The Popical Island band Skelocrats will return with a new album. The band, made up of Land Lovers’ Padraig Cooney, Grand Pocket Orchestra’s Bronwyn Murphy-White and Paddy Hanna, Groom’s Michael Stevens will release an album Bella Bella in March and the excellent ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is a Belle And Sebastian-style indie track that suggests the band have something great on the way.
Bonus: From last year’s Eardrums Pop single, this is Skelecrats covering Serge Gainsbourg.
Popical Island’s resident rocking storytellers Groom released their latest album Bread and Jam, a true catalogue of Irish life conveyed through guitar, drums and voice. For the video for their latest song ‘Colours’, which “describes an emigrant’s return to dreary Ireland in the bad times,” a potentially depressing sentiment that is made palatable by Groom’s sunny song outlook and a video by Nicky Coghlan which places the focus on the children of Ireland and their natural wonderment. THE CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE AFTER ALL. The children in this video are also Groom singer Michael Stevens’ three daughters Norah, Anna and Lois and Nicky’s daughter Sadhbh. Cute.
Since releasing his first album under the name Ginnels, Mark Chester, who is also in Grand Pocket Orchestra and No Monster Club lest we forget, hasn’t really let up too. Ginnels have become more than a solo endeavour with Paddy Hanna and Bobby Aherne joining permanently and Squarehead’s Roy Duffy and Ruan Van Vliet playing live. Last year was relative quiet but they still managed to release Plumes, a compilation of tracks from the first three albums for Spanish label Tenorio Cotobade.
A Country Life is the fourth album since they kicked off their discography with February 2011’s debut and the first since 2012 highlight Crowns. The M.O is still “like your favourite Byrds and Feelies records being drowned out by your dickhead neighbour’s stoned ‘noise jams’. Except actually good”.
It is also the first album in which Ginnels attempted to use “proper drums” with the express intent of making a short racket of an album that wasn’t lo-fi. However, seeing as the drums were recorded in a cupboard, and everything else in a tiny room, “some things haven’t changed”, notes the press release.
As noted previously, Paddy Hanna is the lead singer of Grand Pocket Orchestra, perhaps the defining “bockety-pop” band in the Popical Island label roster. Hanna’s vocal for GPO have tended to sound akin to a hyperactive child dispensing words excitedly and rapidly. That bright outcome has its charms but for his solo material on the debut album Leafy Stiletto, the mood is a much more adult one. Hanna sounds much more commanding and at home.
His voice is more relaxed and in a lower register in general (not much yelping) and there’s a fine use of his talking/singing voice throughout. Recorded in three days with Mark Chester (Ginnels/GPO), the intention was to create an album of “considerable warmth” and it has been achieved with the help of close players Bobby Aherne (GPO/No Monster Club) and Enda Canavan (GPO).
The toys are kept in the pram with the arrangements that complement Hanna: simple indie guitar, bass drums and a bit of harmonica that prove to be very effective across the album’s 33-minute length. The album touches on American rock like early R.E.M. and Grandaddy while Hanna himself namechecks 1971’s Nilsson Schmilsson by Harry Nilsson and 1972’s Fresh by The Raspberries. While GPO was often a rainbow of cacophonous exuberant noise, Leafy Stiletto bears fruit in its tuneful pleasing limitations.
Leafy Stiletto is out on January 25th through Popical Island on vinyl, tape and digitally (pre-order on Bandcamp). There’s a launch gig happening in the Grand Social the same night with support from Mumblin’ Deaf Ro and Knoxville Morning. Album artwork by Jill Redmond.
Paddy Hanna has been the lead singer in Grand Pocket Orchestra since their inception (dun dun DUN) in 2008. While that lineup’s indie pop charm has wizened somewhat as the band progressed into the more assured sound of last album Ronald & Sylma, Hanna’s eccentric yelp has basically remained steadfast throughout. As he says himself:
“I started off as a solo act, my bit was to stamp my foot while yelping and playing harmonica. The first proper gig I played was called an embarrassment for the reasons mentioned above. I’ve returned to the solo fold to make up for that.”
Earlier this year, A supergroup of Dublin-based Popical-related musicians calling themselves Skelocrats impressed many with their debut Whip Crack Away EP. Today, Land Lovers’ Padraig Cooney, Grand Pocket Orchestra’s Bronwyn Murphy-White and Paddy Hanna, Groom’s Michael Stevens are adding the Hot Yoga EP to their 2012 discography. The two EPs make up the physical release The Complete Skelocrats which is released today on Bandcamp.
The Hot Yoga EP clocks in at a sweaty steamy 20 minutes over 8 muscle-flexing songs of bright and bashful guitar-lead indie-rock music with harmonies aplenty and a multitude of voices providing them. As with the previous EP, the main vocal is handled by a different member which varies from the sweet (Bronwyn Murphy-White on ‘Insant Mummification’) to the spooky (Paddy Hanna on ‘Beat Your Buddies’).
You might have already seen Bobby Aherne’s music video for ‘Baby Reappraisal’ chronicling how the band got together today. That track is an immediate highlight but hroughout the EP, there’s a vim, a jauntiness, and a jangliness coloured with organ and fuzz pedals. This EP zips along.
Having seen the Swords-based musician Big Monster Love live a couple of times, I could understand why you would want to make a tribute album to him. His songs are brittle, beautiful things charmingly played on acoustic guitar and relayed with what could be called a trademark Irish humour: cheek, slang terms, honesty, tenderness and truth.
Plunderphonics: A Tribute to Big Monster Love is the result of a Bobby Aherne of No Monster Club proposal and features 15 cover songs from admirers like Squarehead, The Former Soviet Republic, Skelocrats, Jonny Fun and the…Hesitations, Republic of Loose’s Mick Pyro, The Mighty Stef, At Last An Atlas, Ginnels, So Cow and The Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock amongst others.
Most of the songs are covers of BML’s Game Over album and all proceeds from sales go to the Simon Community. The album was recorded without Big Monster Love’s knowledge and sprung on him in a surprise party. Cunningly, Tieranniesaur managed to get him in to appear on his own tribute album under the ruse that the song being recorded was for Popical Island #3.
I’ve been saying recently that Mumblin’ Deaf Ro is one of the few songwriters whose lyrics I pay attention to. Ronan Hession’s third album is the perfect example of why. Dictionary Crimes is largely concerned with the idea of the family, a word with a meaning which morphs from a social unit you obliviously and unwittingly join when you’re born to one you willingly choose to start yourself. Like I said a few weeks ago – Ro has a charming way of writing and singing about normal life that he uncovers “insights” and rarely clichés. (more…)