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Video of the Moment #1635: The Lost Brothers

 
By on Monday, 22nd September 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

The Lost Brothers release their brilliant fourth album ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ today on Lojinx Records, so there’s really no better time to bring out their latest video for a song from the LP. Dusty and dreamy, this animated clip for the tune ‘Derridae’ fits its mood perfectly. Fall in love with Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech’s beautiful vocals and guitars and watch the video below.

To read my review of the Lost Brothers‘ new album that will unequivocally be in my top albums of 2014, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkU7SUKux9A[/youtube]

 

Album Review: The Lost Brothers – New Songs of Dawn and Dust

 
By on Thursday, 11th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

As the days of astrological summer slowly decrease in number in our march towards autumn, it makes sense that we would gravitate towards less sunny, more autumnal sounding records. This review describes undoubtedly one of the best of the bunch to have the fortune of coming out this time of year. The Lost Brothers, comprised of Dublin singers and guitarists Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, will be releasing their fourth album ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ later this month on Lojinx Records, and what the songs lack in technological advances, they make up several times over in pure musicianship and heart.

As we all know, singer/songwriters trying to make it with just their voice and a guitar are a dime a dozen. While some of the more famous of them now favour in studio wizardry to make them sound better than if they’d gone without, or their labels want them collaborate with other artists not at all of their ilk (the recent announcement of a producer Martin Garrix / Ed Sheeran collaboration comes to mind), there’s something to be said when all there is to be had on record is a vocal and acoustic guitar playing. When there is nothing to hide behind, the goods have got to be perfect. While ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ isn’t without its faults, it’s pretty damn close.

The more upbeat moments on this album are few and far between. The sweet lilts of ‘Can I Stay With You’ is a good example of what was just described: perfection with their vocals and guitars, and nothing else. The Cajun-flavoured ‘Days Ahead’ appears early on the LP, and its placement practically misleads you to the direction of this album. Mostly instrumental ‘Between the Crow and the Rat’ is a short, less than a minute and a half interlude.

The rest of ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ showcase what McCausland and Leech do best: putting a spotlight on sad stories with their talent for turning these sentimental tales into something beautiful. Previously revealed ‘Gold and Silver’ sounds like a happy song but in actuality, is ruminating on the inevitable passage of time while holding on to love. The harmonies in the brooding ‘Poor Poor Man’ is more gorgeous than it should given its theme: in the song, the pair examine the plight of those who have lost all hope. The story of ‘Derridae’, presumably a temptress who has left behind a trail of broken men in her wake, comes with a warning: “so listen now and hear these words / don’t live your life in constant hurt / the days will pass and you’ll remain / a prisoner of Derridae.”

A particularly poignant standout moment on the album is ‘Soldier’s Song’. It’s a bittersweet story sung from the perspective of an enlisted man, disillusioned by the ambiguity of his vocation (“I was a soldier in that old war / they never told me what I killed for”), the friends he’s lost and the uncertainty of when he will return home to his love. Given the current volatile world situation and the unsettling feeling that war is imminent, it may be a simplistic way of approaching the topic, but the delicate words chosen and the equally delicate delivery taken together are nothing short of magnificent.

Another deceptively simplistic song is ‘Walking Blues’, with its jaunty melody and piano notes. Its sweet message that if love is forever, it doesn’t matter what distance separates two lovers, because one day soon they will be reunited (“these walking blues will carry me back to you in time”) has certainly been used many times in popular song, but somehow in McCausland and Leech’s voices and hands, the sentiment has never sounded truer or more genuine.

While many of the themes on ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ are dark, the songs have been written and recorded in such a tender way that you can’t help but feel a warm glow after listening to them. Whether have a love of your own or you are in love with love itself, this is a collection of tracks from arguably some of Ireland’s finest singer/songwriters that you’d be a fool not to own.

9/10

‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’, the Lost Brothers’ fourth album, will be released on Lojinx Records on the 22nd of September. For a free track from the album, go to this previous MP3 of the Day post where you can grab ‘Gold and Silver’ for free.

 

MP3 of the Day #848: The Lost Brothers

 
By on Friday, 8th August 2014 at 10:00 am
 

Some partnerships are just meant to be. Such is the case with the Lost Brothers, a singer/songwriter folk duo comprised of Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, who both sing and play guitar. They took me by surprise, wowing me at the [email protected] night at SXSW 2013. So I was very pleased to learn they have a new album, ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’, to be released on the 21st of September on Lojinx Records.

Ahead of that, they’re giving away album track ‘Gold and Silver’ for free. The song showcases their beautiful Irish voices melding in perfect harmony with the backdrop of gently played acoustic guitars. Listen to the song below and if you like it, grab it for your very own, no strings attached.

 

SXSW 2013: Day 4 afternoon – Music from Ireland breakfast, then a run around Sixth Street for bands new(ish) and old – 15th March 2013

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd April 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Friday afternoon I spent hanging around on Sixth Street, which is probably the best advice I could give anyone attending SXSW for the first time. Four days in and you’re tired. You’re rough from all the alcohol you’ve been drinking, and most likely, your body is screaming because it hasn’t gotten enough sleep. This year I made a pledge to myself to sleep as much as possible, which worked mostly, except I missed out on the Irish breakfast at Irish pub B.D. Riley’s. I had it last year and it was so good, so next year I am setting my alarm clock earlier! I ain’t missing it in 2014.

However, not was all lost. Music from Ireland puts on an all-day, no cover day showcase at the pub and it’s just a good excuse as any to have a delicious, cool pint of cider (there is a god, thank you Ireland!), sit down, relax and take in some amazing Irish music. I missed The Mighty Stef but the next band up were duo The Lost Brothers, who I’d been treated to at the [email protected] showcase on Monday night. Could it just be the confines of an Irish pub, but doesn’t every Irish band sound even better in such a place? I though the Lost Brothers, who already sounded great at Latitude 30, dazzled while framed by the Austin sun. Like last year when I spied Squarehead, General Fiasco and Cashier No. 9 at B.D. Riley’s, the shutters of the place were open, letting natural light in, passerby ducking their heads in to see what was going on.

Declan ORourke Music from Ireland live

Dubliner Declan O’Rourke and his band were next. Cheryl and I have a running joke that if it’s a singer/songwriter, I will run screaming from him/her and she will take to him/her like a duck to water. I really tried to absorb, trying to channel Cheryl and appreciate his music. Unfortunately, it sounded schmaltzy, in a kind of Irish Julio Iglesias fashion (listen to his track ‘Galileo’ on Spotify). His style struck me too precious for my liking.

I had an idea on where I wanted to go next, but I thought, hmm, let me walk around the bar once and see if I can find any Irish bands partaking in the free breakfast and maybe they will want to do an interview? Girls Names‘ American PR told me they would be difficult to find except at their gigs, but somehow providence stepped in and tucked in the back were Cathal, Claire and Philip from the band, and as I rightly suspected, having breakfast. I apologised for butting in during their brekky, asking them if they’d be willing to have a chat with me. They agreed and I left them to their breakfast, telling them to find me later. The interview went well and you can hear it here. Rather hilariously, the lovely Angela Dorgan who organises the Music from Ireland showcases took our picture, quipping, “ahhh…I see you’ve met the infamous Mary!” Since when have I been infamous? Chuckle.

Before the Girls Names interview, I was able to catch one final band at the Music from Ireland afternoon showcase. The band Kool Thing is made up of Irish and Australian members, but they are based in Berlin. This might explain their affinity to electronics, and I can’t be the only person who was surprised to hear electronic buzzing from the Irish showcase in early afternoon. I think if they’d been presented me a year or so ago, I might have had a different reaction, but I can feel myself moving away from oversynthesised music. They sound like a darker School of Seven Bells or Hundred in the Hands to me.

Royal Teeth Sonicbids live

And then it was off to catch a band that I had criminally somehow missed at too many festivals last year. I made my way back to Maggie Mae’s before getting entirely confused by their staff, who didn’t know who was playing which stage. Real helpful. So this is how completely by accident I saw Royal Teeth from New Orleans on the rooftop. Their sound is of the sunny variety that mixes Two Door Cinema Club optimism with female/male vocals of Of Monsters and Men. In short, they’re tailor made for MTV. Not really my cup of tea either, but they were having a lot of fun, and this is exactly the sort of music shines in sunny Austin, even if it’s not entirely memorable.

Tango in the Attic Sonicbids live

So after I realised I was in the wrong place – the American accents were a dead giveaway! – I ran back downstairs to the other stage in Maggie Mae’s for who I was really there to see, Glenrothes, Scotland’s Tango in the Attic. I suspect if they were based in New York a couple years ago, they might have beaten Vampire Weekend in the jaunty, happy guitars race.

I saw a synth and thought, oh dear, not plinky plonky notes again (this seemed to be a running theme of nearly every band I saw at SXSW this). I saw guitars, but I wasn’t expecting the rocking out I witnessed. Wow! Singer Jordan Craig has that slacker / devil my care kind of drawl, which is not something I’d expect from the Scottish, but it works brilliantly. It cemented in my mind that this is a band that could be so much bigger…if they were on my side of the pond. While their music ‘sounds’ just as happy as Royal Teeth’s, I’d rather dance to Tango in the Attic, with catchier rhythms, winsome lyrics and even an occasional horn.

There was one band that my eyes fixated on the first list of SXSW bands were announced in autumn 2012. Figuring I had a better shot seeing them at a daytime showcase than at a night one like Stubb’s (yeah, what a joke) I planned the first half my afternoon around them and the HGTV and Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth. I figured it would be better to arrive early, stake a spot and not be disappointed. This meant that I arrived just as Canadian act City and Colour just ended, so I didn’t really get a feel for Dallas Green except that he has a huge fanbase and screaming fans.

Ron Sexsmith HGTV Paste live

I chilled out and waited for the next act up, another Canadian, Ron Sexsmith. Singer/songwriter. Oh dear. Where is Cheryl when you need her? I did talk beforehand with a very excited Australian woman who said, “I’m a huge fan of Ron’s, he’s the main reason I came out to SXSW”. Well, with a ringing endorsement like that, I couldn’t just well leave, could I? He was wearing a flowery shirt that Stuart Maconie would covet, so that was in his favour as well. The highlight of his set was ‘Me, Myself and Wine’, which accurately summed up the SXSW experience: watching bands gig while relaxing with your favourite tipple. He explained it as an ode to his favourite hobby, listening to albums while drinking wine. Well, different strokes for different folks, right?

The Zombies HGTV Paste live 2

If you haven’t figured it out already, the band that I had been waiting for were the Zombies. I was freaking out madly as their members were mingling in the audience before their set. I was just too nervous to approach any of them; I doubted they remembered the interview two of them had with Braden in London a couple years ago. Sadly, this excitement was misplaced, I was entirely underwhelmed by the Zombies’ set. Don’t get me wrong, they are hugely important in the British music lexicon and so many bands were influenced by them years after they hit it big and made it out of St. Albans.

The Zombies HGTV Paste live

Rather confusingly, as later when I talked to other people who had seen the same set or seen them elsewhere such as Stubb’s that night, and their reaction was entirely different: I heard how “mind-blowing” and “amazing” they were. Did we all watch the same exact band? I realise they are getting on and they’re not going t be as animated as 20-somethings but I couldn’t get into it. (It also did not help that since it was an all-ages venue,I was surrounded by young kids who strangely were hyper about seeing the Zombies and they were pushy. I’d gotten there early, so I didn’t appreciate getting pushed around.) Finally, by the time they rolled out ‘Time of the Season’ out on a gurney, I decided to make a quick escape. Well, as quickly as I could. While in hindsight I suppose I can now say, “yes, I’ve seen the Zombies”, it was a wasted opportunity to see a couple of people I had not seen in nearly a year.

The Crookes Pledgemusic SXSW live

SXSW or no SXSW, I don’t think I’ve ever run out of a venue so fast like a crazy person and to another one. I’m sure I amused some people. Luckily I didn’t have to go far to the Blind Pig, where PledgeMusic was hosting an afternoon of free music and free booze. Always a winning combination, right? I went to the upstairs area, wended my way through the crowd and arrived at the stage just as the Crookes were hitting their stride. For the second time that afternoon, a pronouncement was made about my presence. I don’t think he meant to do it this way, but singer/bassist George Waite, pleased that I had come to see them, said into his microphone and to everyone there, “hell-o Mary!” I laughed to myself. Oh great, so everyone knows who I am now, huh?

The Crookes Pledgemusic SXSW live 2

This was the first time I had the opportunity to see the Crookes since ‘Hold Fast’, their second album and the one I’d anointed with my Best Album of 2012 honour at the end of last year, had been released, and I was raring to see them perform the songs that had become so important in my emotional life in the prior 8 months. I won’t wax too philosophical about them in this post, as I saw them two more times in Austin before all was said and done. But I will say at this juncture that there is something just so amazing watching an English band perform in the sunshine, as they’re clearly having the time of their young lives and soaking up this once in a lifetime experience. Though young, the Crookes are seasoned performers and are just bursting with confidence with every banged chord of a guitar and every frantic drum pattern by drummer Russell Bates.

The Crookes Pledgemusic SXSW live 3

It has been 3 years since they’d been in Austin and even though I was not there for their first time, I am positive that this visit, armed now with two full albums and tons of swagger, went down better the first. I mean, I had met local folks from Austin and Dallas who expressively came out to as many of their five shows that week as they could; we kept running into each other and as an American music lover, my heart melted that so many Americans were coming out to see this band that I had first heard being played on Steve Lamacq’s radio programme and whose sound I had fallen in love with years ago. There was no question what song would end the set. It would have to be *that* song: ‘Backstreet Lovers’. Sounding as fresh as the day Lammo chose to spin it on Radio1, they absolutely killed it. Cue the mad dash of new fans towards the band for photos and autographs, along with my mind silently saying to the crowd, “see? I told you so!”

 

SXSW 2013: Pre-Festival Shenanigans with the Dig at Clive Bar and the [email protected] showcase at Latitude 30 – 10th and 11th March 2013

 
By on Thursday, 21st March 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

You may think it’s mental showing up a full 2 days before the madness known as SXSW officially begins on a Tuesday, but it was part of my concerted effort to ease myself gently into the maelstrom. That’s the benefit of having been through the craziness at least once before; not only do you not get lost every 5 minutes in Austin, you also have the foresight to take it easy as you can.

I arrived in Austin Sunday afternoon after a very bumpy, turbulence-filled plane ride from California shaken up but undeterred with the upset stomach and the chill in the air. (Not kidding. I must have looked strange wearing my winter coat and hat around town the first 2 nights and I am sure everyone knew I was from the East Coast, but I was freezing!) My first night’s goal was to see Brooklyn’s the Dig play the imgur / Brooklyn Brewery SXSW Interactive party at Clive Bar on Rainey Street, on the far southeast corner of downtown. It should be obvious that any party offering up free booze will translate to a good time, and in this particular case, the good people of the Brooklyn Brewery hosted this night of Brooklyn bands, with punters plied with all the free beer they wanted.

The Dig imgur Brooklyn Brewery party

This night was unusual in the sense that on Sunday before the Music portion of SXSW, the only people in town are Film and Interactive festival attendees, so the vibe was different but cool all the same. Not sure it it was the booze or it was because Interactive was winding down, but the Dig had plenty of fangirls and boys squealing to their music and kicking up their heels to their music. The majority of songs they played were either from 2012’s ‘Midnight Flowers’ or were brand new songs only that night seeing public light of day for the first time, so I felt very special being there for their premiere. The lighting wasn’t great but seeing that it was being supported by imgur, it made sense in the SXSW world that animated images lit up the tent under which they were playing. The next day I also sorted an interview with the band, which we posted on TGTF last week; listen to it here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzuJ7G6-10U[/youtube]

Monday was another relatively relaxing day, with few shows going on but really only one showcase I cared to catch. alt-J was playing some showcase on 6th Street and the only reason why I knew this was there a massive queue in the middle of the street and I finally had to stop and ask someone who they were queueing for. (Yawn.) Me? I was headed for the [email protected] showcase at Latitude 30. Not sure why they do this but the Northern Irish contingent likes to have a showcase the night before the festival properly begins, so I was glad I was in town to see it. (According to the video above, they do 2 days at SXSW before going on to Nashville.) The line-up had been up in the air for some time and it was not until I arrived at Latitude 30, the home of the British Music Embassy for the week, that I saw the final bill.

Girls Names SXSW 2013

First up was Belfast’s Girls Names. (No, that’s not a mistake, there is no apostrophe in their name. In an interview coming up soon on TGTF, all will be revealed…) How is it possible that I have not heard of this band before? Guh. It is hard for me to describe what they sound like to anyone else because I had such a visceral reaction hearing them for the first time. A little shoegazey, a little Joy Division-y, a little Smiths-esque, with gorgeous, gorgeous guitars. I cannot overstate how amazing their guitars sounded with Cathal Cully’s dreamy vocals. It reminded me why I stepped away from dance in the last couple of months and have been hankering for guitar music again; there is so much artistry that can be made from a person’s hands on the fretboard of a guitar that too few people in the world truly appreciate. One song had plenty of guitar feedback, with Cully walking straight into his amp; it’s not just for Ritzy Bryan anymore, folks! Check out their new album ‘The New Life’, you won’t be disappointed.

Tim Wheeler SXSW 2013

There had been a rumour that Tim Wheeler sans the rest of Ash would be performing. I think everyone had assumed he would headline the night but he didn’t. As expected he played some of Ash’s major hits, but what was more heartwarming was his closing number, in which he covered the Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’, as if he was offering up a love letter to the Northern Irish music scenes of the past. I chatted with him briefly, telling him I barely recognised him without his beard and him wearing a three-piece suit. He replied glibly, “I like to confuse people!”

Girl from Mars
Burn Baby Burn
A Life Less Ordinary
Oh Yeah
Shining Light
Teenage Kicks (Undertones cover)

The Lost Brothers SXSW 2013

The next band were the Lost Brothers, an Irish duo who, according to their Soundcloud, actually met in a library in Liverpool. They look the part of world-weary folk performers, with their long hair and leather outfits, but they are the real deal, straddling that all too fine line between country and western and folk. Their harmonies are peerless, as if they had been separated at birth and reunited by the stars to make music together. At times they could be bluesy in the Johnny Cash way, and other times they were more straight forward folk. When I was small, my mother had a running joke with my father that country and western songs were either about being in love or having a broken heart. In the case of the Lost Brothers, they have both happy and sad songs, but they are all marked by excellent guitar playing and those all too beautiful harmonies.

I did not hang around for Belfast techno purveyors Psycatron; the evening had begun an hour and a half late and I was already flagging. Besides, I needed my strength for the official start of the festival the next morning. I was ready to take whatever Austin and SXSW 2013 would dish out.

 
 
 

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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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