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Single Review: Orchid Collective – Waited on the Sun

 
By on Wednesday, 15th February 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

For a band who have only been together just over a year, Orchid Collective are already making tremendous strides within the Irish music scene. Since the release of their debut EP ‘Courage’ in November 2016, the Dublin-based lads have gained a lot of mainstream media attention from the likes of Clash Magazine, Hot Press Magazine, Irish national radio station RTE 2FM and Nialler9, who recently premiered their most recent single from the EP, released last Friday.

‘Waited on the Sun’ is the second single from ‘Courage’, and it has been self-described by the band as “the perfect ode to the final days of winter.” The longing for warmer nights and brighter days is a sensation everyone can relate to, which is why the track’s anthemic opening brings familiarity, a sense of safety and warmth upon listening. The intro, which doubles as the chorus, acts as the driving force of the song. David O’Shea’s lyrics seem to work as a guiding light rather than its leading feature, leaving enough room for the instrumentation to take a leading role, something that Orchid Collective’s folk-rock predecessors failed to experiment with. This gives the track a hint of ambiguity opening its meaning up for personal interpretation by each individual listener, such as a sonic representation of that moment you notice the buds on trees opening up, indicating the first signs of spring.

The song has an overarching message of love and lust, but this is presented in a rather physical manner, less subtle than the change in seasons. Shea Tohill’s lead guitar parts take on the spotlight role, bringing a real vibrance to the track whilst highlighting the intensities of the song’s dynamics through the use of the extended range of his guitar. This leaves enough open space for Darra Doyle and Hugh O’Neill to experiment with their respective mobile bass lines and physical drum parts, creating tensions and resolutions where necessary.

With a subtle, light and breathy synth pad in the foundation of the track, plus intricate three-part vocal harmonies, ‘Waiting on the Sun’ is a song that can challenge patience and serenity, while displaying strong physicality and vitality.

7.5/10

‘Waiting on the Sun’, the newest single from Orchid Collective, is available now. You can also catch the band at their next headline show at Dublin Unitarian Church on the 4th of March. To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on the band, including editor Mary’s coverage of them at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 last October, go here.

 

Album Review: Orchid Collective – Courage EP

 
By on Monday, 31st October 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

As mentioned previously in my coverage of Hard Working Class Heroes 2016, more than any other culture it seems, the Irish have music in their blood. We expect siblings and other family members, regardless of heritage, to naturally come together with the most beautiful harmonies. The gift of growing up with music in the house, a tradition that goes back many generations in most Irish families, seems to have ensured that virtually anyone can get together and make a joyful, wonderful noise.

That’s exactly what has happened with Irish folk rock group Orchid Collective. Four musicians from various locations on the Emerald Isle, all having plenty of practical experience in their previous bands, came together to form this new group. From an informal conversation I had with the fellas after their Accents Café appearance during HWCH In the City, I understood they bonded over a love of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Hmm, things suddenly have become a lot clearer! I was deeply impressed by their acoustic performance that afternoon. As we all know, not all bands can pull off a stripped back performance beautifully and with aplomb. It’s even more amazing for a band who claim to have only been together for about a year.

The quartet recently self-released a new EP, ‘Courage’. This four-pack of songs were recorded in Dublin’s Westland Studios and at the studio of producer Rob Kirwan, who’s worked recently with Irish superstar and past HWCH participant Hozier, Editors and PJ Harvey. The EP begins confidently with the title track, confronting the courage needed to step away from a dying relationship. Lead guitarist Shea Tohill’s plaintive guitar notes are the perfect foil to David O’Shea’s lead vocals and the smoky quality of the band’s harmonies.

Orchid Collective do the gentle, evocative, yet grand folk sound, something Fleet Foxes made famous nearly a decade ago, well. Interestingly though, they also show the potential for a harder, fuller rock direction on this EP too. The understated drumming on ‘Tomorrow’ are in stark contrast with the sharp guitar lines in the bridge, before the vocals and instrumentation with a psychedelic bent return. ‘Waiting on the Sun’ fully showcase the group’s harmonies, building towards a crescendo at the song’s conclusion. Wholly satisfying.

Both of the band’s HWCH 2016 sets on the Thursday ended with EP closer ‘Blindfold’. The lyrics compare love to both luck and a fire. Seems pretty accurate, given how surprising and unpredictable love can be, and how passion burns when the fire of love is lit. While the verses O’Shea sings are relatively simplistic, when accompanied with the richness of the band’s instrumentation, these songs can soundtrack a world only you can imagine. Less is definitely more for Orchid Collective.

8/10

‘Courage’, the new EP from Irish folk rock group Orchid Collective, is out now; stream the EP below. For more on the band, reach through TGTF’s current archive on them that includes both of their appearances at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 1 evening roundup (part 2)

 
By on Monday, 17th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

It’s a good thing that at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes, the venues were relatively close together. Well, at least Tengu Yamamori and Wigwam were. It also helped that like the Chocolate Factory on King Inn’s Street, Tengu had two stages, which meant easy passing from upstairs to downstairs easily and catching more bands in an evening at the emerging music festival.

New Pope (Galway) @ Tengu Downstairs

New Pope Tengu HWCH 2016

Following the unintentionally humourous set by David Boland earlier at the Gutter bookshop after he’d run from the coach station (yes, so rock ‘n’ roll!), I was curious to see what he’d be like live and with a backing band. The gruff but strangely lovable Boland is the kind of guy you would expect would be laughing over traded shots of whiskey with Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.

I generally doesn’t like the sad, miserable singer plus acoustic guitar setup. Usually, I find this way too boring. Oddly, I actually preferred Boland’s stripped back session back in the bookshop. Maybe it was because the downstairs Tengu venue was full of alarming Japanese décor to match the food and drink on offer (for one, the huge, big-nosed wooden face of a demon came out of the back of the bar), or the continuous red lighting that shaded the artists performing there and made me think I was on the set of The Hunt for Red October? Just goes to show that sometimes simplest is best.

R.S.A.G. (France via Kilkenny) @ Chocolate Factory Stage 2

RSAG HWCH 2016

It was time for some electronic, even if it was for a short time. Damn you, Hard Working Class Heroes clashes! R.S.A.G. (“rarely seen above ground”, real name Jeremy Hickey) was playing the ground level stage 2 at the Chocolate Factory. Hickey is a celebrated drummer, and he wasted no time during his moment at HWCH to show off his frenetic drumming style. Of course, being a multi-instrumentalist, he had all kind of electronics running while he was stuck at his kit. Behind him projected on a screen were fast action videos of traffic in cities, matching perfectly to the sexy high energy of his beats. It was unfortunate I could not stay longer to absorb more of his set so I could go on to another venue, but my interest in his music is certainly piqued and should interest electronic fans.

Orchid Collective (all over Ireland) @ Wigwam

Orchid Collective Wigwam HWCH 2016

Wigwam is the new name of the refurbished former Twisted Pepper, where I attended a reggae night last year put on TGTF friends Meltybrains? Okay, so I’m going to put it out there, it’s a little weird coming into a Latin themed bar in Ireland. But the venue downstairs used during Hard Working Class Heroes provided a nice, intimate setting for folk acts during the festival. Like downstairs at Tengu, the only problem was the distracting red lighting focused on the acts that performed there.

Orchid Collective, who wowed coffee enthusiasts at Accents Lounge earlier in the day, closed out Wigwam’s performances for the night. Similar too to New Pope’s evening performance, the band’s set here didn’t wow me as much as I had expected it to. I think it’s testament to the power and tightness of their combined harmonies and the strength of the songwriting that the music can stand in a stripped back fashion.

They were the band on many folks’ lips the next day, especially people who had arrived late and missed the first day of programming. While I had to disappoint them and tell them they had already left for a show in Waterford Friday night, that word of mouth is proof that they’re ones to watch in the coming months.

Exiles (Carlow / Kilkenny) @ Tengu Upstairs

Exiles HWCH 2016

If I had a time machine and I could revisit a decade, I’d either go back to the ‘60s or the ‘80s. For my love of new wave and the birth of mainstream electronic pop, there’s no contest that the ‘80s were the place to be. As previously discussed, the stereotype I think most people have about Irish music involves sad songs, guitars and fiddles. However, Exiles, a three-piece comprised of producer/musicians Darragh O’Connor (guitar and synths), Johnny Smee (keyboards and electronic drums) and Jack O’Flaherty (lead vocals and guitar), do their part to turn that stereotype on its head.

I felt Exiles ‘won’ Tengu Thursday night with their catchy tunes, taking us back in time when every man was wearing a pastel suit ala Sonny Crockett or, I suppose, getting on the dance floor to New Order. While there are so many acts these days who have a token synth player onstage with them because it’s assumed you will have one if you’re ‘with it’ in terms of technology, this is a band who use electronics adeptly and smartly and in a way that is entirely accessible and has the potential to go mainstream. I recommend you checking out their ‘Red Lights’ EP that came out last month, especially the title track.

Tablets (County Waterford) @ Tengu Upstairs

Tablets HWCH 2016

Poor Tablets. The crunches and squealing of feedback while the duo were setting up sounded like some of their equipment might be suffering from a power surge. Hopefully not. After what seemed like an eternity of setting up and testing out and replacing their leads, the weird was about to begin.

What a stark contrast from Exiles just before them. This is an industrial, experimental electronic sound that proves challenging to people who run from electronic. There is a purposeful darkness to their music, too, that makes it sound like what you’d hear at an alien goth dance night.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 1 afternoon roundup (part 2)

 
By on Friday, 14th October 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

For the first half of my coverage of Thursday afternoon at Hard Working Heroes 2016’s In the City, go here.

Orchid Collective (all over Ireland) @ Accents Café Lounge

Orchid Collective HWCH 2016

Are you ready for my first big tip? Orchid Collective, made up of Irish musicians north and south of the border, appear to be vying for the harmony-filled folk pop slot vacated by Fleet Foxes (or at least as long as Robin Pecknold holds off on releasing album #3). There is probably nothing greater than a collectively massive harmony from multiple voices coming at you, and these four guys know exactly what they’re doing. They’re not brothers but they might as well be (I think it’s an Irish thing?) because their harmonies are on point, which makes sense for a band who idolise Crosby, Stills and Nash. Check out their newest video for ‘Courage’, premiering last week on Hot Press, which exhibits the reverb not possible when playing a stripped-back set in a coffee shop. ‘Courage’ is the lead single from their upcoming EP out next Friday.

Black Wing Bird (Dublin) @ Pitt Bros

Black Wing Bird HWCH 2016

I guess it’s because I grew up with it and it seems normal and boring, but I don’t really understand the appeal of all these burger and barbecue joints popping up all over Dublin and London. Situated on Georges Street, Pitt Bros mentally threw me for a loop, especially since Black Wing Bird (real name James Walmsley) was sat on a chair with his guitar directly adjacent to the restaurant’s pass, where wait staff would pick up orders. It was further awkward when staff tried to get me to order food, and I had to gesture to my camera that I was only there for the music and not for the barbecue.

Walmsley’s voice has that gravelly edge that Bruce Springsteen has made his name with, and he looks like he could be Jon Bon Jovi’s twin. His was one of the stronger single male voices I heard during the festival. I was going to grab him for a chat after his brief performance, but one wonders if he had to run off to the dentist…

New Pope (Galway) @ Gutter Bookshop

New Pope HWCH 2016

David Boland, aka New Pope, arrived to the Gutter bookshop out of breath and just in time for his set following what I’m guessing is the 3-hour coach ride from Galway to Dublin. His observations on life through song are cynical (“I don’t care about refugees, I don’t care about China”) but like any good Irishman, he’s quick on the mark with self-deprecating humour. One of the highlights was ‘Amsterdam’, a sweet number appearing on his 2015 ‘Youth’ LP about a real trip he took with his mum (I think?) to the Dutch capital city. After his set, he was quick to point out to me that he’s not related to Kodaline’s Jason Boland, though I think it’s safe to say no one would mistake one act’s music for the other!

BARQ (Dublin) @ Dublin Ink

BARQ HWCH 2016 2

This is the kind of loud, raucous band that you would never imagine would work in an acoustic (or almost acoustic) setting. Even less so in the front portico of a tattoo shop with curious music fans peering over a wall to see the band. Not exactly ideal. Even under these challenging conditions where she said it felt uncomfortable for her to be sitting and not standing to perform, frontwoman Jess Kav showed off her admirable, soulful vocal chops, so even if you weren’t getting the whole band experience, you still could definitely feel their vibe.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Friday, 30th September 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we recommend with all of our festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Hard Working Class Heroes 2016, including my past preview of the event, is current at the time of posting. But we encourage you to check in at the event’s official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Weekend tickets are still on sale for €45, with nightly and individual venue tickets priced at €20 and €10, respectively. Weekend student tickets will be available for purchase for €25 upon proof of photo ID on Thursday 6th October from the box office at Film Base, Curved Street. To purchase your tickets, visit this page on the official HWCH Web site.

2016 North American emerging music festival alums: We’d be missing a trick not to give a shoutout to the artists we’ve already covered and enjoyed at this year’s SXSW 2016 in Austin (March) and CMW 2016 in Toronto (May):
Comrade Hat (Derry; 10:10 PM Thursday, Tengu Upstairs)
Elm (Dublin; 9:40 PM Saturday, Workman’s Club)
Fangclub (Dublin; 9:30 PM Thursday, Hub)
Jealous of the Birds (Portadown; 9:00 PM Friday, Tengu Downstairs)
Rosie Carney (Downings via Portsmouth; 10:00 PM Saturday, City Hall)
Rusangano Family (Limerick; 9:30 PM Saturday, Chocolate Factory Stage 2)
Search Party Animal (Dublin; 8:30 PM Thursday, Workman’s Club)

Let me introduce you to a lucky seven acts that caught my eyes and ears upon my research of the 100+ strong bill for Hard Working Class Heroes this year:

Orchid Collective (folk / Dublin; 1:30 PM Thursday, Accents Café Lounge [free show]; 10:30 PM Thursday, Wigwam)

The incredible success of Fleet Foxes in the late Noughties opened the door for the march of the alt-folk genre, paving the way for artists like Bon Iver, Family of the Year and Of Monsters and Men to garner global popularity. From one of the traditional bosoms of folk music of the world, Ireland, and with new EP ‘Courage’ out in late October, Orchid Collective look to be the next stars of indie folk.

New Pope (folk / Galway; 3:30 PM Thursday, Gutter Bookshop [free show]; 9:40 PM Thursday, Tengu Downstairs)

It’s easy to suffer from electronic overload and overproduction. So let’s take a step back and strip back to the basics of folk. New Pope is West Country singer/songwriter David Boland, proving that as long as you keep things simple during a thoughtful writing process, it’s possible to write a compelling song. Close your eyes for a fuller sense of the power of ‘Love’ below.

Update 16/05/2020: ‘Love’ is no longer on New Pope’s Soundcloud.

Exiles (electronic / Carlow/Kilkenny; 10:50 PM Thursday, Tengu Upstairs)

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for synthpop, so Exiles are a no-brainer on my Hard Working Class Heroes schedule. This month, they released a new EP ‘Red Lights’, already receiving loads of attention from domestic radio. Given the current music climate for everything synthy, I can see this band going far beyond the ‘80s influences that have been so important to them.

Slow Riot (post-punk / Limerick; 8:10 PM Friday, Hub)

Naming themselves after a Godspeed You! Black Emperor EP, Slow Riot takes the best of those who have come before and puts a unique Irish stamp on it. Having already played a sold-out show in the Capital, they will return to gig in London on the 10th of November at the Sebright Arms after this appearance at Hard Working Class Heroes.

Callum Stewart (pop / Belfast; 12:30 PM Friday, Nine Crows [free show]; 8:40 PM Friday, City Hall) – as of 2020, Callum Stewart now goes by the name JC Stewart

You know that feeling you get when you listen to a new artist and the chills run down your spine? Like I felt with Liverpool’s BANNERS in my SXSW 2016 research, I got that same kind of moment upon hearing Callum Stewart’s pop single ‘Parachute’. Despite being only 19, Stewart has already managed to achieve a poignancy in his songs that much older songwriters have difficulty with. Expect a major label snap-up in the coming months.

Hiva Oa (electronic/rock / Belfast; 8:20 PM Saturday, Tengu Downstairs)

Stephen Houlihan and Christine Tubridy have returned to Ireland after a spell in Edinburgh, and they’ve just released a new EP. ‘mk2 (part 1)’ illustrates well their sound described on a press release as “marrying primal, dizzying electronica and a swelling bass hum, with minimal guitar patterns to create a tightly wound, suffocating and intense atmosphere”. Intrigued? Check them out on Saturday night.

Kid Karate (punk / Dublin; 8:30 PM Saturday, Chocolate Factory Stage 2; our past coverage on them on TGTF here)

Kid Karate are veterans of past SXSW events and this year, the noiseniks really have something to shout about. Their newest and also self-titled album was released in April. Single ‘Louder’, with its unrelenting, thudding backbeat and punky swagger, should give you a good clue what you’re in for if you pop into the Chocolate Factory’s Stage 2 Saturday night.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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