REVIEW: Whelan’s Ones To Watch 2014.

O2W

Sadly I couldn’t make it to each night of the Whelan’s Ones To Watch festival this year, but I was able to head to the Friday and Saturday to catch some of Ireland’s most promising upcoming artists. Acts from the Wednesday and Thursday that I regrettably missed include: Monsenior, Me And My Dog, Beach, Floor Staff, Carriages and The Vincent(s), so be sure to keep your eyes and ears out for these bands over the next year.

On the Friday night I managed to catch a little bit of Biggles Flys Again, whose début album I’ve written about at length, Color//Sound and Women’s Christmas, whilst on the Saturday I saw Otherkin and Paddy Hanna.

Color//Sound

color//sound
Color//Sound are a recent enough discovery for me, and since seeing them for the first time at Electric Picnic 2013, I may have fallen a little bit in love. Formed in early 2012 by four BIMM students—Brendan McGlynn, Oisín Furlong, Steven McCann and Ben Roe—they have managed to create their own, unique blend of intricate vocal harmonies intertwined with tight musicianship and bloody good songwriting. Hitting the stage at nine, the lads managed to nicely pack out the main room long before their set came to an end. Their set included People, Weekend Friend and To The Countryside, all songs which easily demonstrate how solid a band they already are; clever lyricisms combined with their charismatic presence on stage means the audience are captivated in mere moments, honestly making Color//Sound one of the most exciting new bands on the scene right now.

Having already played Electric Picnic, Life, Knockanstockan and Vanstival, they are clearly no strangers to the festival circuit so it’s not exactly hard to imagine that we’ll be seeing some pretty exciting dates for Color//Sound over the next few months.

Go forth and listen to some of their songs over on Soundcloud! (Be wary of Peoplehowever, because I can honestly guarantee that it’ll be stuck in your head forever after only one listen…)

Women’s Christmas

women's christmas

If you haven’t already read my review of the brand new Tremendous EP from Women’s Christmas, I am shocked and appalled and have nothing to say to you other than that you should go and read it now. Actually, not right now, perhaps after you finish reading this post instead. I won’t go into too much detail about the noisy three-piece since I have talked about them recently, but they are, respectively: Ronan Jackson, James Byrne and Bobby Aherne from Jogging, Villagers and No Monster Club.

It was half eleven by the time Women’s Christmas took to the stage Upstairs at Whelan’s, and it couldn’t really have been a more perfect setting. The tight space meant everyone was huddled together in what was definitely the sweatiest gig of the night and their energetic performance had the room in an absolute whirlwind. Summer Born, Winter Bred was definitely the highlight of their set for me, but songs like Sea Legs were no less captivating in the live environment.

I think 2014 will be a good year for these chaps, and hopefully we’ll see them playing more and more gigs by the time we reach the summertime. Check out Women’s Christmas’ Tremendous EP on Bandcamp.

[This is where I have to insert other people’s photos from the web because my phone was nicked; I’m sure you’re devastated by the resulting lack of grainy Instagram photos.]

Otherkin

otherkin-promo

I’ll have to admit that the first time I saw Otherkin was a little bit of a strange one… They were playing Workman’s in June last year as support to The Hot Sprockets, and regardless of how much I have come to like both bands, sonically it seemed like a very odd pairing! Nevertheless, I was really impressed with them on the night and was looking forward to seeing them again. Made up of four lads: David Anthony, Luke Reilly, Rob Summons and Conor Wynne, Otherkin are a little bit punk, a little bit pop, delivered along with quite a heavy dose of alternative rock.

By the time we arrived to Whelan’s at nine, there was such a great buzz around the main room. It was clear that many of those present had come with the intention of seeing these guys play, and by the end of their performance, the room was jammed. Whilst they say very little, their set, akin to the sound on their début EP, Broken English, was varied and compelling. Lockjaw, “a pop song about depression,” is deceivingly uptempo with its use of a more jangly, muted guitar sound, whilst songs such as Good Drugs and Better Undone emphasise the band’s heavier influences and lead to some captivating extended jams.

Judging by their raucous reception on Saturday night, I have full confidence that these guys are maturing with each release and destined for great things! Have a gander over on their Bandcamp and grab yourself some free Otherkin goodies, along with their Broken English EP.

Paddy Hanna

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Paddy Hanna was the last performer I saw at the Ones To Watch 2014, and goodness me did he end it well! His début solo album, Leafy Stiletto, which will be released on the 25th of this month on Popical Island, sees him take an entirely different approach to his sound than he has with his other band, Grand Pocket Orchestra. Whilst Grand Pocket Orchestra are nothing short of bizarre, Paddy Hanna—with regard to his vocals and lyrics—seems to have reigned himself back somewhat. This is in no way a criticism, however, as his fantastic upbeat pop music makes for some fantastic listening.

Funnily enough, the only other time that I’ve seen Paddy Hanna was at the very same Siteation gig where I first laid ears on Women’s Christmas, so was interested to see how his set had progressed since September, particularly since he now has a full album under his sleeve. Opening with the first track of the album, Rosslare Tapes, it was plain to see that his confidence in the new material has come on in leaps and bounds. His nimble falsetto rang through Whelan’s smoothly on songs such as Leafy Stiletto, but for me the key song on the night was single Join The Army, on which he employs a harmonica to give the song an upbeat folky quality and had the whole crowd tapping their feet.

Leafy Stiletto is currently available to pre-order on Paddy’s Bandcamp and you’d be daft to not at least give it a listen all the way through!

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