niallon – National Anthem

Yes I forgot to do a write up on ‘Zombie’ (and ‘The Funeral’ come to think of it) and yes we’re back to solo videos this week. I can be consistent in my inconsistency though, haven’t you heard?

This song just straight up breaks my heart if I’m being honest. There are a couple of thousand things I reckon Brian Fallon wrote this song in relation to, and there are a thousand more things personally to me that I can relate it to and in essence, that’s a large part of why I love songwriting. A part of you wants every listener to get what you meant when you wrote it, another part of you enjoys the different interpretations rolling in, especially if they are well wide of the mark to where your head was when you wrote it. I listen to ‘National Anthem’ and I am regularly struck dumb by the lines “I remember when she looked so good in that dress / Now she just screams that I promised her more than this / Take it easy baby, it ain’t over yet” and to me they are some of the finest words ever committed to paper in relation to the trials and tribulations of love and marriage. They’re also the only explicit reference in the song to those topics. Technically speaking, the song is more focused on the modern day tech obsession and maybe a little loss that Fallon feels is deriving from that (“Everybody lately is living up in space / Flying through transmissions on invisible airwaves”). To me though, those aforementioned lines are just so powerful that they dominate the entire song. Whereas they are mostly an aside in reality, to me the rest of the song is the aside. But that’s music, and that’s lyrics, that’s art. That’s also enough from me, and I swear the I’m Talkin’ Here slacking off is over!

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niallon – Monster Mash Up

Way back in June 2007 I uploaded a cover of my favourite song to YouTube, Tom Waits’ heartbreaker ‘Martha’. It was a long-ass time ago but I’m pretty sure I primarily did it cause I could. Sure, I’m a singer, a guitarist and a songwriter – I’m never gonna refuse an opportunity to get my music and covers heard – but YouTube didn’t remotely resemble then what it has become now. The concept of becoming a “Youtuber” didn’t really exist back then, it was still that magic site where if you were looking for a video it was there, and you’d watch it on your desktop too might I add with smartphones only just breaking onto the scene back then.

I had been in a band from 2004 to 2006 and we gained the type of success that most teenagers would be happy out with. Then the band broke up. Since then myself and Peter, who was the drummer in said band, have made several attempts to recruit members and get a band up and running. All attempts failed to varying degrees but the one constant was the YouTube page, primarily because it allowed us to spread our limited resources better. What started out with an old Hi8 Sony camcorder and no proper audio recording, evolved into better recordings of live performances filmed in HD via smartphones, then bringing us up to now where we’ve bumped up again to proper video and even more advanced levels of production in the audio. We still live and breathe for live shows (and that’ll be coming down the line very soon!) but the new level of investment in the YouTube page we have stepped up to has led to a lot of fun and rewarding work.

This week’s video is unquestionably the culmination of the evolution the channel has undergone. It’s definitely the highest level of production we’ve ever done on both audio and video, coupled with the fact that we have a new member onboard too (everyone say “Hi Vicki!”). In hindsight, giving ourselves roughly 10 days to get the whole thing done from conception to publishing was probably not the greatest idea we ever had, but on the other hand I think we managed to produce a damn good video in such limited time. Scratch that, even without taking the timeframe into account I’m damn happy with it. I’ve said before that we don’t really know what the YouTube project is or what long term plans there may be for it, but for now it’s the best way we can make music and get it out there to an audience, and as long as we enjoy it then long may it continue. I hope you enjoy the vid and though we might need to go back to some more basic stuff for a few weeks, rest assured we’ll be going down a route similar to this again before the year is out!

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niallon – Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

I was first introduced to this song via Rod Stewart’s cover. Suffice to say I was surprised to find out that it was originally written and recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Up until that point I solely knew them for Bad Moon Rising which in turn I solely knew as the song from An American Werewolf In London. I can confirm I’ve now educated myself far more thoroughly with CCR’s back catalogue though and this song has remained one of my favourites of theirs.

We have covered a few tracks in the past where the intent has been to shine a spotlight on some songs that get dismissed as run of the mill, when in fact there’s a very sincere and well thought out piece buried within layers of production. This one somewhat falls into that category, though I’d hardly argue that the sincerity is absent in the original. Frontman John Fogerty maintains that the song was written in relation to rising tensions within the band and specifically the impending departure of his brother Tom from the group, despite the theorising that it related to the Vietnam war amongst other things. Nobody can argue that there is a genuine level of emotion and strife to be heard in the original but for me there’s an alternate spin available by bringing it down a bit more in pace, tearing the song open and letting it be even more raw. And that’s how we ended up here! As always, watch, like, share, subscribe!

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niallon – 30 Times Around The Sun

Nine years ago I was tasked with writing a song about the gruelling task that is turning 21. I joke, but we did actually think it was going to be all change back then. Turns out we were jumping the gun a little, as most 21 year olds do, but I still stand by the song and it’s relevance to how you feel at the time. Said friends about whom the song was written/inspired by recently turned 30 and we joked about writing 30 Times Around The Sun. I didn’t see it working to be honest and writing a sequel to a song isn’t something I’d ever successfully done (though there are plenty of “spiritual successor” songs in our repertoire).

Initially I had set out to write this in a slight tongue in cheek manner but once I got to work, and decided it would be a rewrite of the original, I started holding the two up against each other. That led to my realisation that we were seriously delusional at 21! The number has changed, but what happened with 30 Times… is that the sentiment was now actually true. What we all thought we were going to be getting started at 21, turns out was gonna take another 9 years. It was weird writing it, realising things clear as day only when putting them down in lyrics. Or it’s just another song about having the craic and getting hammered with your mates, whatever suits! As always, watch, like, share, subscribe!

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niallon – Not In Love

Another request, another song totally new to us. Even though I’ve seen Crystal Castles live and would consider myself somewhat of a fan of The Cure, this song had never managed to cross my radar! Once again though the magic of the requests pays off and we now have another track in our repertoire I could easily see getting played again down the line. Approaching the arrangement on this one was interesting, somewhat similar to Far Away in many ways. On the one hand there was a straightforward acoustic “hash it out” type approach on offer but as we dug a bit deeper we found something more substantial. We actually didn’t discover until well after the fact that this was a cover itself, originally released by Platinum Blonde and listening to the original we probably fall more in line with that but that’s to be expected I guess, once we decided to strip away the more electronic elements from it.

In the past we’ve covered the likes of David Guetta and Fragma with the aim being to put a new spin on songs whilst hopefully opening up the access to a broader range of genres. Crystal Castles would definitely be of a niche variety which unfortunately means many would easily overlook this track, and diving further still I doubt I’d have ever heard any Platinum Blonde without discovering they were the originators of this track. Sometimes people can be very quick to label music of a certain type as “not my thing” or the wrong genre and when I say people I most definitely include myself in there because I’m a nightmare for this at times. Sometimes though it’s worth taking songs as just that, songs. Peel away the genres for a moment and just take the song as it comes. I can guarantee that in a worst case scenario you’ll find yourself with a new outlook on a song you had maybe long since wrote off. With that rant from the highest hill over and done with, watch, like, share, subscribe!

niallon – Dancing In The Dark

I’ve well and truly run out of ways to describe my obsession with the music of Bruce Springsteen by now. For me, he and the E Street Band are the music. The music that popped up in my life at a time that I needed something to, that I needed something to point me in a direction. It’s my get hyped music, my comedown music, my inspirational music and of course the “Jesus will this hangover ever go away music”. I do feel a slightly stronger connection to it too, namely the New Jersey factor. My uncle Michael emigrated to the States many years ago as so many did and so many still do. He settled in New Jersey, married and started a family. He worked his hands to the bone, made a great life for himself and I think if I tried for the rest of my life, I’d never find someone with a bad word to say about him. Every time I have been to the US has been to New Jersey. I’ve seen other places on those trips, but it has always been New Jersey with Michael, my aunt and cousin and more that was the base station. We’ve had some amazing trips there, the most memorable of which for me was when Michael took me down to Asbury Park. It was my Graceland, seeing where it all started. Standing outside The Stone Pony where The Boss got started out many years before. Walking the shore, taking in the sights so vividly described in “Sandy” and other tracks. Memories like that mean that Springsteen’s music runs much deeper than the surface layer for me, incorporating history and family and blood.

Michael passed away just over two years ago. In my life I’ve always had a steady nine to five and been a musician on the side. 2015 brought about a lot of change. I quit my job, started a new one that I far more enjoyed, and most importantly I rediscovered music. We started, myself and Peter, in earnest to make something of this YouTube project. What the ultimate goal is, we aren’t all that sure. What we do know is that we love doing what we do.

He wasn’t a hard core Springsteen fan, nor had we ever much discussed music at all to be honest, but I can’t help but connect Springsteen back to New Jersey, back to Michael, which leads to interpretations like this one. On the one hand, I do sometimes feel a little bad taking these upbeat poppy tracks like “Read My Mind”, “Toca’s Miracle” and “Mr Brightside” and completely flipping them on their head, turning them into melancholic trods through deep thought and lyrical meaning. On the other hand, to me there are always real songs hiding behind the synth and pop. “Dancing In The Dark” to me is a perfect pop song with an insanely catchy hook, but it’s also a song that encapsulates loneliness, isolation and pure desperation. Sometimes, in Ireland in particular, we don’t like to admit when things are shit. We’d sooner ‘keep calm and carry on’ rather than tell someone we’re having a tough time. The origins of this track lie in Springsteen being pressured to write a hit. I feel it reaches beyond that specific territory though. To me, this song speaks for all of us being asked to work outside of our comfort zone, being asked to be someone we’re not and most importantly, being asked to betray ourselves. If we’ve managed to convey even a tenth of that in this version, I’ll be happy. As always watch, like, share, subscribe.

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niallon – Coconut Skins

By the end of this requests experiment I feel that our taste in music will be massively diversified. I mean, that was half the point of the exercise to begin with but as it has turned out, the songs requested have come fairly out of left field. I personally wouldn’t know Damien Rice outside of his biggest release, Cannonball, and I have in fact covered that track in the past. Being honest though I wasn’t keen on seeing one of tracks come through as a request as I expected it to be more in line with his low key material, and we’ve plenty of that posted already! What a relief to find this track then and damn it’s fun to play and sing! Couldn’t even begin to give you an interpretation of it but hey, we don’t always need that. Don’t forget, if you want to hear any particular song sound off here in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Watch, like, share, subscribe!

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