Other Voices will return to TV screens for its thirteenth season on RTÉ2 from Sunday April 12th.
Before that, there will be a Hozier special on Sunday March 15th with an interview and live footage, followed by a Best Of on March 22nd featuring James Vincent McMorrow, Lisa Hannigan & John Smith, The Frames, Little Green Cars, The Coronas, Mick Flannery, Kodaline, Villagers, The Strypes and more.
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.
Programme 1 – , March 15th Hozier
Programme 2 – Best of OV – An Irish Affair – March 22 The Best Of, an Irish affair, will feature James Vincent McMorrow, Lisa Hannigan & John Smith, The Frames, Little Green Cars, The Coronas, Mick Flannery, Kodaline, Villagers, The Strypes and more.
Episode 1 – April 12th Damien Rice All We Are Eaves Cloud Castle Lake From the archives Anna Calvi
Episode 2 – April 19th Jessie Ware Delorentos Jape Rusangano Family From the archives John Grant & Conor O’ Brien
Episode 3 – April 26th Ibeyi Walking On Cars Join Me in the Pines Booka Brass Band From the archives James Vincent McMorrow
Episode 4 – May 3rd The Lost Brothers King Creosote Kormac’s Big Band Somerville From the archives The National
Episode 5 – May 10th Wild Beasts Melanie De Biasio Wyvern Lingo Staring at Lakes From the archives East India Youth
Episode 6 – May 17th Young Fathers Buke & Gase August Wells Ye Vagabonds From the archive: The XX
The pairing of music and visuals is something I’ve always enjoyed but the concept of a music video has obviously changed in the last ten years. There are of course, still concepts, themes, ideas, techniques and executions that lift a song into another realm but there’s also so much video content out there now, that there are plenty of live video and TV performances, vignettes, parodies, and short documentaries around music that did the same thing a music video is supposed to do: to put the artist in front of more people. Here are 20 of my favourite “music videos” of this year.
The world sadly lost the Chicago footwork DJ Rashad this year to drugs. His music existed in a discombobulating place alongside his partner Spinn. This fan-video for ‘She A Go’ used stock video footage of office life to do the same thing constructing a hyper-real experience in the process.
The singer Angel Olsen returned with Burn Your Fire For No Witness, her second album, which had a throwback rock feel. Suitably, the video feels like its beamed from another time via its filmic cinematography and Olsen’s movements specifically are inspired by choreographed studio performances from female pop stars of old, of which the director said “were always so wild and psychedelic and humorous from afar. The more you watch them, the more wooden and awkward the performances become. There is a certain loneliness captured. The song ‘Hi-Five’ seems to contain the same sort of duality.”
18. Ibeyi – ‘River’
Video by: Ed Morris
The recent introduction of the Chromecast to the home entertainment system has meant more space and time for music videos on a larger screen. After seeing these girls perform at Other Voices last week, I watched this video again, noticing how the French-Cuban twins are held down by male hands under water, how they hold their breath for long periods of time, the dead-eyed stare and the on-time lip syncing at the centre of all of this deceptively simple concept.
Dance music can be a perfect vehicle for a wide-open music video narrative and Simon Landrein lets his animation and imagination run wild on a stylistic train journey full of suggestion to match the chugging rough house track from the Irish producer.
The Dublin duo of Sean Cooley and Kevin A. Freeney, Clu, have always put their electronic music and visual work on a par and on ‘Mirrors’, they’ve nailed both. It’s a complementary collaboration that transcends a typical visual tacked on to music setup. The video directed by Freeney serves as a chassis for a potent mix of music (an amalgamation of bass / garage / post-dubstep) , visual (cinematic sumptuous imagery), interpretive dancing and colour that makes for an impressive display of art in total.
15. Katharine Phillippa – Live at TedX
Video by: TedXStormont
The Belfast-based musician performs two songs with the help of a loop station, a bow, a drum, a keyboard, a laptop and an author’s intensity that leaps through the screen.
With the upcoming Marriage Referendum in May next year, single-sex marriage will go to a public vote. It’s an incremental attempt at recognising the rights of the people in this country and should pass because who are you or are I to say to someone – “no, you’re love is not the same as mine” or “no, your love is not valid” or “no, your love isn’t something to be celebrated or recognised.”
In that context, ‘Glacier’, a song from the gentle giant John Grant who has battled with his identity and control and who has been made to feel bad for who he is, eloquently addresses those struggling with their sexual identity – “This pain, it is a glacier moving through you, carving out deep valleys and creating spectacular landscapes,” goes the chorus.
The video serves as a brief history lesson of the journey for that recognition of gay rights over the years juxtaposing chronological footage of the American gay rights movement, newspaper headlines, and pop culture to leave you with a stirring narrative of the journey so far. Here you can donate to the Marriage Equality campaign for 2015.
13. Vic Mensa – ‘Down On My Luck’
Video by: Ben Dickinson at Ghost Robot.
There’s a wrong decision at every turn. This video shows the possibilities.
On Sunday at Other Voices, music is our church. But before we get to the actual church St. James, there’s plenty of music to be had on the music trail.
The Clare/Limerick via Zimbabwe rap group God Knows and Mynameisjohn shake open our muscles and our minds in the afternoon before the chats at Jim Carroll’s Banter series in the back room of Foxy John’s. They forgo the use if mics and utilise high stools instead for a high energy performance that finds a more natural home later that evening in the marquee of An Chonair, as young children and their family dance around to the high kineticism of the Rusangano Family, as their album is titled.
Things are much more soothing down in John Benny’s by the bay in the afternoon where Somerville delivered an ethereal set of minimal music with electric guitar, laptop, keyboard and her quiet unassuming Galway voice. She offers solace through an acknowledgment of trying times and combined with hot ports and oysters, it reinvigorated the weary partygoers, Dingle style.
There’s more still over in Dingle district court, where Wyvern Lingo are delivering their own type of pleasing justice: big-voiced folk band pop. On the road to the stunning vistas of the Conor pass, In the Dingle brewing company building, Booka Brass Band offer a complementary prelude to Kormac’s big band later on with a Destiny’s Child ‘Survivor’ cover to a backdrop of giant beer vats. Afterwards, Cloud Castle Lake bring their high falsetto atmospherics to the same brewery floor.
A slinky sexy indie-pop triumph
In the church, the Cork/Brazil/Norwegian trio All We Are create a fine impression for themselves. Their music is slinky and funky: indie music that sounds like the xx with real grooves. We board their fan train immediately. So much so, that they might be our new favourite band.
There certainly feels like there’s some of that chemistry at play. The standing Cork drummer at the back runs the rhythm section, the singer Guro with her oversized bass sways with her instrument. The songs are sexy and breezy: tracks like I Wear You and Feel Safe occupy a delicate bright rhythm.
In thanking them, series producer Philip King says that Guro, upon watching the Other Voices Amy Winehouse film told her mother that she wanted to play that church and there’s a real sense of triumph after their performance.
Romance delivered with a cackle
While her soulful R&B songs are graceful and romantic, the real Jessie Ware is a warm-hearted cackler, a down-to-earth charming lover of Dingle whiskey and a genuine talent. She tells a story of the intimacy of OV producing a comical moment when walking through Benner’s Hotel, where her gig is about to be live streamed, only to hear a girl asking her friend “is she any good?” to whom Ware addresses on stage back through the live stream in the hotel.
But when she opens her mouth to sing, magic comes out, even just in this acoustic format with one guitar and a keyboard. She admits to having a penchant for the unrequited love song and many of hers have drama to them.
The set is chock with Sade-esque soulful ballads. There’s recent album title highlight ‘Tough Love'; ‘You And I Forever’ a song about her fellah “finally putting a ring on it”; her attempt at confident flirtatiousness ‘Kind Of, Sometimes, Maybe’ and her biggest ballad to date ‘Wildest Moments’. Ware is a genuine talent as well as a genuine lady.
Delorentos meanwhile have ended up taking the long way to a sustainable success. Their fourth album Night Becomes Light was released on Universal this year and it feels like the band have been rejuvenated. We used the same word this week but their songwriting and has evolved, as has their performance on evidence of their St. James Church performance.
A late addition, Kormac’s Big Band, a live brass-laden band lead by DJ Kormac, take inspiration from old jazz recordings, Ninja Tune-style hip-hop electronica and turntablism.
Kormac’s second album Doorsteps moved those inspirations into his own space and the result is a live show that feels less novelty and more substantial more akin to Bonobo’s big live show. There is obviously not much chance that the album guests Irvine Welsh, Micah P Hinson and Speech Debelle are here, especially as Kormac were a late addition to the church, but there’s the soulful voice of Claire Young on stage to make up for it, as the band swirl around the stage, anchored by Kormac on laptop, sampler and turntable, ever the master of ceremonies.
Walking On Cars close out Other Voices 2014 and there’s none more fitting than the hometown heroes. One of the pleasures of working on a show like this is watching a band grow. Two years ago, the Dingle band played the IMRO Other Room. Now signed to a major, their set is an acknowledgement of their growing stature on the TV show they all grew up on where clearly means a lot to them. The songs are better, the band are tighter, they’ve considered their performance. The music harks back to the American voices across the sea from Dingle, who dominated airwaves in the 90s: the likes of Matchbox 20 with modern production techniques placing their songs in the now.
It’s another triumph of a set in a day full of them. Just like the TV show itself, it’s gone from an idea to an internationally-recognised recorded music retreat to a mini-festival; a beacon of respectful light in a fast-paced world.
Day One | Day Two | Day Three Saturday in Dingle during Other Voices is hard to resist. The town is taken by a sky that alternates between spurting out rain and dry spells, an uneven clime that makes the many idiosyncratic establishments of Dingle a likely draw from the flannel-shirt-selling Curran’s Pub to An Cúl Ghairdín where a crepe is easily devoured to Foxy John’s where, this weekend, not only can you buy a kettle, rent a bike and have a great pint of Guinness but you could also find Jim Carroll grilling some guests under the Banter banner in the back room like RTE2 boss Bill Malone, mural artist Joe Caslin and Kerry All-Ireland winner and fashionable man Paul Galvin.
On the Music Trail
Pop in at the right time and you might have caught a rare set from special guest SOAK too. The appeal of music elsewhere brings us from the pub to a brewery, specifically, the home of local beer Crean’s where the offering is simple. One pilsner and two bands. HAWK, a band lead by Julie Hawk’s squeaky voice put in a fine display of guitar indie in the brewing room, followed by a one-man show from Jape, who plays upbeat electronic-leaning songs from his forthcoming album This Chemical Sea on his todd with bass slung around his neck and a sampler and laptop by his side.
The wanderer returns
Watching Damien Rice appear before your very eyes to play his songs has a sense of the unreal about it. But it was definitely him up there on the stage in St. James Church for the TV broadcast. That sense of disbelief comes from the eight year wait for a new album with only a handful of TV appearances and a couple of gigs. But that’s the Celbridge man up there. He played the first Other Voices back in 2003 and the same battered and scratched acoustic guitar accompanies him once again singing his old favourite ‘The Professor’ and stretching out a high note to an impressive length of diva standard.
Rice’s new album My Favourite Faded Fantasy might feature production from Rick Rubin, string sections and orchestral passages but there’s no notions of that here. Just Rice, now an evolved singer-songwriter and his old guitar playing ‘The Greatest Bastard’, ‘It Takes A Lot To Make A Man’ from his new album and extended introductory rambles between the songs.
It’s still good to hear ‘Delicate’ sung by Rice especially when it hits that “why d’you sing hallelujah?” crescendo but the big highlight was the set closer ‘Trusty & True’ described by Rice as “a bonfire for throwing things into.” He’s joined by the local Dingle community choir (we spot local record shop owner and legend Mazz O’Flaherty among them) for a rousing eight minutes that casts off the shackles of weariness.
Edinburgh sonic rap theatrics
The Scottish rappers Young Fathers provide the big intensity in the church on Saturday; a huge drum, surrounded by beaten cymbals and pounded with brute force signal a change of mood. When Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and ‘G’ Hastings step up, they don’t let up for set of sonic theatrics with a punk ethos.
The trio take turns in the focus; slipping in and out of mic focus, bending their bodies around each other, wrapping their voices in harmony around a bare synth line and a drum beat. The songs from Dead, their recent Mercury Prize winning album grow anthemic the more you hear them, from the lo-fi kick of ‘Get Up’ to the alt-rap of ‘Low’ to the scream in the dark of ‘War’.
“Whooooosh,” they sing throughout as if they understand what they’re doing is evolved past what most people are used to experiencing in a live gig. The cathartic set is drawn to a bass-rumbling close with ‘I Heard’ and its refrain of “inside I’m feeling dirty” ringing in our ears as the band exit the church straight through the main door.
Considerable and considerate music
It’s left to Wild Beasts to pick up the pieces. The English band visited Other Voices in 2011 and since, their latest album Present Tense has evolved their songwriting into a new plane. When you watch a band like Wild Beasts play live, they show up the lack of musicianship and skill in many other bands in their intricate level of detail and consideration.
It’s alchemic. They have the frontman Hayden Thorpe, dressed out of every possible modern fashion with a delicate falsetto who leans into his keyboard and waltzes with his bass guitar and an invisible ghost. They have the gravelled lower tone of Tom Fleming anchoring Thorpe’s flightiest octaves. And in drummer, Chris Talbot, they have a drummer who creates unique patterns all his own and is worth watching for the entire set, which is drawn entirely from fourth album Present Tense.
Later on, the unreal continues in Benner’s Hotel across the road as Damien Rice re-appears to corral a post-gig crowd singing ‘The Auld Triangle’ to join him to raise their voices alongside him, well into the early morning.
The team at Other Voices might be 100 people deep who have been working for months on bringing the TV show back to the ring of Kerry every year but there’s one variable they can’t control: the weather. It’s not called the Wild Atlantic Way for nothing.
But if it’s ferocious outside, it’s breezeless inside the doors of John Curran’s pub on the Main Street in Dingle where poetician and Dublin “wurd” artist John Cummins is warming up the creative side of our assembled brains with rhymes and words that twist and turn like rap and sean nós about Phil Lynott, his daughter and the sizzlers and sozzled of the late night chipper.
Best laid plans of Us and Ben
It is a brief respite as news reaches that the tumultuous sea and roaring weather has taken Other Voices’ best laid plans down with it. Ben Howard, anticipated by many, including a throng of people waiting patiently outside the hearth of the show, St. James Churcis not able to perform. “The weather has been loud,” says series producer Philip King in his introduction as acknowledgement.
Stepping into Howard’s English singer-songwriter shoes, the young Leeds musician with the long black hair, Eaves, offers dark finger-picked guitar folk as an alternative. Eaves has a voice that swirls in the song with an expressive bass-laden tone that is older sounding than his pale skin suggests.
In songs like ‘Alone In My Mind’, he recalls the American alt-indie singer Kurt Vile (the hair also suggests that) except with a greater clarity of speech. When he takes to the piano for ‘Timber’, singing about “boys up the street” he reaches further back to singers who sat behind a grand instrument in the late seventies.
Scotland rises up
Tradition is rife in the music of Fife’s Kenny Anderson, the prolific Scottish artist known as King Creosote and introduced by BBC Radio One DJ and our Other Voices host Huw Stephens, as a man who has released 40 plus albums, many of those on self-pressed CDRs.
Most recently, his work with electronic producer Jon Hopkins, the 2011 album Diamond Mine brought him a Mercury Music Prize nomination. Anderson is most influential in the folk scene of his homeland, from his address on the eastern Scottish coast of Fife, a fertile home for musicians like The Beta Band, The Fence Collective and James Yorkston as threaded together narratively in Vic Galloway’s book Songs In The Key Of Fife.
Anderson’s songs and torrential output is part of the history of that place and he brings a flavour of that with his peculiar dialectal howl and his own Scots clan playing with him on cello, piano and drums. ‘Pauper’s Dough’, a new song from his recent album From Scotland With Love, is anthemic in its sound and sentiment, urging us “to rise above the gutter you are inside,” while ‘Largs’ from the same album adds a vaudeville shuffle to proceedings. From one coast to another, King Creosote’s music finds a home wherever it goes.
The nomadic harmony folk duo The Lost Brothers might think of “home” as a loose concept at this point. The Navan and Omagh metaphorical siblings share a penchant for a life on the road, currently clocking in at two and a half years travelling around the world to share their songs.
They record nomadically too, finding like-minded producers in Nashville, Sheffield, Portland and Liverpool, to name but four. Their songs recall the greats: Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel. There’s power in two old-fashioned voices, effortlessly able to support and compliment each other in such minute detail.
Songs from their fourth album New Songs Of Dawn & Dust, ‘Derridae’, ‘Soldier’s Song’ , ‘Hotel Loneliness’ and the lilting ‘Gold & Silver’ bring us to a time we could never have lived. They are joined by violinist Steve Wickham and the illustrious Frames fiddle palyer Colm Mac Con Iomaire throughout and a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Corrina, Corrina’ is a particular highlight. The Lost Brothers described Other Voices as “a glowing emerald” and it’s a suitable description for the band themselves: a striking thing, rare and rococo.
A jolt from the buke
If The Lost Brothers had us drifting to the past, the New York duo of Buke And Gase jolted us to the present with rumbling rock music made by customised instruments that give the band their name. The “buke” is a baritone-ukelele and the “gase” is a guitar/bass hybrid that produces those low rumbles. The pair also use a “toe-bourine” (you can guess what this does) and a range of effects that change the tone of Arone Dyer’s voice into lower octaves.
The thunderous duo tell the congregation we can stand up despite them sitting down but it’s hard to figure out whether to rock out or sit back. Buke And Gase’s entire song craft sounds like its hurtled into a filter that garbles and mangles the source. It’s discombobulating and strange, like listening to a hiss-filled cassette that has caught in the stereo on an off-kilter loop.
There are moments of chugging strings, rock histrionics and a song that sounds like Marilyn Manson’s ‘Beautiful People’ all adding up to an experience that is like listening to sheltered folk musicians from the 1800s interpreting rock music after reading about it in a book. It’s thrilling and warped.
To further prove the point Dyer pitch shifts her voice to a baritone on her thank you speech, prompting an audience member to quip “Other Voices? Sure she’d several of them.”
Twins stand apart
If there’s a singular standout performance on the night it comes from French-Cuban twins Ibeyi, who turn 20 at midnight moments after their show. Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, are young yes, but they have illustrious parentage. Their father, Anga Díaz, was a well-known Cuban percussionist who played with Buena Vista Social Club.
His death prompted the twins, encouraged by their Venezuelan mother at age 11 to learn the cajón (the percussive box instrument) and to sing the songs of his ancestors, sung in the Nigerian tongue of Yoruba.
They arrive on-stage in St. James’ Church singing in that tongue a capella. It becomes very clear why XL Recordings, the label home to Adele, snapped these two up to release their debut album next year.
They are magnetic in performance. Lisa-Kaindé sits at the piano with Naomi facing her. They are distinct personalities despite their closely-shared genes. Lisa-Kaindé has the style of a jazz/soul diva while Naomi, a lover of hip-hop and electronic music is more energetic and employs a sampler and a range of percussive instruments. She even uses her body as an instrument, beating her chest, snapping her fingers and slapping her thighs on a brittle song about their mother (who is in the audience) called ‘Mama Says’.
They sing in English but their outbursts of Yoruba language bring some African exoticness. They perform a cover of Better ‘In Tune With The Infinite’ by the rapper Jay Electronica, someone not expected to by cited in a church in West Kerry but it’s their performance of the single ‘River’ that gets people clapping along and stomping feet in the pews to its simple gospel-tinged beat.
It’s still early days for the twins but they captivated and excited the audience with their talent. A room fell in love with their sound and energy. Upon finishing their set with a rousing a capella, the church stood up with them to offer a standing ovation. Music producer Aoife Woodlock appeared and presented the twins with a cake with “Ibeyi” written on it to mark the first day of their twenties and a marquee performance.
Invigorated, the crowd dispersed into the night. Some headed to the afterparty central of Benner’s Hotel, some went to An Chonair to see Kormac’s Big Band tear it up, while some of us, ended up where we began, with a Dublin lyricist inspiring us with words, this time, the rapper Lethal Dialect and his band in McCarthy’s.
Other Voices is being filmed this weekend in Dingle and they’ve just announced the day by day breakdown, which is good as I have a pair of tickets to giveaway to one lucky reader and a friend to each of these lineups in the genuinely intimate St. James’ Church.
Ben Howard / Buke & Gase / Ibeyi / King Creosote / The Lost Brothers
Damien Rice / Melanie De Biasio / Wild Beasts / Young Fathers
All We Are / Delorentos / Jessie Ware / Walking On Cars
Wild Beasts, King Creosote, Melanie De Biasio and Ibeyi.
Some of the names for the Other Voices Music Trail which happens in pubs and venues throughout the day before the limited capacity church gig and is free in include A Lazarus Soul, Daithi, Floor Staff, Marc O’ Reilly and Ye Vagabonds.
Jim Carroll’s series of talks, Banter is back in Foxy John’s bar too including guests Paul Galvin (the Kerryman in his own words), Paddy Cosgrave (Web Summit), Annie Atkins(graphic designer, Grand Budapest Hotel) and (Gavin Sheridan – the journalist and blogger behind TheStory.ie)