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This week was the first of 2015 which a tidal wave of new music washed over me in a big surge. With SXSW out of the way, many artists began to set out their stall for the coming year who hadn’t already.

So we had two great new tracks from Jamie xx, a near-11 minute triptych song from Belfast’s Girls Names inspired by the Group Zero art movement, an impressive track from Matador’s new signing Haelos, new Irish music from Fight Like Apes, Little xs for eyes, Lakker, Roisin Murphy, Spies and Rusangano Family.

SXSW was buzzing for Shamir who dropped his fun track ‘Call it Off’ and Tei Shi capitalised on her appearances there with ‘Go Slow’.

There’s also brand new Hudson Mohawke, Teleman and Florence + The Machine. It was at times, an overwhelming music week. Here’s my way of digesting the best of it – a playlist. That’s not all of it nor does it include albums.

Like your new music on Spotify instead? Follow the Nialler9 New Music playlist on Spotify. Updated weekly.

Posted on March 27th, 2015

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The Sufjan Stevens that affected me the most was the one that revelled in the quiet, who kept things simple. Illinoise and The Age Of Adz are great records, sonically rich and ambitious. His stature grew, literally onstage with wings on a recent tour, where layers of sound were built up in impressive displays of song arrangements.

For his seventh album Carrie & Lowell, Stevens has put the wings back in the cupboard and returned to his folk roots. He’s also traded in the conceptual grandiosity for the devastatingly personal.

If there’s one thing you need to know about Sufjan and this album is that it is concerned with his absent mother Carrie (and by extension, his stepfather Lowell), who left his family in Michigan when he was a one year old and moved to Oregon. Carrie died in 2012 of stomach cancer and this visceral album is Sufjan addressing the monumental loss of his mother’s life and of her in his life.

Stevens spent a few summers with his mother as a child, who was troubled by depression and schizophrenia. Much of the album is drawn with that little amount of time he spent with Carrie. Interestingly, Lowell, his stepfather, stayed in touch after he divorced Carrie and went on to release music on Stevens’ label Asthmatic Kitty and is a director of the company. Losing a mother is unbearable but a mother estranged from her son has a profound effect.

The music is sparse, evocative, stripped-bare. Stevens’ doesn’t embellish much musically but he doesn’t compound the hurt and pain in his words with more aural clues. It’s actually a beautiful-sounding album on the surface. Seven Swans, his 2004 acoustic album inspired by Bible songs is the closest comparison. It is an album of grief (On that subject do read Niall Crumlish’s far superior review of this album for State.)

There are questions that go unanswered – “what could I have said to raise you from the dead?”. In both the album’s opening track ‘Death With Dignity’ and ‘Eugene’ Stevens longs to be near his mother. He sings of “this empty feeling” on ‘Should Have Known Better’ and asks “I wonder did you love me at all?” on ‘The Only Thing’. There is searing hurt. “Should I tear my eyes out now? Everything I see returns to you somehow,” he sings on the same track.

His mother, “Erebus on my back” gives an imagined reply on ‘Fourth Of July’ – “did you get enough love, my little dove?” There is much rumination of Stevens himself as a person in the reflection of Carrie through his relationships on ‘John My Beloved’ and ‘Drawn To The Blood’. “What’s left is only bittersweet / for the rest of my life, admitting the best is behind me,” he sings on ‘Eugene’.

There is no answer to grief or estrangement. There can be acceptance, reconciliation, mourning and forgiveness. “I forgive you mother I can hear you,” Stevens sings but there’s much pain to get through. Carrie & Lowell offers catharsis for Stevens and consolation for others in his difficult exploration.

LONGITUDE DAYBD

Pusha T, Nick Mulvey, Raury, Drenge, Petite Noir, Welp, The Bohicas, Wyvern Lingo, Young Wonder, Daithi, Subplots, Princess and Spies were all added to Longitude today.

Longitude takes place in Marlay Park from Friday July 17th – July 19th. Weekend tickets €149.50 / Day tickets €59.50 excluding fees.

Previously:

Longitude 2015 additions: James Blake, Metronomy, Glass Animals, Todd Terje, Pusha T, Danny Brown….

Longitude 2015: Alt-J, Hozier, Chemical Brothers, Caribou, Wild Beasts…

Posted on March 27th, 2015

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txfm

As broadcast last night, as it is every Thursday from 10pm to midnight TXFM. Skip past the news 6 minutes in.

Part One

  1. Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight
  2. Le Galaxie – Le Club
  3. Shamir – Call It Off
  4. Teleman – Strange Combinations
  5. little xs for eyes – Logical Love
  6. Fight Like Apes – Pretty Keen On Centerfolds
  7. Hælos – Earth Not Above
  8. Made In Heights – Panther
  9. Sufjan Stevens – Should Have Known Better
  10. Jamie xx – Loud Places (featuring Romy)
  11. Kendrick Lamar – Alright
  12. Run The Jewels – Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) (Feat. Zack De La Rocha)
  13. Spies – Quincy Morris

Part Two 

  1. Jape – Breath Of Life
  2. Hudson Mohawke – Very First Breath (feat. Irfane)
  3. Jamie xx – Gosh
  4. Orbital – Belfast
  5. Poborsk – Club Informatique
  6. BBII – An Evening At Bunsley Hall
  7. Sauce81 – Natural Thing
  8. Florence + The Machine – St Jude
  9. Banks – This Is What It Feels Like
  10. Wildbirds & Peacedrums – Keep Some Hope
  11. Girls Names – Zero Triptych
  12. Tame Impala – Let It Happen

You can listen live on Thursdays to the show on 105.2FM, online, the iOs app, Android app or if you missed it, along with all the other shows, via the listen back section

Posted on March 27th, 2015

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Just as exciting as the prospect of new music from the xx is a solo album from their producer Jamie xx who has revealed two pieces of music from exactly that.

In Colour, the album is out on May 29th on Young Turks. ‘Loud Places’ features Romy Madley-Croft and has bright piano summery chords with trademark Jamie percussion and Romy vocal delivery that recalls The Avalanches in its sampled chorus from Idris Muhammad’s ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’ (thanks Stevie G for the tip). The video just dropped:

‘Gosh’ meanwhile is a much harder cut, that recalls old-school jungle and drum and bass, like a Jamie version of Four Tet’s ‘Parallel Jalebi’ but it transforms into something akin to Orbital.

In Colour features previous singles ‘Girl’ and ‘Sleep Sound’ as well as guests the xx’s Oliver Sim, Young Thug and Popcaan and Four Tet.

Tracklist

1. Gosh
2. Sleep Sound
3. SeeSaw (featuring Romy with Four Tet production)
4. Obvs
5. Just Saying
6. Stranger In A Room (featuring Oliver Sim)
7. Hold Tight
8. Loud Places (featuring Romy)
9. I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (featuring Young Thug & Popcaan)
10. The Rest Is Noise
11. Girl

Speaking of Four Tet and Jamie xx, the pair have a JOINT Essential Mix being broadcast on BBC Radio One on Saturday night.

Jamie also has a lightweight tune called ‘Alba’ being released on 7″ for Record Store Day.
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Posted on March 27th, 2015

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Forbidden Fruit announced acts for a live stage for the festival in The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin on the Bank Holiday weekend of riday 29th to Sunday 31st May

The Live Live (Workshop stage) is from a new collective Live Live and will feature
Fatima & The Eglo Band (great album from last year)
Floating Points
Sleep Thieves
Whilk and Misky
Rusangano Family
Mc Melodee
Blooms
Rocstrong
Trinity Orchestra presents Gorillaz
Heroes In Hiding

Weekend tickets are €119+. Friday – €39.50. Saturday – €49.50. Sunday – €49.50.

Previous announcements
Forbidden Fruit 2015: Wu Tang Clan, Fatboy Slim, Run The Jewels, Booka Shade, Joey Bada$$

Forbidden Fruit added Nicolas Jaar, Maya Janes Coles, Tensnake, Hot Since 82 & more

Jamie xx, Mount Kimbie, Kelela, Richie Hawtin, Groove Armada & more added to Forbidden Fruit

Posted on March 27th, 2015

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Director A.G. Rojas has delivered a video that features a raw struggle between a cop and a black kid and in doing so brings physical humanity to makes it a powerful video. The cop is played by Shea Whigham who you might recognise as Eli from Boardwalk Empire and the kid by Keith Stanfield who will play Snoop Dogg in the upcoming Straight Outta Compton film.

Said the director:

“When Run The Jewels sent me this track, I knew we had the opportunity to create a film that means something. I felt a sense of responsibility to do just that. We had to exploit the lyrics and aggression and emotion of the track, and translate that into a film that would ignite a valuable and productive conversation about racially motivated violence in this country. It’s provocative, and we all knew this, so we were tasked with making something that expressed the intensity of senseless violence without eclipsing our humanity. For me, it was important to write a story that didn’t paint a simplistic portrait of the characters of the Cop and Kid. They’re not stereotypes. They’re people – complex, real people and, as such, the power had to shift between them at certain points throughout the story. The film begins and it feels like they have been fighting for days, they’re exhausted, not a single punch is thrown, their violence is communicated through clumsy, raw emotion. They’ve already fought their way past their judgments and learned hatred toward one another. Our goal was to highlight the futility of the violence, not celebrate it.”

For El-P of Run the Jewels “this is a vision of a seemingly never-ending struggle whose participants are pitted against each other by forces originating outside of themselves.”

Adds partner Killer Mike “this video represents the futile and exhausting existence of a purgatory-like law enforcement system. There is no neat solution at the end because there is no neat solution in the real world. However, there is an opportunity to dialogue and change the way communities are policed in this country. Salutes to AG Rojas for his unique take on the subject matter and to Shea and Keith for giving us their all and bringing it to life.”

Run The Jewels was my favourite album of 2014 and they’re playing Forbidden Fruit.

Posted on March 26th, 2015

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Fight Like Apes have just returned from SXSW in Texas, and they’re ready for more action, as it appears their long-awaited third album, which will be self-titled, is coming out on Alcopop! Records on May 15th.

‘Pretty Keen On Centerfolds’ got its first play on radio yesterday. The song first appeared as a demo a couple of years back. True to the band’s effervescent synth punk-pop style, the song is a bright three minutes with May Kay sounding at her best singing of Tubular Bells and Centrefolds but “no-one’s gonna love me for that”.

sleep thieves

This is a post written by Wayne Fahy of Sleep Thieves about the band’s largely positive experiences as an independent band with their music on Spotify. As it happens, they are playing RHA tonight..

Over the last few months, the issue of fair royalties for bands and how streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer et al help or hinder music’s new supply chain has intensified. At the top of the mountain, the battle rages as Taylor Swift and Spotify’s own CEO Daniel Ek attempt to convince the industry they are both crusading to stabilise and save it.

Much further downslope, on the low foothills where most bands operate, this battle above registers as little more than a low din, or does it? Taylor Swift is the only artist to sell over a million copies of an album in 2014, so the figures her label are fighting about are obviously colossal. f you’ll join me in casting your eyes downward from the heavens, here we are, Sleep Thieves, a prototype of the new normal – the Spotify millionaires.

A joyful slog

Our millions are sadly, not in dollar form (not even remotely close) but instead are made up of Spotify plays. We passed that milestone about a year ago, and sit at around 2.6 million plays in total today. As the main track to drive this, ‘Spirit Animal’ galloped towards 1 million plays in late 2014, we cheered for it with daily Spotify checks like a small time gambler might, cheering home the nag he has a fiver on – aware its not going to change our lives overnight, but still damn gratifying. It has been quite a unique experience though, we are equal parts flattered, invigorated, more confident, but also still living the joyful slog as Vinnie Dermody of The Jimmy Cake so aptly put it.