The Nialler9 TXFM show airs every Thursday night at 10pm for two hours. You can listen live on 105.2FM, online, the TXFM app or if you missed it, on the listen back function on the site, as per below. The show starts six minutes in,right after the news in each hour. Click the buttons to launch the TXFM site autoplaying links.
Tune back in Christmas Day and New Year’s Day at 10pm for my songs of the year specials.
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.”
Cork DJ Colm K is known for his considered sets of soul and house music as well as his own electronic productions. A former RBMA attendee, Kenefick is working away on new music for next year and DJ-wise, you can find him at residencies at Sunday TImes and So What! in Gulpd Cafe, Cork. Here are his tunes of the year.
Max Graef – ’No 5 The Gym’
Mac Graef has had a great year musically. His debut LP, Rivers Of The Red Planet, showcased the broad palette of sounds and influences that he uses in his music. However, this non album track appeared on 12″ only. No. 5 was huge for me this year. It has everything- chopped breakbeats to begin, nice jazzy stabs and then rests on a bumping house groove with a catchy vocal snippet.
Marvin Gaye – ‘Where Are We Going’
‘Where Are We Going’ is part of wonderful re-issue released in conjunction with Record Store day back in April. It is a previously unreleased version of the Donald Byrd track that Marvin Gaye recorded with the wonderful Mizell brothers. The EP consists of four tracks shared evenly amongst Marvin Gaye and Donald Byrd, but this is the pick of the bunch. A perfect mid tempo soul record.
TR One – ‘AfroDiscoBeatDown’
This track was given to me by the amazing Irish producers that are TR One. Not out yet officially, it definitely got lots of spins from me this summer. I played it on Rinse FM as part of a guest mix for Alexander Nut’s show [about 17 minutes in] and the feedback was instant, with lots of heads looking for details about it. A cheeky Tony Allen sample flipped into a hypnotic house paced groove coupled with some warm pads makes this a perfect summer record. Maybe it’ll see the light of day by Summer 2015.
Brief Encounter – ’Human/Total Satisfaction’
This is another re-issue that came late in the summer courtesy of the Sounds Of The Universe record store in London. I was after this for a very long time but never saw an original copy for under the €170 mark. Beautiful soul music that everyone needs to hear.
D’angelo - Black Messiah LP
Finally! The return of D’angelo. A different record from Voodoo, which is refreshing. The last thing we wanted was D’angelo’s third LP showcasing an attempt to top one of the best LPs of all time. As soon as I heard ‘Betray My Heart’ I was hooked. D’angelo with strings? Yes, please! Personal favourites to date include, Tutu, Betray My Heart, and Another Life. Unfortunately, we have to wait until February 2015 for the double LP.
Henry Wu – ‘Talk About It’
Over the last 12 months there’s been a great scene developing in South London.A bunch of like-minded artists, including Henry Wu, Jean Bassa, Mo Kolours, Reginald Omas Mamode IV, Al Dobson Jnr, and Tenderlonious have been producing some very interesting takes on soulful music spanning all tempos. One outlet for these releases is 22a, a record label set up and run by the same crew. The distribution is taken care of by Sounds Of The Universe so you don’t see these 12″s everywhere, but, if you do, be sure to check them out. The track I chose is from the label’s second release and this featured heavily throughout all my sets this year. Henry Wu has an EP coming shortly on Alex Nut’s Ho-Tep record label, which I’m really looking forward to checking as well.
Yellow Memories is an amazing debut from Fatima. This LP has lots of highlights for me, such as ‘Biggest Joke Of All’, ‘Circle’, ‘Do Better’, and ‘Talk’. Production wise, Fatima’s enlisted quite an all star cast: Floating Points, Scoop DeVille, Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra), Theo Parrish, and Flako. I heard a few of the singles early in the year but, for me, it was some of the album tracks themselves that made this one of the best of the year. The dreamy, dark ‘Talk’ springs to mind, as does the sparse but grooving ‘Biggest Joke Of All’. Taylor McFerrin’s Early Riser LP is worth mentioning when considering soul music from 2014. His debut on Brainfeeder included some killer tunes; ‘Florisa’ and ‘Already There’ were both in heavy rotation throughout the summer.
Jack J - ‘Something On My Mind’
I was lucky enough to get a tip about this one as soon as it dropped. Since then, it’s become quite the tune. xlr8r rated it first in its best of 2014 listing. I’m not so sure about it ranking that highly for me personally, but it’s quote the groover. The drum track sounds almost live, surrounded by warm chords progression and airy brass samples. Jack J’s other work with the Pender Street Steppers is also well worth checking out.
Renee Geyer Band – ‘Be There In The Morning’
Athens of the North is a great new imprint run by Euan Fryer for re-releasing modern soul and disco music. This year saw AOTN re-issue some of the most sought after 7″s from the Modern Soul and Disco era (saving me a fortune on buying originals). Bileo’s ‘You Can Win’, The Split Decision Band’s ‘Watching Out’ and Nohelani Cypriano’s ‘Lihue’ are just a few personal highlights that came courtesy of AOTN this year. Another notable re-issue came courtesy of Tom Noble when he released the super rare Mystic Pleasure ‘Back Door (Getting Down)’, which is a straight disco banger with an amazing arrangement and vibe throughout.
K15 – ‘Yellow’
I was late to this one but it proved to be one of the best house pieces I heard this year. It has a very interesting arrangement and the drums really hit hard. This is certainly the highlight of the EP. Other notable mentions on the house front include both EPs from the always consistent Floating Points, namely ‘King Bromeliad’ and Nectarines both of which were super inspirational. Another LP worth mentioning here is the wonderful debut from Leon Vynehall.
Cian Ó Cíobháin is the man behind the long-running An Taobh Tuathail radio show on RnaG every Monday to Friday from 10pm to midnight. His Galway club night with Cyril Briscoe 110th Street just turned sweet sixteen. The dude is also available for weddings.
As for the show, there will be two ATT Christmas specials broadcast on Christmas Eve and Christmas day from 10pm to midnight.
In the meantime, here are his choices for his songs of 2014.
From her extraordinary Under The Skin soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer’s film, this gauzy-dreamy, otherworldly composition is easily my tune of the year. It somehow evokes Loveless-era MBV, Angelo Badalamenti and elements of Bernard Herrmann’s film music. I only recently discovered that the movie is based on a book by Michel Faber. I am currently engrossed in his most recent novel ‘The Book Of Strange New Things’.
2. HTRK – ‘Give It Up’
Over a minimal, slow-mo, low-slung groove emerges that beautiful fragile voice. The refrain ‘This time I’m gonna love you much better’ is pregnant with regret and lost opportunity. Not to mention a hint of menace that’s bordering on the sexual. Ballard would’ve approved.
3. LesLord – ‘Dave Toole’
Last year poet Marcus Mac Conghail wrote a poem called ‘Ceol Baile’ (home music), where he embarks on a road trip while listening to my radio show. His observations are punctuated by my music selections and commentary. Earlier this year, he sent me a recording of himself reading the poem and asked was there anything I could do with it. I contacted two producers, one being Dubliner Les Ó Dochartaigh, who is one of our most imaginative sound-magicians. He got the go-ahead from the poet to “rip it up” whatever way he wished to. I was naturally apprehensive that I wouldn’t like the end product, having gone to the trouble of asking him to work with the recording. My fears were short-lived. I would go as far as to say as it’s one of his finest works. It really is an astonishing piece of sound art. I love so many things about it, including the plaintive piano that weaves its way into the track’s closing moments. It’s available on his latest LP Uimhir A Dó.
Footnote: Dave Toole, by the way, is how one or two non-Irish listeners who contacted the show over the years, addressed me, having misheard the words ‘An Taobh Tuathail’. One listener in the UK emailed me wondering if this was the first ‘meta’ ATT tune. I suspect it could be.
4. Aphex Twin – ‘minipops 67′ [120.2][source field mix]
My first reaction upon hearing his comeback track was one of relief that, thankfully, it didn’t tarnish his flawless reputation. Then I got more into it. Finally, there came the dawning that it simply is one of the tunes of the year on account of its complexity, its simplicity and its proud, beating (mini)pop heart.
5. Ariel Pink – ‘Not Enough Violence’
It’s so hard to pick one track out of Ariel Pink’s breathtaking new album, as I’ve only been listening to it a few weeks. The album is simply breathless with ideas. Some of the best tracks ‘Lipstick’, ‘White Freckles’, Black Ballerina’ – in the spirit of ABBA – contain so many riffs that lesser artists might never think to conceive over entire careers. However, I’ve gone with this one. It plunders – perhaps for the first time in music history – from a treasure trove of influences, that includes Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’, The Cure, the intonations of Andrew Eldritch from the Sisters Of Mercy, Robert Wyatt, the dynamics of the kind of techno championed by the Berghain mafia, the drums from ‘Running Up That Hill’, vintage BBC Radiophonic recordings, sky-scraping shoegaze & 80s power-pop. Ariel Pink is my magpie of the year.
6. Augustus & John – ‘Crosslines’
Produced in Galway by Mike Smalle (he of B-Movie Lightning / Cane141 infamy) and Matteo Grassi, this is a subtle, light-as-a-feather approach to timeless electro-pop, much in the vein of ‘Ghost Trains’, Erlend Oye’s collaboration with Morgan Geist a few years back. Criminally ignored by most people, the Crosslines EP should be on everyone’s listening devices. Oh, and for the record, neither of the composers had ever heard the track ‘Ghost Trains’, until well after this tune was mastered. Or so I’ve been assured.
7. Plaid – ‘Nafovanny’
Another comeback album from giants of Warp’s towering back catalogue. This track is my highlight off Reachy Prints. From the plaintive note that appears, seemingly out of nowhere, at 2.30, into the sky-scraping riff that follows it – simultaneously both melancholic & joyful – this tune sums up the temporality of all things. Like doing your utmost to lose yourself in the beauty of the finest summer evening, but knowing the experience will – by the immutable laws of physics – only ever be fleeting.
8. Loric – ‘Under Sharer’
Techno at its most psychedelic. This track is alive with ideas. That sublimated disco vocal that occasionally swims to the surface before sinking again beneath that wall of drums. I’d wager it’ll still sound fresh in a decade’s time.
9. FKA twigs – ‘Two Weeks’
The lady has her detractors, certainly in the circles that music snobs habitually frequent, but – it has to be said – this is probably one of the best songs ever written about having sex while high on drugs.
10. Kode9 – ‘Pink Sham Pain Down The Drain’
From the Hyperdub compilation ’10.3’, here’s a track that somehow everybody managed to ignore this year. Kind of in the vein of the Mica Levi track I mentioned, it has that ethereal, quite-not-there quality that has me instantly scrambling to hear it again as soon as the last precious note gently peters out.
This will forevermore remind me of the summer of 2014, I have a lot of amazing memories of playing it at festivals. I just love the way the tracks builds and you don’t really know what’s coming next, I’ve no doubt DJs will be spinning this for years to come-always a sign of a good record.
2. Sinkane – ‘Mean Love’
Mean Love is hands down my favourite album of 2014 because every time I go back to listen, I discover something else. The song ‘Mean Love’ stood out for me the first time I heard it because it sounded like a track The Temptations or Sam Cooke might have sung and I love Motown, those types of records are magic and have stood the test of time.
3. Roisin Murphy – ‘Ancora Tu’
Is there anything Roisin Murphy can’t do? This year she brought out an EP which covers Italian pop songs and the result is just beautiful. I could listen to this over and over because of the emotion in her voice and I don’t even know what she’s saying! People often ask me if it’s Grace Jones when they hear it for the first time on the radio.
4. The War On Drugs – ‘Under The Pressure’
This song is simply beautiful. I had an image of driving through the States in an old Cadillac the first time I heard it, that’s always been a dream of mine, that might sound weird, but great songs do that, they take you to another place.
5. Perfume Genius – ‘Fool’
I love the drama in this record, part of it sounds like a disco track with the finger-clicking and part of it sounds like a hymn, yet the whole thing makes sense. I think Perfume Genius has something very special; a lot of the album reminds me of Marc Bolan because it’s flamboyant but also very sincere.
6. Jungle – ‘Busy Earnin’
I remember being blown away the first time I heard this tune; I thought ‘who the hell are these guys?’ This track takes me back to the ’90s because it immediately makes me want to make up a dance routine! They were one of the best live acts for me at EP this year because they sound as good live as they do on the record, which is very rare.
7. Hot Chip covers William Onyeabor – ‘Atomic Bomb’
I’ve really got into the music of William Onyeabor over the last few months and this cover by Hot Chip of his track ‘Atomic Bomb’ is brilliant. Somebody needs to bring the Atomic Bomb Band to Dublin, imagine David Byrne, Alexis Taylor, Pat Mahoney, Money Mark & Sinkane on the one stage??
8. Jape – ‘The Heart’s Desire’
This is another one of those tunes where you don’t really know what’s coming next; it starts out slow and then builds up into a dance record with the piano by the time you get to the chorus. I can’t wait to hear the entire album. I remember seeing Richie years ago with an acoustic guitar in Whelan’s and thinking he had something very special, look at the music journey he’s been on since? Amazing.
9. The 2 Bears – ‘Not This Time’
This is the best track on their album The Night Is Young for me (Nialler actually introduced me to it), it’s just such a good dance tune and the words are great. I love DJing this out, people always respond so well to it.
I get a lump in my throat every time I listen to this song; it’s so powerful and reminds me a lot of Scott Walker. There’s not a lot more I can say about it because it doesn’t need an explanation, the first time I heard it I was speechless.
The Nialler9 TXFM show airs every Thursday night at 10pm for two hours. You can listen live on 105.2FM, online, the TXFM app or if you missed it, on the listen back function on the site, as per below. The show starts six minutes in, right after the news in each hour. Click the buttons to launch the TXFM site autoplaying links.
BBC Radio One DJ Annie Mac is back in her hometown tonight to play a gig at The Academy in Dublin. It kicks off at 11pm and to get you in the mood for it, I asked Annie for some of her favourite tracks right now and under specific categories…
What’s your favourite track right now?
Jack Garratt – ‘The Love You’re Given’
What song have you’ve been opening DJ sets with?
Paleman – ‘Beezeldub’
Do you have a favourite cheesy Eurodance song?
I always liked that “All that she wants is another baby uh oh uh one…”
A song that you remember from a good club night recently and why?
Danny Brown – ‘Dip’.
Performed at AMP at Warehouse Project in Manchester last Friday. It was a moment for me.
What’s your favourite remix of the year so far?
Gaaaaah, so many remixes! Most recently I love Jonas Rathsman remix of Sam Smith ‘Like I Can’ and Joakim remix of Kindness Feat Robyn ‘Who Do You Love':
Do you have a favourite song to wake up to?
I remember once when lived in a bedsit in Manhattan with my friends. My pal Aran put on Lenny Kravitz – ‘Heaven Help’ and I woke up to it. It’s a very beautiful song to wake up to.
Who is an artist you can’t stop listening to?
A really good sad song?
Johnny Cash – ‘Hurt’
Your first vinyl purchase and what do you remember about it?
A Tribe Called Quest – Beats Rhymes and Life. This is the one I remember the most. I bought it when i lived in NYC for that Summer. I remember listening to ‘1nce Again’ on repeat. I still have it, it’s ruined but I’ve kept all my records that help tell a story of my whereabouts..
A new song guaranteed to get people on the dance floor?
I love DJ Haus’ ‘Coming On’ at the moment. There’s everything I love about dance music in that one.
A track you’ve played that has cleared the dance floor?
I remember playing Rihanna ‘Umbrella’ at a family wedding and it not going down very well. I was very drunk and I’m not sure anyone else was drunk enough.
A song that’s always likely to get played when you DJ?
DJs playing 7 x 7"s and 12 x 12"s: with Kelly-Anne Byrne / Discotekken / Paul McLoone / Donal Dineen / Hidden Agenda / All City Records / Mother Club / Sally Cinnamon / Choice Cuts / Young Hearts Run Free / Nialler9 / Stevie G / Adultrock / Elastic Witch) / Sweatbox / Una Mullally / le cool Dublin / State Magazine / Ships and more.