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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niallon – Game Of Thrones

What can I say about this piece of music? Back when Game Of Thrones started I actually wasn’t a fan (yeah I know, some people right?). I dunno, it didn’t grab my attention for some reason. One thing I did love about the show though was the music, and eventually, 3 years later, I binged Seasons 1-3 and have been hooked ever since. It has also joined the ranks of House Of Cards and Westworld as the only show where even the opening titles get my full undivided attention and are never skipped. Ramin Djawadi is extremely hot property these last few years, contributing iconic music to this show, the aforementioned Westworld, Person Of Interest and he even branched out into the video game arena with Gears Of War 4, a series already noted for the high end work of Steve Jablonsky.

When it comes to covering Djawadi’s music then, there are restraints. We obviously don’t have a full orchestra to work with (how sweet that would be though) and there are an abundance of covers online of this piece already. What we settled on blends the style and sound of what we have uploaded to date with a higher level of production than we have strived for ever before. It was tough, there were reshoots, tweaks and alterations, but we’re damn satisfied with the finished product, hope you are too!

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niallon – Beeswing

It’s buy one get one free season with niallon! This one was very spur of the moment as we were working through our requests list. I first came across this track via Christy Moore’s cover on his 2004 album Burning Times. As he so often does, Christy went and took a great song that he injected his own unique brand of soul into. As I always do though, I went and sought out the original and it too is just an incredible piece of music and songwriting in it’s own entirely different way. I didn’t know Richard Thompson from Adam beforehand and haven’t listened to too much of his stuff since, but the standout elements from both tracks are what I have tried to incorporate into this version. Be it the mournful weary tone that comes through via Christy or the simply beautiful guitar work on Thompson’s original, what we’ve produced here sits somewhere between the two. One of my all time favourite songs, one that I hope we have done some measure of justice to. Once again we have to commend Vicki for her awesome skills with the camera adding that extra bit of life to the video for us too. As always watch, like, share, subscribe!

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niallon – Castaway

Taking a break from covers and requests for this week, we decided to dust off another of the originals. Castaway was one of the easiest songs to write out of any of my efforts…lyrically that is. The bulk of it all arrived in one go while I was sat idly by waiting to meet up with some friends, in those glorious days before we had so much to easily distract and whipping out a notepad was an acceptable way to pass the time. Originally, it was a very lively bouncy number and I was quite happy with it. As time went on though I felt it didn’t really fit the lyrical content, at least how I intended it. To me the song was about the desire to go and do the things in the song, rather than someone actually in the process of doing them. The endless debate about writer’s intention versus listener’s interpretation is one I frequently find myself in – do we seek the writer’s interpretation of the song or our own? Everyone is different, I usually can’t decide myself, but I wrote this with a specific intention while at the same time I love hearing different interpretations.

Whatever your interpretation might be I hope you enjoy it, and as always, watch, like, share, subscribe!

niallon – Far Away

A little bit of me is somewhat shocked we’ve actually got this one done. Opening the floor for requests is something we were quite excited about and then we got a great response with loads of great songs. Then we decided to start with an elaborate arrangement on a multitrack recording. Basically we went right outside of the comfort zone we’ve established on our YouTube page! Suffice to say we’re quite happy with the outcome though and believe we’ve done a good job of suitably niallon-ing this song. Far Away  has a special place for many due to its inclusion on the Red Dead Redemption in-game soundtrack, playing over a somewhat epic moment in the 2010 smash hit. As with so many songs that gain their notoriety from soundtracks, sometimes it’s easy to ignore them being good in their own right. I’ll be honest, I’d actually forgotten it was from the Red Dead soundtrack when I first saw the request come in and the process of learning, arranging and recording the song has left me a bigger fan then when we first began. José González’s original arrangement is more than a little haunting and in our take on it we tried to retain that, whilst branching out in very different directions musically at times. We hope you enjoy and as always, watch, like, share, subscribe!

niallon – Use Somebody

When Kings Of Leon released they’re massively successful album “Only By The Night” a strange thing seemed to happen. All of a sudden they had a legion of new fans after years as indie darlings and I can proudly say I was one of those fans. At least I was a fan of the album anyway. Many say they “sold out” (whatever that term really means) and what resulted was incredibly accessible tracks like Sex On Fire, Revelry and of course Use Somebody.

The first time he heard it my father described Use Somebody as a ‘real rock song’ and I don’t think I’d even attempt to find a better description. It may be a bit generic, a bit straightforward, but it incredibly efficiently succeeds in conveying a central point while never sacrificing intellect at the same time. There was a more straightforward way to write this song, a way to make this a song more appropriate for a plain Jane pop act but it carries enough smarts to rise above that. As always, watch, like, share, subscribe!