During this year I have bought a number of records from a lot of local talent who have made some very fine recordings collectively over the year and here are five of the best.
1. The Flag Listeners
and other short stories
Eamonn Hehir and colleagues John Steel, virtuoso guitar player and co-song writer, and former Toucandance members Sean Fox on bass and Tony Brennan on the drums make this one of the records of the year.
From the opening riffs of the very first track ‘Sitting on Your Shoulders’ which deals with the world of memories that dwell in the past drag you into the record as a listening experience.
The record has boasts the excellent ‘Well Played Mr. Lemmon,’ which deals with the subject of golf. His other songs on the album ‘Tearing down the Homestead’ and ‘Old Tired Melody’ give the record a rocker edge.
This wonderful record deals with a lot of different human emotions like, love, friendship and madness but its brilliance is in the songwriting and the unity of the band. This is one the records of the year anywhere in the world.
2. Emma Langford
Emma Langford first came to my attention when she released her debut EP called ‘Emma Langford.’
She has huge depth in her song writing and it is obvious she has been a keen observer of some of the great songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Alanis Morissette, Leonard Cohen, and Neil young.
I was particularly taken by the tracks” Sandman” ,” Closed Book”, the brilliant “Seduction of Eve” which is just a brilliant piece of song writing.
She is also well served on this record by a wonderful bunch of musicians who give the record a gorgeous feel.
I cannot recommend this record enough. It contains songs that will stand the test of time and is also one of the albums of the year.
3. Hermitage Green
Gold & Rust
Hermitage Green has been compared to Mumford & Sons, which I suppose could have been a good and bad thing, but to I don’t think it has done them any harm at all.
At this stage the band is at a level that many Irish bands would love to be. They can sell out the Olympia in Dublin and King John’s Castle in their home town of Limerick.
This collection of songs on their mini-album ‘Gold &Rust’ is their best set of songs to date, particularly ‘Lions Share’ and ‘Insane,’ which have a huge stadium feel to them.
4. A Weekend Away
A Weekend Away EP
The first time I got to see this band was in Cobblestone Joes here in Limerick. They immediately caught my attention with their raw energy and stage presence for such a young band.
Their offering from this year ‘A Weekend Away’ is a six track EP and is full of blues and rock tunes and this is especially evident on ‘Parseltounge’ which is an out and out rock tune.
Their track ‘Free Of The Land’ has taken influences from everywhere but the opening chords certainly bring me back to when I bought ‘Thin Lizzy’s album “Fighting,” which featured the track ‘For Those Who Love To Live’ which the opening chords of ‘Free Of The Land’ reminds me of this so vividly it is not funny.
I think this young band have a very bright feature, if their first offering is anything to go by. My advice on this band, check them out they are a young band with a bright future.
5. Randolf & The Crokers
Tales Of Little Lanes
Randolf & The Crokers are a band that I really like. They are tinged with a large dose of Americana , a little bit of Country, a tinge of the Blues and a whole heap of rock and roll.
I love Clare O ‘Brien’s vocals on this mini EP particularly on the opening track ‘Village by the Sea’ which is probably the strongest of the four on the record. Although ‘Make Believe’ is a strong runner up featuring Keith Kelly on vocals.
The band on this record play a big part on its production so it would be remiss of me not to mention Shane Storan, John Byrne, Dane Staunton, and James Peters who all add to the enjoyment of this record.
These are the records I enjoyed the most from the enormous amount of material that came across my desk over the last year. I will say this Limerick is in great shape from a musical point of view , I would say to all the musicians that play music and make records in Limerick the future is so bright I will have to wear shades.
Finally, may I wish all the readers of Life on Vinyl a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!