Featuring X


Music Alliance Pact: February 2015

music alliance pact

It’s rare that I feature a band that could be considered even vaguely ‘pop’ for Ireland on Music Alliance Pact. I think it’s in part because our musical heritage and reputation internationally absolutely screams pop and trad – in dramatic contrast to what’s actually going on here at the moment – and it’s nice to showcase something else. Featuring X do have a hint of pop, but they certainly don’t fall into the ol’ Irish cliche, with their rock-edged, entirely female five-piece instead turning out some glistening pop-rock crammed with gorgeous musicianship. They’re young enough to have us critics wondering what we’ve done with our lives, and skilled enough for it to seem more logical that they’d ‘make it’ than not. 

When a band like that still has the musical knowledge to poke fun at a Robert Plant song released in the mid-80s (in the video for Wild Love), you know you’re onto a winner…

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 19-track compilation through Dropbox here.

IRELAND: Hendicott Writing
Featuring XWild Love
A pop-rock teenage quintet from the back-roads town of Drogheda on Ireland’s east coast, Featuring X are fast gaining traction for their buoyant, lively sound and skilful axe-womanship. Wild Love is their distinctive cover of Rea Garvey’s classic, loaded with harmonies and feisty riffs. As well as new recordings, we’ve been promised something else, ‘something special’ in 2015.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Enero Sera MioHasta Encontrarte
“January will be mine” is the translation of singer-songwriter Sol Fernandez’s artistic project. Her music is a perfect match of soft melodies and dream-pop with carefully crafted arrangements and sound landscapes. This track is from Enero3, her latest work, which is being released through Bandcamp.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Nite FieldsPrescription
Prescription is the second single from Brisbane four-piece Nite Fields’ long-awaited debut record Depersonalisation. While the intricate guitar work and broody vocals echo The Church, there’s a humid, curiously distant tone here that is something totally their own. Starting with sparse prickly guitars and splashy drumming, the song folds in on itself towards the end, becoming slightly claustrophobic but in an intimate, whispery way. Nite Fields keeps you at arm’s length – you have to squint through the haze of effects and layers to get a hold of anything solid, but once you do, you’ve already fallen hard for this moody and mysterious band.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
WillowsThe Shape I’m In
Johnny McArthur and Eric Moore make up the electronic duo Willows. They venture into uncomfortable territory melodically. The swirling repetitive underlying of The Shape I’m In resembles the dizzying sensation of intoxication. The bursts of energy are like the highs that come back to the inevitable lows.

CHILE: Super 45
Sin ÓrbitaAtardecer
Sin Órbita is a duo formed by Paula Roa and Martin Perez Roa, who last year released their first record, Neón EP (Sudamerican Records). Flirting with electronica and soul, the band are a mixture of Massive Attack trip hop cadence and AlunaGeorge sensuality.

State of the Nation: Katie Hogan (NuMu)


I can’t remember how I first came across Katie and NuMu. It may well have been simply through an MCD press email back in the days when she was learning her trade at Ireland’s biggest gig promoter, but I do know that her brand has seeped into my consciousness, and that can only be the sign of a good brand. While I haven’t always been into everything Katie’s promoted (but who could ever say they’ve been into everything anyone works on!), I’ve always felt like giving it a chance, because she always speaks positively and with such passion. In fact, it’s fairly typical of my experience of Katie that when I asked her to do ‘State of the Nation’ she answered my small selection of questions in such astonishing and fascinating details. Katie’s a manager and PR aficionado who gets stuck in to recording and mastering, and runs projects that are a far cry from music at all. This is easily the most in-depth of the series to date, and might take you twenty minutes to get through in full. If you’re into PR, start-ups or sheer passion for the Irish music industry, though, I’d highly recommend sticking with her!

NuMu is a brave move, particularly in an industry that’s notorious for having a difficult time financially over the last few years. How did it come about, and what’s got you to where you are now?

In 2010 I was living and studying, to obtain my journalism degree, in London. Like many in the industry I had friends in bands and watching their struggle, unaware of the music industry in full, I had decided to help as much as I could by introducing and then promoting these artists in London, again completely naive to the industry and even public relations! I had approached it all from a journalistic point of view. I was winging it, genuinely had no clue even writing my first music review at 20 (bearing in mind I had been writing for a number of years) basically music was something I enjoyed, not something I was involved with, and thanks to my lack of knowledge I fell into the deep end (didn’t voluntarily dive in). From here I became involved with the industry from online music sites and promoters to managers and labels, I had found something I adored – my new passion!

When I touched back on Irish soil, thanks to the growing recession there was a lack of opportunities available to me as a graduate, so this had originally inspired me to get thinking of how I can create a role for myself to keep me sane. NuMu and the idea behind it had not come along until I bagged an internship at MCD, which opened a whole new door for me. I adored working behind the scenes and my nose for journalism soon grew to become a nose for promotional opportunities.

There was also moments I would think “if only someone would start a new venture that could…” and swiftly ended my train of thought with “wait, why ‘someone’…when I can do it” It was from here that I wanted to create a brand to host certain events and work with musicians and overall talent so thought to use my own abbreviation for New Music which is “NuMu”.

There is a man by the name of Damien O’Donohue who worked at MCD, I remember he had called me to his office to discuss my internship and pointed out a number of skills I had that I wasn’t aware of. He told me to look into artist management as he felt I would do well in this field. I am sure O’Donohue has no idea of how much that chat inspired me – it was somewhat of a lightning bolt moment. Under NuMu, I started to organise events and gigs looking for the right “artist”. The ball started rolling and now I am proud to have two extremely hardworking and thriving bands under NuMu – Featuring X and Travis Oaks – who have helped our brand reach a wider audience.