Tag Archives: iTunes

10 Years After Black Daisy: Happy Anniversary to the “Disturbing New Fashion” EP

It’s not often (never before actually) that I blog about my old band, Black Daisy, though I have mentioned in my bio that I was lead guitarist and backing vocalist for the all female rock band. If you’re a first-time reader on this blog, I parted ways from the band in early 2009. The band was formed by myself and LA Halvey from the ashes of a band we found ourselves in which formed in autumn 2002. That band was named Ali, yes we all hated the name, but we couldn’t think of anything better so we ran with it (it was hoped we would get Bono’s attention! pfffff, as if!). We had high hopes and we actually did a few very cool gigs (Mountjoy Prison Christmas party 2003, MTV’s Breaking Point, a couple of appearances on RTE’s You’re a Star). The band eventually burned out but myself and the singer still had faith and we continued writing, recording, auditioning musicians and gigging. We eventually found the other half of the band circa mid-2007 (Nicki Billings from Wicklow on rhythm guitar and Asta Mileriene from Lithuania on drums) and became the last incarnation of Black Daisy. Well, until I was out of the picture but that’s a different story.

Newspaper clipping from the Ali Mountjoy gig. It was a blast. Apart from me being called Avril Lavigne all night long LOL. Kinda deserved that though.

 

Stuffs from the early Black Daisy days.

So the reason I’m blogging is because on this day 10 years ago, Black Daisy independently released our debut EP “Disturbing New Fashion”. It was available through downloadmusic.ie and a small number of Irish HMV and record shops.

Disturbing New Fashion album artwork

We recorded it in Donabate (Fastlane Studio) with producer Stephen Brett (now CEO of InMusik), who said our drummer Asta, was a “machine” (she actually was though! you’ll never find a drummer who was on the beat like her). We had a lot of fun recording it and it happened very quickly. His studio was really cool, at the time I was interested in production but it was all a massive mystery to me. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what DAW he used (probably Pro Tools) or anything like that but I remember how I felt and that’s always the important thing. We had such great giggles, I remember we all got on really well, Stephen was a lot of fun to work with, we felt at ease, he “got” us, he let us do what we wanted to do and he pushed us to try out new ideas. It was a cosy space to work in, not small but not massive. Perfect for us.

Blink and you’ll miss me! This grainy footage of an acoustic song we were working on at the time is still on YouTube. This was shot in Fastlane and aired on Channel Six.

So before we went to studio and before we even started rehearsals, the songs were all demo-ed by myself. I had just discovered Apple’s Garageband and I put together all the tracks using drum loops, my recordings of guitars, basses and LAs vocals. We had lots of fun recording in my bedroom and at the time, we suddenly felt empowered with cheap recording gear. In fact I wrote “Disturbing New Fashion” by putting together a bunch of Apple drum loops, recording them onto my Boss Loop Station and overdubbing guitars and vox over and over. I wrote most of the lyrics too, inspired by a documentary about festivals- I remember they were talking in particular about Lollapalooza, and the phenomenon of people losing their **** in the pit at the gigs. How disturbed the audience seemed to the onlookers. I thought that was seriously cool, so that’s actually what the song’s about! I still have some of those demos knocking around, not the session files (I suffered a massive hard drive crash in 2010 and lost all my digital memories from Black Daisy- photos, music, videos- all gone to digital heaven), but I still have some of the stereo bounces on mini discs.

Taking selfies before it was cool. Camera on timer and GO! Strike a pose! – random hotel room in Limerick, 2007 (we were playing Dolans that night).

So anyways, our preproduction was really important, we spent a lot of time as a band in our rehearsal space (Monster Music in Blanchardstown was the BEST place ever), going over each and every detail of the songs. We were very mindful of our limited recording time and wanted to maximise whatever time we had by sorting out the nitty gritty in rehearsals. It wasn’t always fun but we learned how to play as a band and we actually gelled really well during that time.

I was always happy with the finished product and I’m still proud of it. However my role with the band at this stage was on borrowed time, as I didn’t forsee the Eurovision fiasco at this point and I had every faith that the band was moving forward in a healthy way. We were playing great gigs on the back of RTE’s You’re a Star series 6, writing new songs and getting on like a house on fire. 6 short months later, it all would change.

We took ourselves awfully seriously- backstage in a random stairwell in the Helix before our last You’re a Star live performance.
Larking around in The Late Late Show’s green room, we were having quite a giggle taking these pictures but we didn’t think they’d end up in the paper! I still like that photo.

I suppose it’s only fitting that 10 years on, I’m in the middle of my music masters. It all seems like a lifetime ago, I suppose it was. I’m ever the sentimentalist. Being in Black Daisy was a huge part of my life infact, it was my way of life. Everything revolved around the band- my jobs, work hours, my clothes, what I spent my money on, getting up and down to Dublin, countless hours on Myspace plugging the band. I even put college on hold in 2002, and never thought I would get there until I had my BCFE interview in 2009.

Part of me still thinks: I shouldn’t have bothered, I should have went straight to college in 2002, I should have spent more time focusing on an actual proper job, what’s to show for all the politics and drama anyway?

But then, I’d have never experienced so many cool things: the epic recording studios, the knowledgeable music producers, the experienced session musicians, gigging all over the country, the road trips, the late night sleepover giggles, the tense photo shoots, the fun video shoots, the nerve-wrecking radio interviews, the exciting TV shows, doing each other’s hair and makeup, swopping outfits, the car breakdowns halfways down the country, the parties, the clubbing in Cork city, going to Galway for the craic because the show was postponed 24 hours and we didn’t want to go home, the saucy jokes, the dodgey rehearsal rooms in Temple Bar, the serious songwriting sessions, the hunt for band members, the excited fans kissing my biker boots at gigs, the people dancing to our music, blowing away skeptical men with crossed arms at gigs, making our home demos and of course, the girls. I’ve probably forgotten half of the shenanigans. Feck, I’ve actually played the Ambassador in Dublin! So yeah, it was a good thing. It was a life experience and I wouldn’t understand band politics and musician’s emotions as well as I do now, only for it. Maybe it’ll stand to me when I produce a new band in the future or when I engineer my next gig or when I become a teacher.

There’s still one or two CDs knocking around on Discogs and eBay if you’re at all interested. I still think it sounds effing awesome and believe we were something unique. I also think we were a band at the wrong time of the industry, when everything was up in chaos and no-one dared (or cared) to invest in talent. The EP is no longer available on iTunes but the “Disturbing New Fashion” video (directed by Zoe Kavanagh) is still on YouTube if you want a quick peak.

“Disturbing New Fashion” CD package. That font still offends me though.

 

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My Names A, Your Names Zed… New Music from El Grey

For the creators and for the fans, active listeners or passive listeners, music has the power to move us all incredibly deeply. Sometimes we’re right here- in the moment and sometimes we’re floating in a sea of sounds- we blissfully lose ourselves for a tiny while.

And sometimes we’re both- Here and There.

The latest release My Names A, Your Names Zed from El Grey is exactly that.

el grey my names a your names zed
My Names A, Your Names Zed

If you’re already a fan of El Grey you’ll come to expect haunting, stunning and breathtaking vocal performances as standard. You’ll also expect crunchy beats mixed with a wash of synths and gentle acoustic guitars. You’ll also be aware that her music is deeply personal to her and each song is a little piece of her soul, committed to record.

Take all that you already know about El Grey and put a little twist on it. You won’t find this track anything like her previous release El Grey, but you will find her distinctive, trademark vocals affirming her ardent passion right here. Glistening synthy motifs bounce over and back a sound world of luscious piano playing and looped, reverberant vocals. Instantly you’re taken by the hand of El Grey herself into the infinite cosmos. If you haven’t gotten goosebumps multiple times within the first 60 seconds then you’re not ready for the journey she wishes to bring you on.

Hypnotic yet deeply grounding, her chanting vocal pulls you right into the centre. Looped over and over with additional harmonies, her voice guides the way- “Grab a coat, find a home”. While the chant gives way to a choir of swirly, angelic vocal expressions, we’re lifted further into the heavens, soaring high, looking for Home.

The mood changes somewhat after this point. You’ll hear a male voice enter- another new sound for El Grey. You’ll know that there’s something very special going on here- something very deep and very personal. In absolute contrast to what we’ve been listening to, she sings in her native tongue- and it works brilliantly. Switching languages in one song is a new and brave move for El Grey for she has something personal to say-revealing another dimension of herself and affirming her spirituality though her music.

El Grey

For me the most poignant lyric comes in around the 7-minute mark- “It’s just one heartbeat away from you” with echoes of “one” bouncing around, underpinning it. The music producer in me loves that line. The sentiment in me loves it too. It’s a line I’d hang on to for dear life.

This recording is 100% live and one take only. There was no pre-production. There was no doctoring this up in post-production either. The barest moments of extraneous sounds pop in and out here and there but these are not faults. Such sounds tickle my imagination and for me, they add to the soundscape. The piece in its entirety has a completely natural feel and I’m certain the musicians lost themselves in this performances-lost themselves to find a little something on the way back.

You could use a multitude of words to describe this track (atmospheric, holy, meditative, serene, gripping, stunning, special…) and you could find a multitude of situations to enjoy it in – at home with a candle, on a long, night-drive home, walking around a busy city- for it’s completely immersive and completely El Grey.

Enjoy the music here: My Names a, Your Names Zed – EP by El Grey on iTunes

El Grey: My Names A, Your Names Zed – Music on Google Play

el-F# | El Grey

elf logo7

El Grey perform tonight at the Hot Spot Music Club, Greystones in support for Oxfam Ireland alongside bands Calm State, Woodlark and Retrofix. More info: El Grey, Calm State, Woodlark, RetroFix play for Oxfam

 

 

Fighting the Loudness War: Dynamic Range Day 2013

Dynamic Range Day 2013 is nearly upon us! On Friday March 22nd audiophiles around the world will turn their sound systems up to 11 to raise awareness that overly-compressed music does not sound better than dynamic music just because it’s louder.

Louder? Isn’t louder music better? Ah well now, we all enjoy loud music… but the point is: make the music louder by turning up the volume on the car stereo (or whatever music reproduction medium you enjoy listening to- mind your ears though peeps, for God’s sake!) and not through heavy mastering compression, etc!

According to dynamicrangeday.co.uk, music has been getting more and more crushed through the use of heavy compression in recent years, for fear of not being “competitive” – and in the process removing all the contrast, all the light, shade and depth – ruining the sound.

Dynamic Range Day supporters want to trade the “louder is better” concept for an alternative message: “Dynamic music sounds better”.

http://www.dynamicrangeday.co.uk/
http://www.dynamicrangeday.co.uk/

There are some very interesting articles on the official Dynamic Range Day website including, What is the Loudness War ? and links to other interesting stuff: Winning the Loudness Wars | Stereophile.com.

A cool competition one may like to enter (if you’re not in you can’t win, right?!) can be found at Dynamic Range Day Competition 2013. Cool gear such as an SSL Bus Compressor (in a SuperAnalogue Mynx mini X-rack) and Bowers & Wilkins CM-1 speakers are such prizes. It’s well worth entering!

What can we do in the meantime? Read and share this: The Loudness War – An open letter to the music industry… Use the free dynamic range meter plug-in on your master track when mixing (download it here: tt_dynamic_range_meter_mac_1_0.dmg.)… get involved, support Dynamic Range Day on Facebook, Twitter etc. Wear a t-shirt!

http://masteringmedia.spreadshirt.co.uk/
http://masteringmedia.spreadshirt.co.uk/
http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/
http://www.dynamicrangeday.co.uk/

“Every playback device in the world has an output gain control on it. Record and master the music at musical levels and allow the listener to play it as they wish. Do not fall slave to making all music sound equally loud on iPod Shuffles or the iTunes program itself !” – Bob Ludwig. (http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/supporters/)

Amazing Music of 2011 :)

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, the fire is blazing in the sitting room, hot water bottles are officially okay to bring to bed again, massive, furry, pom-pom snow-boots are acceptable to wear and everyone is full of holiday and Christmas spirit now that the college assignments are done and dusted! So what better time than now to review some of the wonderful music 2011 has brought to my ears?!

Fallon Bowman 2011

 Fallon Bowman (Canada’s finest export) who is a very gifted young lady (musically brilliant, independent, charming, down-to-earth, smart, hard-working, all this AND blessed with good looks!), released her third album Human, Conditional earlier this Spring under her own name, (her previous albums were released under the artist name Amphibious Assault, I’ve been a fan of Fallon’s since 1999 and have been watching her progress through the years). And she delivered yet again. Human, Conditional not only showcases her new voice, stronger, bigger, braver than ever, it reveals a mature songwriter, eager and unafraid to blend rock, pop, soul and electronic genres, to create her own unique sound. I’m not sure if I can do justice to describe just how wonderful her new sound is! A true voice singing anthems of deep human emotion in a gorgeous spread of guitars, synths, drums and basses! Fallon is real, Fallon is here, now!

Personal favourites include “Disappearance” (guitar heavy throughout with a haunting, minor vocal verse, trust me, her voice is astoundingly beautiful here), “Tales From The Fourth Floor” (hearing this progress from the demo Fallon posted online last year to a huge anthem, bound to fill the dance floor live, with strong lyrics, soaring vocal and hooky synths) and “The Empty Space”. Fallon also treats us to new versions of her fine Depeche Mode cover “In Your Room” and her original “Mistakes, Breaks, Way Too Lates” (aptly renamed “Mistakes: Retake”).

I dearly love her Amphibious Assault sound for it’s pure, raw, grittiness (the songs are savage!) but Human, Conditional with it’s fine production is a new work of art. Please listen to Fallon, please support her!

Porcelain Black 2011 (Copyright Miguel Starcevich)

Another kick-ass lady who’s certainly going places as well is Porcelain Black (Alaina Beaton). I only heard of Porcelain a few months ago but she has been around the block already as well, getting serious attention on MySpace and live with her previous industrial rock band Porcelain and the Tramps, singing with Courtney Love as well as Lil Wayne, modeling and working the celebrity scene. She was signed to a major label who wanted her to go the Avril Lavigne road but is now signed to 2101 Records (via Universal Republic Records) thanks to her collaboration with label head and producer RedOne.

Porcelain’s new sound is also fantastic! Her growly, edgy vocal combined with RedOne’s signature hooky synths along with pounding drums and heavy guitars, maintaining industrial rock roots, makes a perfectly danceable, kick-ass, in-your-face, lets-go-run-some-red-lights wall of sound!!!

Porcelain has just released her definitely addictive, debut single “Naughty Naughty” on iTunes last week, her album is due early next year. Mentioned online as the next Lady Gaga, Porcelain is the original Lady Gaga (as Gaga herself often acknowledges Porcelain online), but in my opinion, there’s no comparing the two, they have dramatically different sounds and both are equally quirky! Porcelain oozes rock attitude and will be be a hit in 2012, mark my words!

iTunes – Music – Naughty Naughty – Single by Porcelain Black.

The Minutes 2011 (Copyright Cormac Figgis)

Back to these shores, Dublin based trio The Minutes made excellent wavelengths with their debut album Marcata, released in May. I already dedicated an entire post to how awesome The Minutes are after seeing them kick serious ass in Harrisons, Blackrock, Dundalk this autumn. Marcata is a rock n roll gold, straight up, proper rock, blues flavour guitar riffage, earth-shaking drumming, screaming vocals and steady bass playing. Fine musicianship and they sound like a band!!!! I haven’t stopped playing the album in my car (top volume of course), all autumn/winter. Go see them live when they return to Ireland (the lads are currently on a monster tour of Europe). Personally “Black Keys” and “Black and Blue” stand a mile out and are wicked live! I’m very excited to see an Irish band doing so well and I can’t wait to see what they bring to 2012!!!

iTunes – Music – Marcata by The Minutes.

On the subject of Irish artists, legendary guitarist of Irish punk-rockers, The

Pete Holidai 2011

Radiators From Space, Pete Holidai released his debut solo album The Devil’s Guitar, this summer also! Pete treats us to twangy, surf (dare I say sexy?!) guitars (they bring Twin Peaks soundtrack to mind) fused with beautifully crafted 60’s/70’s pop melodies, clever arrangements, deep lyrics and musical sophistication. Pete pays tribute to his musical influences such as David Bowie, Matt Monro and Les Baxter and delivers a fine piece of musical art. Pete composed, wrote, recorded (with vintage gear and modern technology!), produced and released The Devil’s Guitar by himself!

Personal favourites include “Famesville” (that baritone guitar sound give me goosebumps every time!), “The Girl In The Car” (makes me feel like it’s summertime and want to travel somewhere!) and “Lunar Girl” (I like the idea of dancing with a handsome stranger to “Music From the Moon”!)

The Devil’s Guitar is much more than musical inspiration, Pete invites his listeners to follow the story of Johnny, a man tortured by the death of his true love, who travels to Berlin to make sense of the voices in his head and follow his heart-breaking, twisted, emotional journey. A damn fine listen, get your hands on this C.D at once!

The Devil’s Guitar | Pete Holidai.

The above is just a few of the great artists I’ve been listening to this year, but they are the ones that have rocked my car, iMac, iPod and kitchen radio the most! Other Irish artists I highly enjoy and urge you to go check out are:

Black Svan: BLACK SVAN | Free Music, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos. (“Sickness” is SICKENINGLY AWESOME!!!)

Return To Sender: Return To Sender (RTS).

Klara Mc Donnell: http://www.youtube.com/user/KlaraMcDonnell

Lauren Murphy: Lauren Murphy – I Hope You Know by stephaniecaffrey on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free.

Alice Can’t Turn Left: Alice Can’t Turn Left by Alice Can’t Turn Left on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free.

2BiT: 2BiT | Free Music, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos. (“Musical Vibration”)

Martin Traynor: Trend-E(martin traynor)’s sounds on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free.

Storyfold: Official Storyfold Website.

Autumn Long: Breaking Tunes – AUTUMN LONG.

Happy Christmas and happy New Year 2012 to you all! Thanks for your support! Of course, don’t forget to have a listen to my own original music Stephanie Caffrey – Original Solo Projects by stephaniecaffrey on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free. and Shock Sorrow Shock Sorrow | Drogheda, IE | Alternative / Acoustic / Blues/Rock | Music, Lyrics, Songs, and Videos | ReverbNation. Sláinte!