I was delighted to be asked by the wonderful music blog Musician.ie to provide a few of my “best of” musical moments of 2014 but rather than do that as it’s always a little presumptuous to declare something the best when all you’re really doing is offering your opinion so instead here are a few of my favourite musical things of 2014.
Favourite Irish Song
Sisters – Hush Hush –
This Limerick band in exile have spent most of the past 12-18 months in London honing their sound under the watchful eye of Al O’Connor and despite having only released only 2 singles in 2014 including this catchy guitar pop effort they have already garnered quite a sizeable following and a huge 2015 awaits.
Favourite International Song
Arcade Fire – Reflecktor
There been some crackin’ releases this year but this one gets my vote for a couple of reasons. Firstly it saw Arcade Fire get their groove on courtesy of some help from producer James Murphy and secondly because of the novelty of having a lead single being over 7 mins long – we need more of this type of thing. And if all that wasn’t enough it has a cameo from David Bowie too !
Favourite Irish Album
James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical
This time last year I certainly didn’t think I’d be sitting here with the latest album from James Vincent McMorrow as my favourite Irish album but “Post Tropical” was such an impressive long player that it completely converted me from a JVM sceptic to a JVM fan. Not content at settling on the singer songwriter basics that first brought him to prominence McMorrow has incorporated some subtle but effective electronic layering to his sound which elevates “Post Tropical” above many of his peers efforts and makes it a strong contender for the Choice Music Prize Album of the Year – I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t at least make the shortlist.
Favourite International Album
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Probably not the most original choice as I know this album has featured on plenty “best of 2014” lists however when you constantly return to an album time after time and it’s still hasn’t lost it’s appeal then you know you are dealing with something special. And we received a very nice Christmas present with the news that we’ll get to see The War on Drugs live in Ireland when they play Electric Picnic in August.
The Pigtown Fling
The Limerick City of Culture had so many highlights it’s hard to pick out one but The Pigtown Fling project (the brain child of Noel Hogan, John Underwood & Eoin Devereux) gets my vote for it’s impact across the musical community of the city as it brought a diverse collection of singers, musicians and songwriters together resulting in 17 sumptuous original collaborations which were showcased on a wonderful night in the Crescent Hall and can be relived with the resultant Pigtown Fling album.
Most Impressive Irish Live Performance
I’m lucky enough to get to see a lot of live music (still never enough if you ask me) so it’s a tricky task to pick one band that impressed me but I’m going to go with Donegal rockers Mojo GoGo who totally owned the stage when they played Cobblestone Joe’s in Limerick for one of the Indie Week heats. They went on to win the final in Dolan’s with an equally impressive performance and apparently wowed the crowds when they went over to Canada to represent Ireland at the international Indie Week Festival. A band full of energy, great riffs and superb stage chemistry (plus they’re a great group of lads) you will not be disappointed if you catch Mojo GoGo in action.
Arcade Fire/The Pixies/Ham Sandwich
It’s always great to be able to enjoy some live music on your birthday and I was lucky enough to be in Marlay Park last June when these 3 bands laid on a party that any birthday boy would have revelled in. Sorry All Tvvins but I didn’t make it in time to catch your set so my day started with Ham Sandwich who were clearly enjoying realising their dream of supporting of The Pixies who themselves came on and ripped through 23 tracks before rather abruptly leaving the stage but it sated every Pixies fan in the place. Then it was the turn of the headliners who turned the suburbs of Dublin into a mini Rio de Janeiro with a set full of crowd pleasers and rockin’ rousers which had us dancing for 2 hours solid, leaving us with just about enough energy to make our way home after a rousing encore finishing with an epic rendition of “Wake Up” – I was a very happy birthday boy indeed.
John Loftus presents “Sounds from a Green World” on 8radio.com every Saturday morning from 8 to 9 and every Wednesday night from 9 to 10. You can follow him on Twitter @loftysnds and Facebook. Listen back to Lofty’s Fav Irish 45 at http://8radio.com/8radioondemand/