23 05 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Enemies record that ran in last fortnight’s Hot Press.


Embark, Embrace (Heavyweight Records)


Key Track: ‘Nighthalks’


It’s certainly no secret that some musicians struggle when it comes to making a second record. Instrumental, post-rock bands in particular tend to have trouble keeping that spark of excitement and invention alive and end up being eclipsed by newer, fresher, and usually louder acts as a result. With Ireland swarming with a multitude of groups from that aforementioned genre right now, album number two from Co. Wicklow’s Enemies was always going to be a game-charger for them, one way or another. Happily for the quartet, Embark, Embrace is a massive step up for the band and sees them buck that difficult second album syndrome with glee and over the course of ten tracks they announce their return in an often mesmerising fashion.


Taken as a whole, the opus is a starry-eyed, sci-fi spectacular which sounds almost like an futuristic, alien lullaby in places. Opening with the glockenspiel-led, ethereal ‘Intro,’ a guest vocal (yep, vocal) from the Cast Of Cheers’ Conor Adams on ‘Executive Cut’ tells us that all bets are off from the get-go and from there we’re treated to a spiralling soundtrack which features plenty of guitar heroics (minus the shredding) on the likes of ‘Beacher,’ emotive, grandiose threnodies (‘Moesha,’ ‘North West’) and there’s even some slightly gothic-y goings on ‘Nighthalks,’ which has some frighteningly good spectral vocals courtesy of Heathers. Imbued with an infectious, relentless positivity throughout, Embark, Embrace is a deceivingly delicate record that will take you on a trip you’ll want to repeat again and again and it’s sure to win Enemies plenty of new friends over the year ahead.



R.I.P. Ronnie

16 05 2013

This day three years ago we lost my favourite ever singer-Ronnie James Dio, so here’s a little bit of the great man in action in tribute.

Day Two Of Tennent’s Vital Announced.

13 05 2013

Snow Patrol and Kodaline announced for Day Two of Tennent’s Vital (Aug 15).Here’s the press release.

Tennent’s Lager and MCD are thrilled to reveal that Snow Patrol will return to Tennent’s Vitalthis summer to play a massive homecoming show at Belfast’s Boucher Road Playing Fields onThursday 15th August. In a major coup for organisers, the band’s headline slot on the Day 2 of the festival will be their only European date this summerKodaline and Foy Vance have also been added to the bill for Day 2 of Tennent’s Vital.
Snow Patrol played the very first Tennent’s Vital back in 2002, returned to headline in 2006, and now they’re set to receive a local hero’s welcome when they bring their epic festival anthems back home to Belfast this August. The five-piece soared to international stardom after releasing their chart-topping breakthrough album Final Straw, which yielded the band’s first top 5 hit, Run and bagged them the inaugural Ivor Novello for Best Album in 2004. Its multi-platinum-selling, smash hit follow-up Eyes Open featured the epic Chasing Cars – a huge hit which was hailed Best Song of All Time by Virgin Radio listeners, number one song of the noughties by Channel 4 viewers and became the most played song of the decade in the UK.
Hailed Irish Band of the Decade by Hot Press in 2009, they are recipients of an impressive array of Meteor Music Awards, including Best Irish Band (2005, 2007, 2010), Best Irish Album (Final Straw andEyes Open), Best Live Performance and Most Downloaded Song (Chasing Cars­). Their long-awaited return to Tennent’s Vital promises to be an epic, unmissable occasion.
Dublin four-piece Kodaline have had a phenomenal start to the year, after going down a storm at SXSW and topping the Irish single charts with the smash hit single High Hopes. The group release their hotly anticipated debut album In A Perfect World this summer, and are sure to get the crowd going when they play Boucher Road Playing Fields this August.
Northern Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance made a big impression with his 2012 release The Melrose EP, and is set to follow it up with his new album Joy of Nothing this summer. Celebrated for his thought-provoking, powerful lyrics and spine-tingling vocals, he’s been hailed as one of the finest song-writers to emerge from Northern Ireland in recent years.
Last month organisers revealed that US rock giants Kings of Leon will headline Day 1 of the festival (14th August), with more top acts set to be revealed by organisers in the coming months.
Nicola McCleery, Head of Marketing for Tennent’s NI, commented:
“Snow Patrol are huge favourites with the Tennent’s Vital crowd – they played our very first festival back in 2002, and blew everyone away with their headline set in 2006, which has gone down in Tennent’s Vital history as a truly seminal moment. They are one of the biggest bands in the world, and we can’t wait to welcome them back to home soil. Joining them will be Kodaline and Foy Vance, who we’ve also announced today, and the second day of Tennent’s Vital promises to be very special indeed.”
Tennent’s Vital 2013 will once again bring some of the best musical talent on the planet to Belfast for an unforgettable festival experience. Fans can get their hands on tickets for Day 2 of Tennent’s Vital (15th August), headlined by Snow Patrol when they go on sale at 10am on Friday 17th May Fans of Tennent’s Vital on Facebook can get exclusive priority access to theTennent’s Vital pre-sale from 10am TOMORROW (Tuesday 14th May) – to find out how to reserve your ticket before they go on sale to the general public. Tickets for Day 1 of Tennent’s Vital, headlined by Kings of Leon, are on sale now from
Ticket Information
Tickets for Day 2 of Tennent’s Vital 2013 (Thursday 15th August) will go on general sale from 10am on Friday 17th May. Tickets for Day 1 of Tennent’s Vital, (Wednesday 14th August) are on sale now.
·         Wed 14 August – Kings of Leon plus more to be announced: £49.50 incl booking fee – on sale now
·         Thu 15 August – Snow Patrol plus guests Kodaline, Foy Vance and more to be announced: £44.50 incl booking fee – on sale Friday 17th May
·         Tickets can be secured via Tennent’s Vital’s official ticket partner 
·         Tickets are also available in person from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide or via the 24hr Telephone hotlines: (NI & UK) 0844 8472455/ (ROI) 0818 719 300.
Tennent’s Vital is an over 16’s event.  However, a parent aged 25 and over can take up to two under 16’s to the show.  Parents will be required to show age identification and sign a consent form in order to gain admission on the day. Under 16’s must be accompanied by their parent at all times. Bars will operate a strict Challenge 25 policy.


9 05 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the Imagine Dragons record.


Night Visions (Interscope)


Key Track: ‘Amsterdam’


While you may not recognise the name, chances are, due to the media saturated world of modern times, you’ll all be well aware of Imagine Dragons’ music. Whether it’s soundtracking an ultra slick video game or adding a teary-eyed climax to some schmaltzy Kate Hudson rom-com, their music have been subliminally infiltrating our collective brain-cases for the last six months or so and now Europe finally gets to sample their debut album Night Visions. Already a hit in their native America pretty much since the day it was released on September 4, their music has provoked many a college frat boy to hold them tight to their chests and their unashamedly mainstream-bothering rock sound has drawn comparisons to fellow Sin City residents the Killers, with some suggesting that Imagine Dragons are ready to take over from where Brandon Flowers’ mob left off.


So is the album any good? Well, kinda. When it comes to mixing up genres and styles, the boys have got balls as big as King Kong and indie rock (‘Hear Me’) dubstep (‘Radioactive’) nu folk (‘It’s Time’) and afrobeat (‘Cha Ching (Till We Grow Older)’) all happily nuzzle up beside one another comfortably. However, much of the material is like having a Battenberg cake with a cup of tea-it’s nice but not exactly essential and the blatant (admittedly successful) attempts at romancing the radio with safe, sanitised stadium-friendly choruses suggests their hunger for fame is stronger than their talents.


When they get it right though, Imagine Dragons do sound like bona fide big league contenders. ‘Amsterdam’ is an indie powerhouse of a tune in the vein of the Envy Corps, while the hand-clap and mandolin-led ‘It’s Time’ will be inescapable this summer, and deservedly so as it’s cerebral pop at its best. With Coldplay and more starting to step back a little from the stadium rock scene, Imagine Dragons’ debut definitely marks them out as the band most likely to take over from where they left off. Watch this space.


R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman

3 05 2013

Last night I found out that Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman died, aged 49.

Jeff was my favourite member of the band and he wrote some their best cuts. My brother was more of a Slayer fan than I was but I’ve still got a massive soft spot for  ‘Show No Mercy.’ Take a listen to this riff. It’s amazing. R.I.P. Jeff.


2 05 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Paramore LP that ran in Hot Press a few issues ago.


Paramore (Atlantic Records)


Key Track: ‘Anklebiters’


On December 18, 2010, pop punk quintet Paramore were dealt a crippling blow when they were at the very peak of their powers. Co-founding members Josh and Zac Farro announced that they were leaving and to make matters worse, declared the band were nothing more than a manufactured front for flame-haired singer Hayley Williams. With the group’s squeaky-clean image already in tatters thanks to a leaked topless Twitpic of Williams and their already wavering punk credibility wilting due to some damning comments from her ex-band-mates (and in the case of Josh, an ex-lover too) it looked like Paramore were fast becoming the Jackass generation’s answer to Fleetwood Mac.


Their self-titled fourth record is their response to the last few years of turmoil and it’s a defiant call to arms which sees Hayley, bassist Jeremy Davis and guitarist Taylor York also come of age. A musically diverse, 17 track effort that showcases a band who have left behind their older, arguably simpler sound for a bigger, bolder approach, Paramore is one of the best break-up records you’ll hear all year. Opening with the barbed punk-funk of ‘Fast In My Car,’ the band flirt with reggae and gospel (Rospel?) on ‘Aint It Fun,’ country music on the gorgeous ‘Hate To See Your Heart Break,’ XTC-tinged new wave on ‘Now’ and 50s coffin rock on ‘(One Of Those) Crazy Girls’ and there’s some bitter-sweet ukelele-led interludes threaded through the whole opus too.


Lyrically Williams doesn’t pull any punches either and there are plenty of barbs aimed at her detractors along the way. Rather than being a pity party though, lines like “Let ’em spill their guts/Cos one day they’re gonna slip on ’em” (‘Interlude: Moving On’) are laced with positivity and tracks like ‘Still Into You’ and ‘Anklebiters’ are a starry-eyed joy to listen to. Your move Farro brothers…