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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Wednesday, 5th March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2014 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

This installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 explores the contingent of SXSW 2014 showcasing bands from Ireland and Northern Ireland. These acts range from traditional folk to pure electronic, with a healthy dose of plain old pop and rock falling somewhere in between.

Cian Nugent is listed on the SXSW 2014 schedule as being in the “avant/experimental” category. His expansive, virtuosic solo electric guitar compositions are backed by traditional rock instruments, including electric bass and drums, as well as more orchestral bowed strings, woodwinds, and brass. His latest LP ‘Born With the Caul’, released in November 2013, is his first recording with a fully dedicated band. Cian Nugent and The Cosmos are currently touring in America leading up to SXSW.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ITuigRBWhlM[/youtube]

Dott are a “shiney, harmony-driven guitar pop” band hailing from Galway. Their laid back, low-fi debut album ‘Swoon’ was released on Graveface Records in December 2013; stream it here. For a quick sampling of their sound, take a listen to ‘Love You Too’.

Heathers are Dublin twin sisters Ellie and Louise Macnamara. Their mainstream guitar pop second album, ‘Kingdom’, was released in the UK in September 2012 and nominated for that year’s Meteor Choice Music Prize for Best Irish Album. It is due for release in America on the 8th of April via SonyRED, just after the band’s appearance at SXSW. The album’s first single ‘Forget Me Knots’ has already scored over 250,000 YouTube hits.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/BTLbR80pIqY[/youtube]

Hozier is the stage name of County Wicklow’s Andrew Hozier-Byrne, a soulful singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose poignant single ‘Take Me To Church’ turns romantic love into a religious experience. Already receiving radio play in America, the track was nominated for the Meteor Choice Prize Song of the Year. March looks to be a busy month for Hozier, with the release of his EP, ‘From Eden,’ and his appearance at SXSW, along with his St. Patrick’s Day birthday.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYSVMgRr6pw[/youtube]

Dublin rock duo Kid Karate have been compared to the likes of Jack White and The Black Keys. Their brash, bluesy brand of rock seems more sonically suited to stadiums than the small venues of SXSW, but they are sure to make their boisterous presence known in Austin next month. They have just finished recording their debut long player ‘Night Terrors’, to be released later this year. Be sure to adjust your volume settings before streaming their first single, ‘Two Times’.

Rams’ Pocket Radio is the stage moniker for Northern Irish solo artist Peter McCauley. He is categorized by SXSW organizers as pop, but based on his opening performance for Foy Vance last year (reviewed here), I’d say his keyboard-based rock is more experimental or progressive than most pop artists. Think Ben Folds without the flippancy. Despite its unwieldy title, Rams’ Pocket Radio’s eponymous tune ‘Dieter Rams Has Got The Pocket Radios’ is a surprisingly infectious earworm.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hND_DFhyQNA[/youtube]

Female garage pop band September Girls are aptly named for a Big Star song once covered by The Bangles. The fuzzy guitars and vocal harmonies on ‘Heartbeats’ are a slightly scuzzier version of The Bangles’ signature sound. The single features on September Girls’ debut album,‘Cursing the Sea,’ which was released in January on Fortuna Pop! Records.

The Strypes’ official Web site describes the band as “a 4-piece rhythm and blues band hailing from Cavan, Ireland,” and their single ‘Blue Collar Jane’ clearly pinpoints their style as reminiscent of the early Beatles R&B sound. Their first EP release ‘Young, Gifted & Blue’ is a set of four homemade recordings of classic blues songs, including a cheeky version of Bo Diddley’s ‘You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover’. ‘Blue Collar Jane’ appears on the band’s debut LP ‘Snapshot’, released in September 2013. Their latest EP release ‘4 Track Mind’ coincided with their February tour dates in the UK, which included several sold out shows.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZb8nEemK2k[/youtube]

Unknown is the professional name of Belfast music producer Chris Hanna, who began his career attempting to create his music anonymously and without hype. He started producing music in 2012 with a series of tracks titled simply ‘#001’ – ‘#010’. He currently performs with vocalist Gemma Dunleavy under the stage name of UNKNWN, but the official SXSW schedule lists him as “Unknown,” which might imply that he will be performing solo at the festival. Check out the groove of ‘#008’ below.

Indie pop wunderkinds the Wonder Villains hail from Derry, Northern Ireland and have already become major players on the Northern Irish music scene. They released two singles on No Dancing Records, ‘Ferrari’ and ‘Zola’, the latter of which was playlisted on BBC Radio 1 in February 2012. Their spunky forthcoming single ‘Marshall’ is due out on the 24th of March. After SXSW, the Wonder Villains are expected to return to the studio to finish their debut album, ‘Rocky’, which is scheduled for release in June.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/A-OP2FxCB6c[/youtube]

Dublin punk outfit WOUNDS released their first EP ‘Dead Dead Fucking Dead’ and began work on their debut LP before guitarist James Coogan fell from a four-story balcony and spent 3 months on life support. After Coogan’s painful recovery, Wounds licked their wounds and moved forward, releasing the LP ‘Die Young’,in January 2013. Listen to the merciless thrashing of ‘Dead Dead Fucking Dead’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lKnGvlYetU[/youtube]

The Young Folk, as you might have already guessed, are a folk quartet of a “certain youthful age”, according to the bio on the band’s Web site. Their brand of folk pop includes subtle and eclectic instrumentation, introspective lyrics, and lightly lilting vocals along with a relentlessly energetic performing style. Having recently signed with ARC Music UK, The Young Folk are set to release their debut album in the early part of 2014.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm8gYScu2Xw[/youtube]

 

Live Review: Foy Vance with Rams’ Pocket Radio at Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA – 9th November 2013

 
By on Monday, 18th November 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Photos by Cheryl Demas

Two weekends ago I had the pleasure of seeing Northern Irish soul singer Foy Vance play Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. However, those of you in the UK and Ireland will be soon be treated to the same pleasure, as Vance begins touring his new album ‘Joy of Nothing’ on your side of the pond.

The Jammin’ Java show was the final gig of the North American leg of Vance’s tour, and the Saturday night audience had the room filled to capacity. True, it’s a small venue, but its intimate size and acoustics are perfect for Vance’s soulful solo style, as opposed to the Tabernacle in Atlanta, where I last saw him open for Ed Sheeran in January. Perhaps it wasn’t the venue that seemed to dwarf Vance on that night, but the other acts on the bill, hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks and the aforementioned ginger headliner. As the main act on the bill at Jammin’ Java, Vance was much more confident and relaxed; he appeared right at home on the small, sparsely equipped stage.

As Vance gained popularity in America on the strength of his opening act for Sheeran, it follows that his new fans would pay special attention to his choice of guests on his own headline tour. In this case, the opening act couldn’t have been more stylistically different from Vance. Fellow Northern Irish musician Peter McCauley, who uses the stage name Rams’ Pocket Radio, makes the kind of electronic synth-driven music that brings to mind old TV episodes of ‘Friends’ with Ross on his tiny Casio keyboard. That’s, of course, if you aren’t familiar with Rams’ Pocket Radio, and I was not.

Rams Pocket Radio Vienna

Once he started playing, I found very quickly that I had made a mistake in not taking a listen to him sooner. His clear, evenly measured melodies and pleasantly modulated singing voice allowed his intriguingly erudite lyrics to capture my attention. (I probably shouldn’t mention the fact that I had to consult a dictionary while reading through the liner notes of his album, ‘Béton’, which I was impressed enough to purchase from the merch table.) His music falls squarely into the dreaded ‘progressive’ category, but I found it to be surprisingly listenable, despite its purposefully streamlined, deliberately minimal aesthetic, partly inspired by the Functionalist industrial designs of Dieter Rams. While most of the songs on Rams’ Pocket Radio’s setlist were accompanied by synthesized drums, Vance came on stage and took drum kit himself at one point, making a minor cameo before his own set began.

When Vance did begin his own set, it was McCauley on the drum kit and Conor McCreanor on bass providing the rhythm section. In contrast to the taut precision of Rams’ Pocket Radio, Vance appeared mellow and relaxed from the outset. He opened with ‘Be the Song’ from 2012 EP ‘Melrose’, but from that point forward focused almost exclusively on songs from ‘Joy of Nothing’, which recently won the inaugural Northern Ireland Music Prize. Eight of the 10 songs on that album appeared on the set list this night, and the audience were clearly familiar with them, especially ‘Janey’ and the anthemic ‘Closed Hand, Full of Friends’.

Foy Vance Vienna

Vance’s relaxed mood quickly carried over to his audience. We were quiet with anticipation at the beginning of the show, but his banter and storytelling ability, no doubt the product of growing up as the son of a preacher, soon warmed our hearts and won our rapt attention. Just over halfway through the set, he made the first of several seamless deviations from his original set list, introducing a new song about his current girlfriend, whom he affectionately described as ‘a keeper’. We obliged his request to keep our cameras in our pockets to avoid having the song appear prematurely on YouTube, but this is definitely a tune to keep your ears open for. Perhaps also owing to the easygoing nature of this final gig, Vance accepted a cheeky request from the front row for an old favorite tune, the poignant masterpiece ‘Indiscriminate Act of Kindness’. He closed the set proper with ‘I Got Love’, a simple, soulful tune with an extended suspension in the bridge that left us literally begging for an encore.

At this point, it has become accepted practice for Vance to finish his shows with the well-known ‘Guiding Light’, which is also the final track on ‘Joy of Nothing’. The song is more of an ‘au revoir’ than a final good-bye, and we wistfully joined in singing the chorus at the end, knowing that our evening was well and truly drawing to a close. In the style of a master performer, Foy Vance left us with warmed hearts and smiling faces, but also with the hope of seeing him perform again in the future.

Catch Vance on his current UK and Irish tour; all the dates are here.

Foy Vance set list Vienna

 
 
 

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

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

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

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