Wearing influences on her sleeve from Big Star to Cocteau Twins, Heart Shaped is the dreamy pop project of Belfast-based songwriter Kendall Bouquet. Following on from the 2020 EP ‘Second Hand’, which gained critical praise with international radio play from KEXP to the BBC and a feature on the front page of Bandcamp, new single No Contact finds the Texas native meditating on ambivalent love over a fuzzed-out soundscape of shimmering melodies. Together with surf inflected B-Side ‘Version of You’, the two tracks form a snapshot of a maturing songwriter hitting her stride, unafraid to mix a catchy pop sensibility with introspection and catharsis. Recently awarded the Chordblossom Kickstart Prize, Heart Shaped is poised as a rising star in the Irish music scene and one to watch in 2022.
“Bedroom pop in the truest sense, fuzzed-out and propulsive with charming melodies” – Bandcamp New and Notable Picks
“It’s Waxahatchee campfire sonic burn-out and Dinosaur Jr listless melancholy that’s so insistent it eventually grabs you by the throat and shakes your head until you see stars” – Did Not Chart
Multi-instrumentalist Rawney (a.k.a. Ciarán Calnan) is an independent artist hailing from the musical melting pot of Clonakilty, west Cork.
Having played in various bands from the age of twelve, most notably Setmaker, he has been focusing on solo endeavours of late and the release of his debut EP, ‘Say It Loud’.
Rawney’s sound is a blend of rock, indie, folk and pop which has drawn comparisons to some of his influences including The Frames, Mic Christopher,Incubus, Foo Fighters and Stereophonics.
Renowned for his powerful vocals and energetic live performances, Rawney has honed his craft over the past decade by performing hundreds of gigs, both at home and abroad, at various venues and festivals in Ireland, Australia, Canada, Vietnam and Spain. Songs which were written and initially performed on an acoustic guitar got a new lease of life in the studio, resulting in an exciting full band sound throughout this long anticipated debut solo release.
Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered with Brian Casey (John Blek, Rowan, Clare Sands, Tiz McNamara, Paradox) in Wavefield Recording Studios in Clonakilty, this collection of songs has been brewing for almost four years. Rawney takes on the vocals, guitars and drums himself while Casey adds his magic touch on bass, electric guitar and keys. The EP also features the talented Dolcie Keogh on violin, a partnership rekindled from their Setmaker days.
“Themes of speaking up, addiction, the pitfalls of social media and not making rash decisions are touched upon over the course of the EP, and with songs in the bank, expect plenty more to come down the line.
“Many talents come and grow in Clonakilty, but Rawney’s voice, guitar playing, drumming and all round musicality make him one of #guitartowns MVPs.” – Clonakilty International Guitar Festival
Long time friends and former bandmates The Bones Below write and perform in a wide variety of musical styles. After a brief stint in metal band Heavywait in the mid 2000’s the band reformed in 2018 with the addition of piano and harmony vocals, and have been writing, recording, producing and releasing their own material ever since. There’s no limits, so anything goes.
Hailing from West Cork, Cork city and Laois, this four piece brings very different influences to the table. Taking their musical markers from rock and death metal to blues and folk, there is no area off limits when it comes to musical expression. The full band sound is often high energy rock with thrashing drums and soaring harmonies. But equally the bones below will strip back to allow for the gentle acoustic side of the band to flourish. Whatever incarnation of the band you encounter, you’ll be guaranteed to find four people playing for the love of the song.
Post Punk Podge & The Technohippiesis a figment of punk and the post’s collective imagination in the form of a singer/rapper/musician from Limerick, Ireland. An accomplished violinist, Podge’s goal is to turn the brown envelope from a symbol of corruption, deception and greed into one of self-expression, defiance and laughter.
Accompanied by his sidekicks Dr. Asparagus Montague and DJ Carey and Mr. The Boom is Back, they are stirring things up in their native Ireland with their own sound, a blend of punk, electronic, krautrock, techno, irish traditional music, hip hop and classical. October 2017 saw Podge collaborated on the Stark Raving EP with NaIve Ted, as well as release the debut Post Punk Podge and The Technohippies EP Kick Against The Pricks, a month later. 2018 saw even further collaborations with Jimmy Penguin on his Savages EP, as well as thesingle ‘Home is Where the Heart Bleeds’, which raised money for the Novas homeless charity in Limerick.
2019 has seen a single ‘Government Security’ in January, ‘Post Millennium Tension EP’ in February. Collaborations with Craic Boi Mental, Liv 3 and DJ BleakStack to name but a few.
They released‘Transmissions from the G.P.O.’ aninstrumental mixtape on the Unscene labelat the end of 2019. Which showed many other styles to their sound including funk and ambient.
They released their album ‘Euphoric Recall’ in 2021 toc critical acclaim coming in at number 9 in the Thin Air’s end of year list. Things are only getting started for Podge and the band. These highly acclaimed releases have helped them build a firm following and become one of Ireland’s most exciting bands.
As a babe Jeffrey Martin sought out solitude as often as he could find it. He’s always been that way, and he has never understood the whole phenomenon of smiling in pictures, although he is a very happy guy. One night in middle school he stayed up under the covers with a flashlight and a DiscMan, listening to Reba McEntire’s ‘That’s the Night that the Lights Went Out in Georgia’ on repeat until the DiscMan ran out of batteries. That night he became a songwriter, although he didn’t actually write a song until years later. After high school he spent a few years distracting himself from having to gather up the courage to do what he knew he had to do.
Eventually he found his way to a writing degree, and then a teaching degree. He wrote most days like his life depended on it, all sorts of things, not just songs, but songs too. He fell in love with teaching high school English, which was fantastic because he never thought he’d actually come to truly love it. His students were fierce and unstoppable forces of noise and curiosity, and for all that they took from him in sleep and sense, they gave him a hundred times back in sparks and humility.
All the while he was also playing truckloads of music. There was one weekend where he flew to LA while grading essays on the plane, played two shows, and then flew back home, still grading essays, and woke up to teach at 5 am on Monday morning. It was around this time he started wondering if such a life was sustainable.
Alas, music, the tour life, was a constant raccoon scratching at the back door. Jeffrey spent nights on end sitting up in bed, and then sitting on the front porch, staring off into the dark, wondering if he could bear to leave teaching to go on tour full time. Eventually his brain caught up with what his guts had known for months. With tears in his eyes he announced to his students that he wouldn’t be back the following year, and that he didn’t feel right hollering at them to chase their dreams at all cost if he wasn’t going to do the same.
Jeffrey Martin tours full time now. He is always making music, and he is always coming through your town. He misses teaching like you might miss a good old friend who you know you’ll meet again.
Jeffrey has put out bunches of music since 2009, but he’s most proud of the more recent stuff. He’s fortunate to be a part of the great and loving family that is Fluff and Gravy Records in Portland, OR. “One Go Around,” which released in October 2017, is his 3rd full length album. At his luckiest, he’s shared shows with the likes of Sean Hayes, Gregory Alan Isakov, Courtney Marie Andrews, Jeffrey Foucault, Joe Pug, Peter Mulvey, Amanda Shires, Sean Rowe, Tracy Grammer, David Wilcox, and others.
He currently lives in Portland, OR but feels lately that it has become a secret that someone figured out how to monetize. And since he has no money of any kind, everything beautiful about the city is marred by the quiet ticking of a countdown toward the day that he’ll have to find somewhere to live that doesn’t require a steady bleeding fortune.
This Belfast-based Irish noise-punk 4-piece formed in late 2019. Offering venomous hip-hop-inspired vocals that are asuncompromising as the guitars are unforgiving, layered on a rhythm section that draws as much from left-field electronica and techno as it does from post-punk heroes of the late 70s.
Oregon-based songwriter Anna Tivel’s newest album Outsiders starts with a lens so wide that we have left the planet to look back from a great distance at the turmoil and beauty of our shared humanity. From there, the lens pulls close and unfolds in a gripping collection of stories so often ignored. Tivel’s flawed and honest characters move through a landscape of hurt and loss, of small triumph and big love. In 11 songs full of recognition, veracity and hope, Tivel’s watchful and empathetic eye details the undeniable ache of living.
Outsiders, look up / The night is dark but brilliant and it turns out we are not so different
Recorded almost entirely live to tape in Rock Island, IL with producer and multi-instrumentalist Shane Leonard and engineer Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens), the album is a truly collaborative exploration. Tivel gathered the same vibrant group of friends from her acclaimed record, The Question, which NPR heralded as “one of the most ambitious folk records of 2019.”
“We holed up together in a little house a few miles from the studio,” she says, “walked there every day to sink deep into the music. No one had heard the songs beforehand, and I would play each one sitting on the floor trying to convey the gut feeling. Then we’d face each other in a circle and feel our way through, working to find the heart of each song in a few takes. Shane brings this layer of uninhibited magic to every session, setting the stage for everyone to listen deep and react with open doors. He gives himself as fully to sonic atmosphere as I do to words and I have a great amount of trust in his vision and admiration for the care he takes with the world of each song.”
The constraints of analog recording fostered a rawness and immediacy in the final tracks. The arrangements on Outsiders are spacious and full of intrigue, drawing you into the cinema of Tivel’s lyrics. The title track opens the album with a meditation on the first moon landing. “I wrote it sitting on the floor in front of the TV between fragments of an Apollo 11 documentary,” she recalls. “The news was feeling especially dark, full of pain and distorted truths, and watching all that incredible footage of human hope and achievement hit me so hard. For just that one moment in the great upheaval of the times, everyone paused together to witness something new and full of wonder.”
The second track “Black Umbrella” is a winding story that follows a small-town robbery and a bystander who tries to help only to fall under the weight of misconception and old, broken systems. “It’s a song about all the ways we fail to really see each other,” Tivel shares, “about poverty and desperation, race and power, history, opportunity, and otherness.”
While writing the album in 2019-20, Tivel found herself circling back again and again to this idea of otherness. “The deep division and ugly rhetoric being amplified–especially in the US–seeped into everything I wrote. I kept wanting to explore this feeling of being unseen, profoundly lonely and disconnected, and how it affects our perception of the world and our place in it,” she says. “Outsiders is an album about looking more deeply into ourselves and each other, really trying to see and examine the internal and external forces that keep us from connecting in real ways and the forces that draw us together.”
Throughout her work, Tivel has emphasized storytelling and this album is no exception, building on the strength of her ability to observe and reflect with a clear-eyed empathy. Inspired by authors from Steinbeck to Morrison, Didion to Dubus, she imbues her songs with attentive detail and a dreamlike quality that leaves the ordinary feeling both palpable and poetic. “Tivel’s characters are common but unforgettable,” NPR’s Ann Powers writes, “Her images linger, and become populated with the energy of the real.”
Outsiders will be released by Mama Bird Recording Co. on August 19th.
Hundreds of thousands of miles away, the endless expanse of a dream / Pausing the burning of cities to say we are beautiful when we believe
Experimentation is at the core of Robocobra Quartet, whether it be in the fluid line-up (six musicians tagging in and out to make up the live touring quartet) or in their unique self-produced records made in their hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
These juxtapositions are just the beginning of the complex world of Robocobra Quartet – a band serious about their music but humorous in their approach, including members with no musical training alongside members with music conservatoire pedigree. The result is a collective of musicians inspired by Stravinsky and Dead Kennedys in equal measures. On stage, the band are protons and electrons circling drummer-vocalist Chris W Ryan; meticulous arrangements and on-the-spot improvisations hang on every word spoken, sung and shouted by Ryan. These words and rhythms are what propel the music of Robocobra Quartet forward and concoct a sound that is groove-driven but cerebral too, invoking the likes of Fugazi, Talking Heads and contemporaries such as Black Midi, Squid and BadBadNotGood.
The free nature of the band’s live shows led to them being embraced early on by jazz fanatics just as much as rock fans – once finding themselves in Europe touring a jazz club one night, a house show the next and a pop festival the night after that. These unmatched live performances often channel-hop from moments of joy and playfulness to periods of intense fury, earning the band invitations to Montreux Jazz Festival, Glastonbury Festival and as far as Inversia Festival in the polar north of Russia whilst receiving acclaim from the likes of The Quietus, MOJO, BBC 6Music and KEXP.