Story By: G. H. HARDING

HOZIER --- When Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” came out, I was simply mesmerized. The song was unlike anything else on the radio, and yet it fit in so perfectly.

The song became an instant radio hit, aided by a visually stunning video. The more I heard it, the more I realized that it was work from an important new artist. When he appeared on February’s Grammy Awards—singing with Annie Lennox, no less—he more than held his own. (Frankly, I couldn't take my eyes off him!) He plays guitar without a pick, in the tradition of British guitar genius Jeff Beck and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, and the acoustic effect he achieves is just delightful.

We finally got his first Stateside album, and love everything about it. The track “From Eden” is superlative. Reminiscent of the sound and songwriting style of Paul Simon, it’s an altogether stunning track.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne (born in March 1990), is an Irish musician and singer-songwriter from Bray, County Wicklow. In 2013, he released his debut EP, featuring the hit single "Take Me to Church", and his second EP From Eden in 2014.

His debut studio album, Hozier (Sony), was released in Ireland in September 2014 and globally in October 2014.

He has also appeared on Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2014, Saturday Night Live, and Late Night with Seth Meyers. We also loved the CD’s tracks “Jackie Wilson,” “Someone New,” and “To Be Alone.”

Plus, the album cover graphic—painted by his mother (!!)—is also a real treat. Here is the arrival of an important new artist, for sure, and the best album of this year for me so far. A must-have for every playlist.

SHINER SCORES A RECORD --- New York-based vocalist FRANK SHINER has nabbed himself another Top 5 AC record. His song “The Real Me”—the title track off his current album The Real Me—has soared to the #5 spot (FYI: Shiner now becomes the second of two artists to land consecutive Top 5 AC records so far this year). Shiner, who just performed at NYC’s Cutting Room to much acclaim, will be the headline performer on Friday at the 60th annual Fine Arts Fiesta in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

The Fine Arts Fiesta (which will run this year from May 14-17) began in 1956. It remains a gathering of the great volume of fine art created within the community of Wilkes Barre.

The Fiesta has recognized since its formation the need for a community to come together in order to celebrate diversity, talent, passion in artwork, and friendship.

Shiner joins other headliners at the fest, including singer/songwriter Marshall Crenshaw (“Someday, Someway” from 1982 – Crenshaw also had a brief cameo as the musician-boyfriend to Helen Hunt’s character in Francis Coppola’s 1986 Boomer-beloved “time-travel” comedy-drama Peggy Sue Got Married) and the Marko Marcinko Jazz Quartet.

Shiner will also return for an encore performance at The Cutting Room on July 25.

FLASH FRAME --- As this year’s rather dismal TV season limps to its official close next month, we want to, one-by-one, go through the hits and misses.

First up: Two comic book classics brought to the TV screen. Fox’s Gotham, and CW 11’s The Flash.

Gotham was sold as the story of Batman before Batman. It was actually more the story of soon-to-be police commissioner James Gordon, essayed brilliantly by young Ben McKenzie. It was a brilliant concept, developed by Bruno Heller (The Mentalist), and the stories for the most part have been excellent. But (and there’s always a but) they have sure taken their time telling this story.

With only three episodes to go before the season’s end, they still have yet to bring young Bruce Wayne close to even becoming the tormented superhero alter-ego at the center of his world. Monday’s episode had young Wayne witnessing his first death—at the hands of a young Catwoman, no less) and coming close to tears.

Clearly, this show’s version of Bruce Wayne still has a few steps yet left to become the Caped Crusader.

Gotham started strong--very strong—out of the box, but its trajectory has certainly slowed. Me being a die hard comic book guy, I'm loving the show—but I felt the season should have ended with Bruce perhaps putting on “the cowl.” It'll be back for another season, but it'd better step it up quickly.

The Flash, on the other hand, has fared far better. While it’s been conceived in more of a comic-book world, with fantastical imagery and great effects, the stories have been spot-on excellent, and the performances by Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, and—in a brilliant move—John Wesley Shipp (who portrayed the main character in an ill-advised 1990 version of the show) have all been terrific. Especially good in the show has been Tom Cavanagh in the role of Harrison Wells, who may or may not end the season as a hero or foe. Wells is sensational, bringing a sense of wonder and passion to the whole show.

Sure, each episode has a so-called “villain of the week,” yet each ep has ended with a teaser of sorts that has proven each time to be totally captivating. The stories are told quickly and with quirky hooks (they boast superb special effects for a TV outing) that work terrifically well.

For my money, The Flash has been the #1 show of the season.

CLOSING NOTES --- We picked up Crain’s New York Business the other day, as we've sort of lost track of it, and was surprised to see almost an almost entirely new staff in place. At some point earlier this year, they apparently cleaned house. Sad to see that our friend, editor Valerie Block, is gone from the publication. She was a visionary and creative editor, and her stamp could be found all throughout the paper. Now, Crain’s seems somewhat directionless. Too bad . . .

Check out Parade's terrific interview, by Nancy Berk, on actress and now-singer Gloria Reuben and her new album Perchance To Dream (MCG Jazz).

We are sending out positive thoughts to actress/singer Rita Wilson upon learning of her breast cancer diagnosis. We've loved her since the 1985 movie Volunteers, where she met future husband Tom Hanks. The real deal, for sure ...

Billy Joel and girlfriend Alexis Roderick are expecting their first child, a representative for the 65-year-old singer announced. They have been dating since 2009.

Roderick will be 34 next month.

The baby will be Joel's second child and first with Roderick. He is the father of singer-songwriter Alexa Ray Joel.

The statement from Joel's representative said the couple "opted to keep any further details of her pregnancy under wraps until their new addition makes an official debut."

Joel is completing a month-to-month residency at Madison Square Garden in New York City. His next show is on May 28 .

. .

The Monkees (a.k.a., the “Micky & Peter Show” this time around) are set to play Westbury Music Fair (or, whatever it's being called these days) on August 29. Quick—call Frank's Restaurant to book a delicious nearby pre-show dinner . . .

Percy Sledge, RIP ...

SIGHTINGS --- WOR's Tom Cuddy at Walker's in Tribeca.