Album Of The Year 2011 :: Ciaran Lenehan’s Top 5

The idea that there’s a one true ‘album of the year’ is a pretty misguided one. With that in mind, we’ve tried to offer up a series of recommendations from both the Moon & Back Music staff, and from a few notable names from the world of music.
Today it’s the turn of, Irish singer/songwriter and all around good dude, Ciaran Lenehan.

Well, this was tough, I think there was only 5 albums I really enjoyed this year, there was a few that I had high expectations for, but they failed to live up to any expectation I had, one being Machine Head’s latest release Unto the Locust, them being my favourite band of all time it was disappointing. anyway here is the five that I did enjoy.

5. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – S/T

Having heard a few of the singles before the album actually came out, I had expectations for a good album, and it delivered. Great pop songs, Noel has a knack for writing a great hook, and there are several examples of it on this album. My favourite track would have to “The Death of You and Me”, the chorus is just so damn catchy.

4. Scoobius Pip – Distraction Pieces

Having only heard this album last week, I was instantly hooked on it. The opening track “Introdiction” is mesmerizing, the opening lines “I saw a dead fish on the pavement, and thought “what did you expect? There’s no water round here, stupid, should have stayed where it was wet…” Another great track would be one called “The Struggle”, it has a bluesy riff throughout and builds to a gritty and dirty chorus. “Hi my name is Johnny Depp and I kill people”. He’s a poet.

3. Eoin Glackin – Not Lost

This is a smashing debut album from a fellow Dublin man. I got this album last week and instantly thought it was great, think Bruce Springsteen meets Counting Crows.. or something like that. Great pop tunes like “Hard Rocking Woman” and “Hello Caroline” make you want to get up and dance, and the closing track “Carlisle Bridge” well, what can I say about this, it’s his latest single and it’s a wonderful ballad about Dublin, very picturesque.

2. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

Being a fan of Mr.Turner for a long time, and this year I had a the privilege of touring with him on the Irish part of his world tour for this album, which is a great album. “If Ever I Stray” has to be the catchiest song I’ve ever heard, love the lyrics, the melody, everything..this albums flows wonderfully, the lyrical theme of England makes you see the scenery in which he describes in  songs like “Wessex Boy”. This is one of the finest folk albums of the past few years.

1. Mastodon – The Hunter

Well, this album came out the same day as Machine Head’s latest offering Unto The Locust but this album smashed that one out of the water. I can’t think of anything to say about this album other than, it’s fucking amazing.

Interview :: The Sleeping Souls

“…Does Frank consider himself the English Springsteen?” – Ben Lloyd (The Sleeping Souls/Dive Dive)

You might know them better as ‘Frank’s Band’, but those four guys bringing that extra bit of umph to every Frank Turner show are The Sleeping Souls. Nigel, Matt, Tarrant and Ben have been touring and recording with England’s favourite singer/songwriter for years. We sat down with them to chat about the ever lasting tour, playing bigger venues and firework displays.

Interview :: Frank Turner

© 2011 Greg Nolan

“…he’d stand stock still, with a single tear rolling down his face, as all these eight year olds punched him, repeatedly, in the balls.” – Frank Turner

Ahead of his sold out show at Manchester’s O2 Apollo, we had another chat with Frank Turner. It’s been quite the year for the singer/songwriter: He and The Sleeping Souls completed their first headline tour of America, he’s scored a show at Wembley Arena and his latest album, England Keep My Bones, is bound to be cracking a few ‘Album Of The Year’ lists.

We talked to Frank about what it’s like taking to the road with a folk band and a punk band, who’s going to support him at the Wembley show, and he reveals a few details about his forthcoming hardcore band.

Album Review :: Beans On Toast – Trying To Tell The Truth

“…offers up something clever and comedic in equal measure, with very few dull moments.”

Folk music has always been about telling stories. Well, it used to be. Today anyone armed with an acoustic guitar is pigeon-holed as being ‘folk’ and, whilst there’s plenty of valid examples out there, there’s few that do the definition of folk music justice like Beans On Toast. Trying To Tell The Truth follows on from Beans’ previous two efforts, and it’s here that he’s managed to perfect his craft.

Whilst, his debut, Standing On A Chair was rough and ready, it had a lot of charm (a lot like the man himself). It’s these songs that endeared him and his music to the people. Last year saw the release of Writing On The Wall and whilst it was a better produced, more scaled back, effort, it lacked that little something that made the first batch of tracks so great. With this record, Beans has managed to split the difference – creating a polished collection of twelve, very British, folk songs. Just don’t go in expecting something all rose tinted glasses.

Granted, there’s a few on here that try to paint a perfect picture – ‘Peter Pan’s Playground’ says “Hi!” – but, for the most part, Trying To Tell The Truth is a really honest record. Not only that, but Beans manages to cover a range of topics that some would choose to ignore, including: buying new shoes, over population and blowjobs. Each song offers up something clever and comedic in equal measure, with very few dull moments. Despite this, my favourite track covers something a little more traditional. ‘My New Number One’ is a simple, catchy, love song about “Lizzie B” – presumably Beans’ other half – which everyone should be able to relate to.

Beans On Toast might not have the best voice in the world, or masses of technical skill, but his songs are honest and simple, and that’s what makes them great.

Album Review :: Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

“One minute he’s shouting his songs at the heavens, and the next he’s serenading the listener with soft and sweet ballads.”

If there was one man I could live my life vicariously though, it would be Chuck Ragan. I mean, the guy’s awesome: He tours the world relentlessly, he’s built houses and has a voice that can charm the birds from the trees. Thankfully, there needs to be no voodoo nonsense involved for me to achieve my dream. All I have to do is throw on one of his albums and I’m there, chopping down trees and beating up bad guys.* This trend continues with Covering Ground, with one slight difference, it’s better than anything else he’s put out.

That’s not to say his past releases haven’t been good either. Feast Or Famine helped to establish Chuck’s signature style, Gold Country improved on the formula yet again, and Covering Ground does the same again. These incremental improvements have helped to create an album that rivals any other release this year. However, it still remains consistent with the rest of the Chuck’s back catalog and, from the opening chord of the opening song, there’s no doubt that this record is one of his. If that doesn’t let you know, then I think his voice might just give it away.

Chuck’s gruff, yet soulful, voice is better than ever. His gravelly vocal style never fails to impress me, especially as there’s so much range on each of his records. That’s especially prevalent on Covering Ground. One minute he’s shouting his songs at the heavens, and the next he’s serenading the listener with soft and sweet ballads. You don’t often get that kind of range on a record. Chuck’s also managed to compliment his vocals with those of his friends. Frank Turner and Audra Mae help to provide backing vocals, as does Brian Fallon. The Gaslight Anthem frontman plays a prominent role on ‘Meet You In The Middle’ – one of my favorite tracks from the album – his and Chuck’s vocals working really well together.

As always Chuck is joined by a plethora of instrumentalists, all of whom help to make this album what it is. Though all of those featured play an important part, Jon Gaunt is especially impressive here, his fiddle work adding that distinctive ‘country’ element to Chuck’s work that’s been a feature of each of his solo releases. His solo on ‘Nomad By Fate’ is infections and has me jigging as soon as I hear it. It’s clear that everyone plays an integral part on this record and, honestly, it wouldn’t be half as good without them.

Anyone who says you can’t be passionate with an acoustic guitar needs to take a listen to this record: Albums like this are the definition of the word. Chuck has outdone himself again. Covering Ground holds some of his best work, and there’s no doubt that this release is his best to date. If you’re a Chuck Ragan fan, it’s nothing new. Regardless, you won’t walk away disappointed.

*It’s unproven whether Chuck has actually beaten up bad guys but, let’s face it, he probably has. I know he’s chopped down a tree though.

Podcast :: UTB #25: Two Englishmen, An Irishman And Two Scotsmen…

“I drank too much” – Ian Critchley

Clip shows are usually saved to show off the ‘best bits’ of a particular show, or if the creators can’t be arsed to come up with something new. However, Under The Bridge #25 is none of these. We recorded a show with Ciaran Lenehan and Dave Hughes their gig (that we put on!) in Manchester, and it was a little shambolic to say the least. So we decided to cut out the best bits of that show and make a clip show out of them.

Due to the nature of this show, there’s no proper show notes. What we did discuss was a lot of sexual conquests, Dave’s new album and Ben Weasel. It’s a shorter show than usual, which must be a relief to most of you. We’ll be back again soon with a proper show featuring more awesome, musical, guests.

Go on, have a listen:

Under The Bridge #25: Two Englishmen, An Irishman and Two Scotsmen… (Download/Stream or Subscribe on iTunes)

Podcast :: Under The Bridge #24: She Tricked Me With Her Vagina -or- Have I Got Enough For Bus Fare? (1st Anniversary Show!)

“I might just start selling my shit, like…One of your five a day” – Ian Critchley

Can you believe that, a little over a year ago, the idea of doing a podcast was just a passing thought? Oh how far we’ve come. There’s been times when we ran way too long, times when the audio quality wasn’t exactly the best and we’ve definitely offended every listener we have at least once. Despite all of this (and Ian’s original misgivings) we recorded 24 episodes of Under The Bridge.


It started off as little more than two, badly recorded, dudes getting drunk over Skype and talking crap about the latest nuggets of wisdom, bestowed upon us by the music industry. Today…it’s still the same, with Skype replaced by Ian’s flat. In all seriousness though, we’ve had some great guests on the show: Ben Marwood, Chris Farren (Fake Problems), Giles Bidder (Great Cynics) and Jeff Clemens (Gamerwok Entertainment), just to name a few. We’ve also crafted a much tighter, well prepared show. Yes, believe it or not a lot of thought goes into each UTB recording.

So, if you enjoy “the podcast that Chris Farren hates most” – hearing the “Frank Turner Minute”, our stories of woe and all our crudest moments – thank you. I just have one question…why? (Leave your responses in the comments). Anyway, here’s to another fantastic year of Under The Bridge. We’ve got some great stuff coming up that we think you’ll be into. For now, why not listen to Episode #24, or maybe you should watch it?

Cheers!

Go on, have a listen:

Under The Bridge #24: She Tricked Me With Her Vagina -or- Have I Got Enough For Bus Fare? (stream/download or subscribe on iTunes)

Or, perhaps you’d like to watch it?



Music – The Falcon – God Don’t Make No Trash -or- Up Your Ass With Broken Glass

  • Feed The Monkey, Drown The Worm -or- Goin’ Home
  • Look Ma! No Fans! -or- Do You Want Fries With These Songs?
  • I’m So Happy I Could Just Cry Myself To Sleep -or- The Routes We Wander
  • Building The Perfect Asshole Parade -or- Scratching Off The Fleas
  • Huffing The Proverbial Line Off The Proverbial Dong -or- The Blood And The Frog

News:

  • Chuck Ragan collaborating with Jon Gaunt, Joe Ginsberg, Todd Beene (Lucero), Frank Turner, Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) and more on new record.
  • Billy Bragg releases ‘Never Buy The Sun’
  • Henry Rollins touring the UK in 2012
  • Against Me! Talk White Crosses re-release
  • Frank Carter leaves The Gallows
  • Weezer announce cruise
  • Chuck Ragan/Helen Chambers/Sam Russo/Jimmy Islip split coming via Specialist Subject
  • Barlow & Ian (and Jon Snodgrass) name Austin Lucas’ new backing band

Outro:

Where Can We Find You On The Internet?

Anthony

Ian

  • Facebook – Harmonica Frank
  • Blog

The Podcast

Moon & Back

Video :: Dicking Around In York

“It’s a powerful piece. Powerful like a…piston”

Way back in February we embarked on a trip to York. Like a lot of our daft jaunts around the UK, we were off to see Frank Turner (as well as, the wonderful, Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun). With the city of York being as interesting as it is, we felt it was only right that we made another ‘Dicking Around In…’ A number of things have held up this release, but now you can travel back in time, listen to some ukulele and get a tour of the York art scene with Dicking Around In York.


But It’s Cheaper Online! :: The High Street Price Point Of Music

 

Inside you’ll find a plethora of ‘2 for £10’ offers…sometimes even ‘3 for £10’…many titles at just £4.99 and Gaga’s ‘The Fame’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Gold’ and JLS’ self titled all available for £2.99…

Yes, the likes of HMV can seem like a world of bargains for the average pop fan and this likely explains how the music retailer has managed to keep a high street presence despite the fact that online retail is increasingly becoming the hotspot for seeking the best deals. If you happen to like music by bands and artists that – for the most part – escape public consciousness however, you are far less likely to be happy with the in-store RRP’s of those album you wish to add to your collection.


And in many respects, this is rightly so. Independent artists can struggle to make a living (or even, a profit) from their music and so it makes ethical sense to part with a larger amount of your money for titles by such artists. But in the wake of money saving services such as Spotify, Last.FM, and illegal file sharing (naughty!), paying a premium for new music is becoming increasingly unattractive to consumers.

I had £30 of HMV gift cards saved up and so last week, I decided to visit my local store to spend them.  I seemed to walk around the shop for a good half hour in what seemed to be an endless looping motion, uninspired by the racks of disks that surrounded me. I spotted several titles that I would have bought had they have had a lower price tag, including Baddies ‘Do the Job’ (priced at £13.99), Shpongle’s ‘Nothing Lasts But Nothing is Lost’ (also £13.99) and mewithoutYou’s ‘It’s All Crazy, It’s All False’ which had the colossal price tag of £16.99.

I had previously seen each of these titles retailing for far less on various online outlets.

Even though the items wouldn’t have cost me anything thanks to my gift cards, I still felt that blowing them on just two albums would not equate the best of deals. I eventually left the shop with a £7 copy of Frank Turner’s ‘Love, Ire and Song’ (which I felt was more than fairly priced) but I decided to pocket the rest of my credit for use another time.

One might argue that if I loved said music enough, I wouldn’t complain. But hey, I do have to pay rent and eat! Besides which, my annoyance with these high price points is further stimulated by the fact that HMV’s in store and online prices also differ greatly. When I arrived home, I noticed that the Frank Turner CD I had just bought was available for just £4.99 from the online store (including free delivery). I also noticed that many titles from Deftones’ discography were also available for just £4.99 online, whereas in store they carry a significantly higher price tag.

This is possibly a direct result of brick and mortar stores having higher overheads to cover but I can’t help but feel cheated.

I think in the future I will continue to use the internet to source the best prices for music. I would not be surprised if in just a few years time everyone is forced to use their debit and credit cards to do the same but equally, there is something to be said for the convenience that local HMV stores provide shoppers. To purchase and item and to have it immediately in your hands equates instant gratification for customers, unlike the delay experienced when waiting for the Royal Mail to delivery an online order.


You can follow the author of this guest post – Kat Cole – on Twitter @DeadBoomerang.

Podcast :: Under The Bridge #23: Who The Fuck Is Dave Smith?!

“I would absolutely not do it with Davey Havok” – Chris Farren

Everyone knows that Under The Bridge is “the podcast Chris Farren hates most”, so it was quite a surprise when he agreed to come back on the show. Of his own free will, no less. Moon & Back Music’s, Cara Moore joined our Floridian friend to complete this week’s line up. Though we did get Kieran Kelly (of Moving North and Throwing Stuff) on the phone to talk about the upcoming Crazy Arm/Cory Branan/Sam Russo tour. There was also a rap battle…

Go on, have a listen…

Under The Bridge #23: Who The Fuck Is Dave Smith?! (download/stream or subscribe on iTunes)


Music – William Shatner

  • Common People
  • Has Been
  • The Real Slim Shady
  • I Can’t Get Behind That (Feat. Henry Rollins)

News:

  • Against Me! and Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo to support Frank Turner
  • Hot Water Music sign to Rise Records
  • Horrible Crowes preview new track
  • Morrissey talks label troubles
  • Brendan Kelly is making a new record
  • Muppet movie soundtrack to contain: Alkaline Trio, Atreyu, Ok Go and Weezer
  • Jim Ward to compile EP’s for a new full-length
  • Crazy Arm new single coming August 1st. Touring with Sam Russo and Cory Branan.

Outro:

Where Can We Find You On The Internet?

Anthony

Ian

  • Facebook – Harmonica Frank
  • Blog

The Podcast

Moon & Back