Entertainment

Noise Annoys: Oisin Leech announces debut solo album, Conchúr White goes On The Record, Astralnaut return

A photo of Oisin Leech
Oisin Leech The Co Navan Lost Brothers man has just released a new solo single and announced this debut solo album, Cold Sea. PICTURE: Ellius Grace

Oisin Leech – Colour of The Rain (single, Outside Music / Tremone Records)

LOST Brothers man Oisin Leech is back with another solo tune, Colour of The Rain, the follow up to last year’s excellent October Sun single.

While the latter was billed very much as a tentative toe in the solo waters for the Co Navan musician, his second single arrives in a more confident manner alongside the news that both tracks will feature on a full solo album, Cold Sea, to be released on March 8.

The cover artwork for Oisin Leech's debut solo album Cold Sea, a painting of a clifftop scene by Donegal artist Sinéad Smyth
Oisin Leech - Cold Sea Cold Sea will be released on March 8 and features cover artwork by Donegal artist Sinéad Smyth

A gently strummed meditation on life’s ups, downs and constantly changing scenery, the new tune has an appealingly intimate sound which will have listeners leaning in for another soothing exhibition of Oisin’s croonsome, soul-salving songcraft.

Both singles and indeed the rest of the forthcoming record were made up in Malin, Co Donegal. The musician and his producer Steve Gunn transformed an old sea-facing schoolhouse into a studio with the aid of a suitcase full of recording gear and some talented chums: Cold Sea features contributions from a diverse selection of musical guests, including Dónal ‘Planxty’ Lunny, Tony ‘Bob Dylan’ Garnier, M Ward and fiddler Róisín McGrory.

“My aim with this album was to write a collection of songs that told a complete story, and to record them near the ocean, using the sea as a kind of mirror for the songs,” Oisin explains.

“I spent weeks writing Colour of The Rain, with each verse addressing a stage in my life. It touches on forgiveness. Looking at the past and moving on.”

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“Reflecting landscape in song is integral to so much musical tradition, and I always try to keep this in mind when working on my own music,” adds Steve Gunn, who also plays synths on the album.

“I think this new record reflects both the landscape and the time we had beside the ocean beautifully. To be there with Oisin as he crafted his great songs in an old schoolhouse turned studio, was just wonderful and a significant experience for me.”

Oisin Leech and producer Steve Gunn at Schoolhouse Studio
Oisin Leech and producer Steve Gunn at Schoolhouse Studio Oisin Leech and producer Steve Gunn at Schoolhouse Studio

Tony Garnier, Bob Dylan’s go-to bass-slinging sideman and previous Lost Brothers collaborator, is also singing the album’s praises: “It’s always such a great experience recording with Oisin,” he says.

“He’s a wonderful artist and a good friend. His extensive knowledge of music is a valuable learning to me. I hope more people hear his beautiful new songs and see his performances.

“This debut album of his, Cold Sea, is a spectacular record and it was a pleasure to be part of it. These new songs are so great.”

Oisin Leech on the beach. Picture by Cait Fahey
Oisin Leech on the beach. Picture by Cait Fahey (Cait Fahey )

Folk pioneer Dónal Lunny certainly agrees: “Oisin’s new music is mesmeric – and completely immersive. His songs make you feel good about life and that’s what music should do.”

It’s just as well he’s on-board, because Dónal will shortly be helping Oisin play the new songs live.

Following a special St Patrick’s Day afternoon in-store performance at Rough Trade West in London, the Lost Brothers man will play his first ever solo headline shows with a band featuring Gunn, Lunny and Roisín McGrory at The Sugar Club in Dublin on April 4, Galway’s An Taibhdheare Theatre (April 5) and the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny (April 6).

Oisin Leech. Picture by Cait Fahey
Oisin Leech. Picture by Cait Fahey Oisin Leech. Picture by Cait Fahey

Hot on the heels of those special dates comes Oisin’s Maiden Voyage Concert series, which begins at Cleere’s in Kilkenny on April 12 followed by dates in Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Leitrim.

Full tour details and tickets are now available via oisinleech.com/tour – you know what to do.

Once you’re sorted, make a point of checking out the video for Colour of The Rain, shot by Cait Fahey at The Lantern in Co Meath, home of Oisin’s regular music night, Joey Procida’s Folk Club.

You can catch Oisin in session tonight on BBC Radio Ulster’s The Stephen McCauley Show from 7.04pm, when he’ll be performing live and chatting about the debut album.

Listen online at bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001vm76.

On The Record: Conchúr White - Swirling Violets

A photo showing Conchúr White seated in a church pew
Conchúr White The Co Armagh musician released his debut album Swirling Violets last week. PICTURE: Nathan Magee

NEXT up, we have a short ‘n’ sweet Q&A with Co Armagh artist Conchúr White, who released his debut album Swirling Violets last Friday and is currently in the midst of promoting it with a series of instore shows at record shops (see below for details).

It’s a superbly confident and accomplished record which offers an entertainingly eclectic smorgasbord of indiepop.

Highlights include the hushed introspection of its beautiful piano ballad title track (a co-write with Iain ‘Snow Patrol’ Archer), deftly fingerpicked finale Deadwood, Red House Parlour’s catchy, soulful, piano ’n’ beats-powered groove, the moody, jazz flute-tinged synthfunk of recent single Righteous, atmospheric stop/go earworm Before Ten, the lush dreampop stomp of The Holy Death and the dynamic anthemics of heartbreak bop Fawn and the playful, nostalgia-bound 501s.

Here’s what Conchúr has to say about the making of the album.

Congratulations on Swirling Violets, how does it feel to finally have the album out in the world?

It feels good, I’m proud of myself for persevering with it all.

How have the instore shows been going? What’s the set-up when you play live at the moment (solo/band?) and will you be touring more later in the year?

The instores have been enjoyable, I’ve just been playing those solo but the idea is to either go with a duo or trio set up for the headline shows in May and develop the band over time.

Where did you record the album and was it an enjoyable experience?

.

Parts were recorded at home and in Dublin but the majority was done with Danny Morgan Ball and Kris Platt in The Central Church in Belfast. I’m good friends with those guys so it was lovely to work with them on it.

Is there any one song you are particularly pleased with in terms of how it evolved from your initial idea to the finished version?

I think Red House Parlour might be the most different from the demo versions. It was a bit more of a piano based song but evolved in a really nice way.

The title track is a co-write with Iain Archer, what was it like working together?

Yeah it was a great experience. It’s the only co-write on there yet it strangely felt more personal that the rest of the songs. I’ve a lot of admiration for Iain and his approach to songwriting.

501s is the most recent single: was it fun to immortalise your youth in song like that, and is any of the ‘bad behaviour’ mentioned in the lyrics autobiographical?

501s is one of the more pop-leaning tracks on the album. Lyrically, it was inspired by my experiences as a teenager, predominantly across the backdrop of a now defunct cinema, arcade and bowling complex [CentrePoint in Lurgan] which I would frequent most weekends.

There is a strong element of nostalgia embedded in track that alludes to young love, infatuation and general mischief. I think it’s resonated with people, certainly those I grew up with.

And no, I was never badly behaved!

How come last year’s single Atonia didn’t make the cut for the album?

There were a few reasons, while I think it would have slotted in well, I preferred the idea of having an additional new song on there.

How did you come to sign with Bella Union and what have they been like to work with thus far?

We sent a few demos to labels and they felt like the best fit. It’s a been a very positive experience so far and I feel it’s a good home for what I do musically.

You’ve done some really cool support slots over the past couple of years, which was the most memorable?
Conchúr White looking sad
Conchúr White The Co Armagh singer/songwriter is preparing to release his debut album Swirling Violets

Hard to choose one but touring Europe with Villagers and Magnetic Fields were probably my highlights.

Finally, if you could collaborate with any other artist on a song, who would it be - and what would the result sound like?

Ah, I don’t really know, that’s a hard question. Maybe Lana Del Rey!

The poster for Conchúr White's instore show tour
Conchúr White The Co Armagh musician is performing a series of instore shows to mark the release of his debut album Swirling Violets

In addition to his ongoing series of in-store appearances at record shops, Conchúr has announced news of a headline tour in May. Full dates are as follows:

  • 26 Jan - DROGHEDA - Big Moon Records (5.30pm)
  • 27 Jan - BANGOR - Bending Sound Records (12pm) / BELFAST - Starr Records (4pm) / DERRY - Teach Ceoil Macgiobuin (with Andy McGibbon)
  • 05 Feb - NOTTINGHAM - Rough Trade (7.45pm)
  • 06 Feb - BRISTOL - Rough Trade (7.15pm)
  • 7 Feb - BRIGHTON - Bella Union Vinyl Shop (1pm) / LONDON - Rough Trade East (7.30pm)
  • 13-16 March - AUSTIN, TEXAS - SXSW Music Festival
Poster for Conchúr White's May 2024 tour
Conchúr White May tour dates
  • 03 May - CORK - Winthrop Avenue
  • 4 May - DUBLIN - The Workman’s Club
  • 5 May - BELFAST - Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, St Joseph’s Church
  • 7 May - GLASGOW - The Hug & Pint
  • 8 May - MANCHESTER - The Castle Hotel
  • 9 May - BRISTOL - Crofters Rights
  • 10 May - LONDON - St Pancras Old Church

See conchurwhite.com for ticketing details.

Astralnaut – Plebicide (single, self-released)

ONWARDS we march to the rather heavier sounds of recently re-activated Noise Annoys faves Astralnaut, back with a bang (or, more accurately, a down-tuned ‘kerrang’) with their first new music in almost nine years.

However, Plebicide finds the Co Armagh stoner doom metal mongerers sounding like they’ve never been away: the new tune is a stomping, swirling slow-burner with a political axe to grind, which eventually drops a gear and floors the (wah-wah) pedal to unleash a final burst of pure rock energy that’s sure to have you air guitaring/drumming like an idiot.

It’s a fine return and our first taste of their forthcoming self-titled debut album: listen now astralnaut.bandcamp.com, where you’ll also find their previously released series of mini albums, singles and EPs.

Should you like what you hear, consider giving Astralnaut your support at Voodoo in Belfast tonight, where they will be rocking out at the first heat of Metal 2 The Masses, a ‘battle of the bands’ type affair where the winning act gets a slot at this year’s Bloodstock festival.

Doors are at 8pm and you can get tickets in advance via thedistortionproject.net.

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