Siights is a new duo formed by Toni Etherson and Mia Fitz, the former a chart songwriter from Scotland and the latter, a musician from Dublin who has played live with Hozier for the last two years.
The pair decamped to LA recently to work on music together for other artists but and what they concocted is a pop-spun mix of electronic, funk and disco music for themselves with Fitz playing all the instruments on their debut single ‘Dance’.
Check out the video made in LA, centred around self-expression.
Yep, such is the leap in path of global popularity that Andrew Hozier-Byrne has been on in the last few years, that the first new song that arrives after his debut album is for a major Hollywood film The Legend Of Tarzan starring Alexander Skarsgård.
As you might expect for such a blockbuster, the song is a sweeping epic produced by Hozier’s production partner Rob Kirwan with big orchestral moments (recorded in Abbey Road), a grandiose guitar line throughout and Hozier ably holding his own amid the grand swell of it all.
“I was excited about the opportunity and the challenge of writing for this film project. After viewing an early edit, I was struck by the theme of endurance, and endurance of love through such a hostile environment. I wanted the song to be an intimate reassurance as spoken from one lover to another—one that might be issued in hardship or doubt’’
The Legend of Tarzan opens in Irish cinemas on July 6th. The soundtrack and the single is out now on iTunes and streaming services.
The 2FM Xmas Ball takes place in the 3Arena on Wednesday December 23rd and Hozier will headline the show which will also feature sets from Little Green Cars, Gavin James, The Riptide Movement, Ryan Sheridan and Hudson Taylor. It’s all in aid of The ISPCC – the national child protection and welfare charity in Ireland.
It will be hosted by 2fm presenters including Nicky Byrne & Jenny Greene, Eoghan McDermott, Bernard O’Shea, Jen Maguire and Keith Walsh, Tracy Clifford and more.
Tickets are €45+ on sale this Friday at 9am from Ticketmaster in shops and online but you can win tickets right here by entering below:
Other Voices will return to TV screens for its thirteenth season on RTÉ2 from Sunday April 12th at 10.50pm.
The thirteenth series as ever was filmed in Dingle and this year was co-presented by Aidan Gillen and Huw Stephens. You can read all about the filming and the performances from December in my dispatches.
Look out for favourites Young Fathers, All We Are, Jessie Ware, Rusangano Family and Ibeyi in there.
Episode 1 – April 12th
All We Are
Cloud Castle Lake
From the archives Anna Calvi
Episode 2 – April 19th
From the archives John Grant & Conor O’ Brien
Episode 3 – April 26th
Walking On Cars
Join Me in the Pines
Booka Brass Band
From the archives James Vincent McMorrow
Episode 4 – May 3rd
The Lost Brothers
Kormac’s Big Band
From the archives The National
Episode 5 – May 10th
Melanie De Biasio
Staring at Lakes
From the archives East India Youth
Episode 6 – May 17th
Buke & Gase
From the archive: The XX
A lot of things happened at the Grammys last night: Kanye disrupted another stage in protest at Beck winning album of the year instead of Beyoncé, Aphex Twin won best electronic album (and was never going to be in a room with all those people ), St. Vincent won Best Alternative album. Sam Smith won a lot of awards, a buttload of major recording artists performed live and some other stuff too.
In among the performances of Sia, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, AC/DC, Rihanna, Paul McCartney & Kanye West was the Irish man Andrew Hozier Byrne. It’s still quite a thing to watch the music and performance of the Wicklow man grow as it has been over the last year and a half: from a debut EP to that video to the festival slots to the album to Spotify’s most viral song of 2014. It’s impressive and looks unstoppable at this point.
Last time Hozier got up on a world stage for Victoria Secret, he didn’t look comfortable when juxtaposed singing a song that uses ecclesiastical metaphors for sex in a lingerie model commercial context. So, when he got up last night at the Grammys to perform ‘Take Me To Church’ once again, it was more fitting, a musical context, in which the singer gave a powerful performance joined by a souped-up backing band (the song has been sounding better live of late) and Annie Lennox who sang Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put A Spell On You’, a song that was a natural fit for Hozier to show off his guitar blues credentials.
The Coronas – ‘All The Others’
Delorentos – ‘Show Me Love’
Hozier – ‘From Eden’
Kodaline – ‘One Day’
Kormac – ‘Wake Up’
Little Hours – ‘It’s Still Love’
The Minutes – ‘Cherry Bomb’
Sinead O’Connor – ‘Take Me To Church’
The Riptide Movement – ‘All Works Out’ (pictured)
The Script – ‘Superheroes’
The shortlist is compiled by combining selected songs from the Meteor Choice Music Prize Judging Panel, Today FM, and the Irish Airplay charts as compiled by Radio Monitor.
For the ninth year, I’ve handed the mic over to you guys to see what Irish albums made you move or moved you. This year 92 individual albums voted for and if you want to see the top 50, it’s at the end. But here’s a focus on the top 25 Irish albums released in 2014 as voted for by Nialler9 readers.
If anything tickles your fancy, be sure to drop into one of the Tower Records in Dublin, on Dawson Street or Eason’s, O’Connell Street and support the artist by buying a copy, preferably on vinyl.
NYC-based robotic Dubliner’s second album on DFA Records
With artwork from fellow Dublin globe-travelling artist Maser, Marcus Lambkin’s second album for the influential label is thoroughly of the DFA cannon. Those drums often associated with the label are felt throughout: post-punk-style yet filtered through Lambkin’ productions.
For the most part, the songs rely on club textures and modes: filtering from synth-disco to rave to electro to house. Dance and pop tropes are reinforced by vocalists Nancy Whang, Jenr and particularly by Holly Backer on ‘Feels Like’. The title track featuring the comedian Reggie Watts doing his soulful warble thing to a house-piano beat is a highlight.
Fourth album from the rejuvenated Dublin indie rock band.
“Assured from start to finish, Delorentos can even offer a peon to their hometown (‘Dublin Love Song’) that doesn’t leave you curled up in a ball of embarrassment. Yes they’re not exactly swimming against the musical tide but that makes the results all the more impressive, that in a world full of guitar bands they can still leave their mark. Another potential hurdle cleared with few difficulties, there’s even the feeling that the real Delorentos story is only just starting.” Phil Udell – State.ie.
The Galway kid moves from fiddling around into EDM pop circles on his own.
From his first forays into fiddle-assisted electronica, Daithí O’Dronaí has really raised his own bar and his sights. The music on his debut album In Flight (Co-produced by rising talent Ian Ring of Young Wonder) was unlike any other Irish album made this year as it was unabashedly a pop record: albeit one with the underlying structure of house, pop, trad and electronic music
Granted Irish radio is less accepting of this type of music than the UK is which maybe explained why the album didn’t spawn a big hit but in tracks like ‘Case Closed’ with Cork singer Senita, ‘Chameleon Life’ with singer Raye and ‘Have To Go’ featuring soul singer Jesse Boykins III there are certifiable chart house-pop bangers. No-one else in Ireland is making that kind of crossover music right now. Time for some catchup.
Yes, the electronic music pioneer is from Limerick so his first record in 13 years has been claimed.
“We know now that the contents of Syro is just some of the material recorded in the intervening years in one of James’ many studios. The oldest track stretch back six or seven years, using a massive 138 pieces of musical equipment (all listed in spiral on the artwork).
What appears before it also echoes the heavier side of Druqks but repeated listens reveal new textures, new moods, new avenues explored by James. The trademark eeriness of melody and general cheeky humour is still evident throughout but the greatest part of a new Aphex Twin record is that is truly allows you to get lost in its puzzle, a completely different musical terrain even when there are expected imprints of ambient works, electro, acid, jungle and squiggly funk.
The 10 minute experience of ‘XMAS_EVET10 [thanaton3 mix]’ feels different every time with environmental listening experiences changing the focus and feel (headphones, outdoors, late-night) as all the best electronic music can do. Syro still offers much to explore, many repeat listens in.
And that is the key to why Aphex Twin is pored over so minutely, because he goes into such detail in his music. James’ intricate compositional skills remains his biggest asset. While his sounds have been copied over the years, his brain is still peerless.”
A brilliant grimey hip-hop collaborative album via Clare, Zimbabwe and Limerick..
“As they describe it, ‘a Zimbabwean Christian and an Irish pagan sit down with a pot of tea’ with the expressed interest of changing the game.
What God Knows, the founding member of the Random Acts Of Kindness collective and Ennis-born mynameisjOhn came up with (along with MuRli) is a game-changer in the way it drags Irish hip-hop into a fully-formed album/mixtape format with a confidence and skill that is unfamiliar in this country’s rap output.
MC God Knows is a fervent presence, an MC with command, as heard on the soulful clip of ‘Standard’, an easy album highlight. MynameisjOhn provides the horn-soul hip-hop backing but doesn’t rest there, the beats bang, the strings stab and God Knows goes double time to the beat slowing to let the soul sample breathe.
The versatility extends to MynameisjOhn too. ‘Throw The Spear’ reminds me of an MF Doom production – Dangerdoom era, meets Machinedrum. ‘Habbahuk’ is more plaintive, ‘Twentyfourseven’ is psychedelic funk and there are hints of a knowledge of electronic subgenres, even African dance on ‘African Shirts’.
Aspects of being an African boy growing up in Ireland seeps through the lyrics in details about being black in an Irish school. He’s Joined by MuRli and Guide on ‘Words Of Our Fathers’, a track which, in the short history of Irish-African rap would have never been made twenty years ago, and serves as an aural document of one small thing that multi-cultural Ireland has given us.”
The electro-rock band’s swansong leaves us stranded on a Mario Kart cloud.
“It’s facile to call the band math-rock or post-rock because there aren’t many of the standard tropes of those genres really left in the Adebisi Shank sound.
Post-rock used a traditional band set up to create something new with the same instruments but Adebisi strive for euphoria through a larger palette of sounds that they’ve incorporated from 80s music and video game soundtracks through vocoders, one of their dad’s saxophone playing, electro synths and Japanese pop culture. This Is The Third Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank is a whizz-bang of flag waving exuberance.”
The two teachers’ second album rocks out with brevity and lyrical craft.
“The first album from John Duignan and drummer Conall O’Breachain as We Cut Corners clocked in at 27 minutes but packed in more passion, melody and meaning than most manage at twice that length. That brevity is one of the band’s greatest assets, the delivery of short, sharp gut punching tracks that bow to the three-minute rule has become a trademark.
The band’s second album Think Nothing, recorded in Donegal with Villagers’ producer/guitarist Tommy McLaughlin is no different in that regard. Two years in the making no less but running at just 34 seconds extra, it wastes little of that duration. We Cut Corners are not a band made for indulgences.”
Martin Hayes’ trad supergroup create an album that breaks many moulds.
“Those self-imposed challenges over the years lead fiddle player Hayes to to form The Gloaming, a group featuring two other Irishmen: singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, playing his hardanger fiddle (a special instrument of Norwegian origin with eight or nine strings rather than four) and two Americans, the guitarist and frequent Hayes collaborator Dennis Cahill and American pianist Thomas Bartlett.
The Gloaming does create new ideas in old ones, by gelling the different experiences of the players. “I don’t recognise the lines that the rest of this band sees,” Bartlett says in a documentary about the band. ‘They’re very happy to go outside of those boundaries, but the fact that I don’t even know the tradition helps make them disappear.’
The Gloaming achieves a spacious temporal glow. Its evocative arrangements let the tunes breathe between the players, using familiar language in what feels like fresh ways. It communicates with the outside world from Cork to Clare to Vermont to Chicago to Norway and beyond. It has a context in that wide open world and does something delicate with the weight of history that informs it.”
The Wicklow bluesy/rock singer was Spotify’s most viral artist of the year and defied expectation. My, how he’s grown.
“The Wicklow man’s debut album’s 13 songs reveal an assured lyricist, a powerful singer and dedicated blues guitarist that is a stern reminder, despite his growing ubiquity, of exactly why the dude is only going to get more visible.”
“Taken all together in album format, it’s the howl, the voice that keeps drawing you back. Hozier-Byrne proves he knows how to write a good song or 13, and he knows how to use his Bill Withers bellow to memorable effect. Hozier has the confidence where it matters – in the tunes. Everything else is already on the cards.”
The Dubliner transitions from the folk tag to something much more effervescent.
“Post Tropical is all about breaking away from conventions of McMorrow’s previous form. It is more nuanced and less traditional. Since appearing as a bearded man in a flannel shirt with a guitar, McMorrow has talked about how appearing as a bearded man in a flannel shirt with a guitar has pegged him as a folk artist. Certainly, much of Early In The Morning fit in with that pastoral idea of a folk musician, even going on song titles like ‘Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree’ and ‘To The Woods!!!’ alone.
McMorrow revels in defying those tags here. Recorded largely by himself, possibly all of the instruments and all of the layered harmonies which are also his, in a studio on a pecan farm in Texas on the Mexico border, Post Tropical is all about keeping away from the obvious.
It’s worth stating again, that the album is the work of one talented man’s intense schedule in isolation. It’s a towering achievement in that case but even without knowing that fact, Post Tropical stands up as a less-immediate release to its predecessor. It’s an emphatically unconventional yet rewarding album and a considerable achievement for its creator.”
Hozier’s debut album (read my review) is the fastest selling album in Ireland this year and things are looking good for the album’s release in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand with an appearance on Saturday Night Live to come this week.
In the meantime, Hozier has announced a proper Irish tour for December, with dates in Cork, Kerry, Mayo, Belfast and Dublin lined up. Support for all dates is Wyvern Lingo and tickets go on sale Friday 10 October at 9am from Ticketmaster and are limited to 4 per person.
December Tour dates
Thursday 4th: Dublin, The Olympia Theatre
Tickets €20 / €22.50 / €25 including booking fee
It was only this week, last year, that the ‘Take Me To Church’ video was released. The track is still a magnificent intro to Andrew Hozier-Byrne, a soulful high-spirited song which seeks redemption in the flesh and does so by using ecclesiastical language – command, worship. heaven, amen, shrine, sin.
It’s the opening track on the debut Hozier album, 365 days on, a year which has seen the young Wicklow man impress at SXSW, draw a huge crowd at Electric Picnic, play Letterman, sell out tour dates all over the US and Europe, sign deals with Island Records in the UK and Sony Columbia in the US and countless other things that many musicians would kill to be ticked off their bucket list. It’s been fascinating to watch his ascent from small shows to next month, being the main musical act on Saturday Night Live.
Most people who are thrust into a global limelight so quickly are prepared for it in some way. In person and performance, this shy soft-spoken tall Wicklow man often didn’t quite seem at total ease with what was happening to him. Writing songs for nearly 10 years is one thing but connecting with audiences, on a cultural scale is quite another.
His debut album’s 13 songs however reveal an assured lyricist, a powerful singer and dedicated blues guitarist that is a stern reminder, despite his growing ubiquity, of exactly why the dude is only going to get more visible (major label dolla doesn’t hurt either).
Substance and darkness lies beneath a decent Hozier tune. ‘Sedated’ the previous standalone single features a chorus that emphatically sings about “nursing on a poison never stung / our teeth and lungs are lined with the scum of it.” Charming.
Or the second EP’s lead song ‘From Eden’, which announces to a lilting guitar lick cheerily “I slithered here from Eden just to sit outside your door… a rope in hand for your other man / to hang from a tree.”
Further indicators about Hozier-Byrne’s lyrics being darker than they appear are throughout the record. The album’s sweet guitar duet with Karen Cowley, ‘In A Week’ is about a decomposing couple in a field “They’d find us in a week…. after the foxes have known our taste.” The morbid nature of love rears itself out of the ground on the chain-gang blues of ‘Work Song’ – “no grave can hold my body down / I’ll crawl home to her,” and on the folksy ‘Like Real People Do’ – “Why were you digging / what did you bury / before those hands pulled me from the earth.”
It’s a testament to his soulful vocals (and producer Rob Kirwan) that a song like ‘Sedated’ which is heavily dosed with bodily and sensory residue manages to stay above all, as singalong as it does. Ditto, ‘From Eden’ and with its slithering sly protagonist ready to kill to get what he wants. A veneer of a hook is all that’s needed to hide the truth and Hozier uses it well.
In an interview earlier this year I wrote for the Sunday Times, Hozier talked of his love of Chicago and Delta blues. It’s an influence palpably felt throughout the album from the rattling blues lick of ‘To Be Alone’ and ‘It Will Come Back’ with the singer “howling outside your door” with the guitar doing something similar.
All huff no puff? Not quite. ‘Jackie And Wilson’ is the most blustery blues track in Hozier’s catalogue. A bombastic track inspired by the American R&B singer which takes flight with an impressive display of gospel backing vocals.
Taken all together in album format, other touches like the extended Mexican-standoff stomp bridge in ‘From Eden’ add something new to the familiar but it’s the howl, the voice that keeps drawing you back. Hozier-Byrne proves he knows how to write a good song or 13, and he knows how to use his Bill Withers bellow to memorable effect. Hozier has the confidence where it matters – in the tunes. Everything else is already on the cards.