March 20, 2016

The Gloaming release 2, top Irish charts, tour USA

"In a conundrum to cause maths teachers everywhere to break out in hives, 2 has proven bigger than 25, as The Gloaming knock Adele off the top of the Irish charts," wrote Hot Press Magazine last week. Yep that's right The Gloaming's sophomore album has topped the Irish album record sales charts, beating out more familiar pop contenders like Justin Bieber, The 1975 and, yes, even Adele. We were as gobsmacked as anybody when we saw this report. A lot of crazy things have happened to Brassland artists over the years: opening slots on R.E.M. tours, hang sessions with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, even Oscar nominations. But we're not sure any of our artists have ever had a number one record on a national album chart. Obvs this called for an Instagram post:

(Yes, the website which displays the Irish charts isn't formatted very nicely. Hope it doesn't dull the impact for you.)

Point being, you should be very grateful the band are touring the southeastern United States this March, in support of their sophomore album. (Once again, the record is self-titled but everyone is referring to it as 2 and we'll do so here because otherwise things get really confusing.) The band are capping off their latest North American run with an appearance at the artfully-curated Big Ears Festival. A coda for the tour happens in June, with an appearance at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center.

- Mar 24: Savannah Music Festival — Savannah, GA
- Mar 26: Duke University — Durham, NC
- Mar 29: Texas A&M — College Station, TX
- Mar 31: Big Ears Festival 2016 — Knoxville, TN
- Jun 04: The Kennedy Center — Washington, DC

Oh yeah, about that new album. The post-literate among you can just watch this here video, featuring the (very literate) members of the group Martin Hayes (violin, fiddle), Thomas Bartlett aka Doveman (piano), Iarla O'Lionaird (vocals), Dennis Cahill (guitar) and Caoimhin O'Raghallaigh (hardanger fiddle).

Now for those of you who prefer words. You'll be happy to hear the new record is not a break with the past, bur rather a continuation of The Gloaming's unique musical fusion: the ambiance & drama of the best chamber music, a virtuosic command of Irish traditional folk forms, the emotional power of the sean-nos traditional singing technique, and serious improvisatory chops. In our favorite review of the band's music, a critic referred to The Gloaming's sound as “a new kind of Irish classical music” — and we think that just about nails it.

While the band's chart position proves the band are both a critical & popular phenomenon in Ireland, The Gloaming’s commercial & cultural impact in the United States should not be understated — their first two albums have made top 10 debuts on the American world music charts, and their records have seen considerable sales spikes after appearances on multiple NPR Album of the Year lists in 2014, and after singer Iarla O'Lionaird had a prominent vocal cameo in the film Brooklyn, a Best Picture nominee at the recent 2016 Academy Awards telecast. (Terry Gross namechecking Iarla on her Fresh Air program didn't hurt.)

For those of you who'd like to go-deep on their new album let us refer you to 2's album page which provides scholarly levels of detail via Iarla's song-by-song notes on the tunes. But if you're merely looking for some sweet linguistic nothings in browser tab form, look no further. We'll end this newsblast with some early praise for the album:

“[R]evisit the music of the stunningly good all-star band... cozy and magical" — Anastasia Tsioulcas in NPR Music's list of "our favorite global music right now"

"The Gloaming have become an international phenomenon, thanks to their virtuoso blend of Irish traditional influences and experimentation" - The Guardian's guide to Unmissable Culture of 2016 (United Kingdom)

"Avec ses complaintes épurées, son folk exposé dans le plus simple appareil et sa grande limpidité poétique, le second album de The Gloaming confirme tout le bien que l’on pensait de cette formation irlandaise. Moins glacé, plus incarné que le précédent album" — Les Inrocks (France)

""The Gloaming is to Irish music what the Punch Brothers are to Americana: a troupe of top-rate musicians drawing from and modernizing traditional music" — CBC Music (Canada)

***** "they’ve surpassed themselves" — Songlines (United Kingdom)

**** "An exquisite album from a virtuoso band." — The Guardian (United Kingdom)

9/10 — Hot Press

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