Category Archives: Crawdaddy

Confetti floats away like dead leaves in the wagon’s wake.

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Some bands you just listen to because you like the sound of their music. Some bands, however, are a little more than that. They make you feel like you want them to get into a war so you can fight for them. They make you understand why scene kids get tattoos of lyrics in curly typefaces.

There are bands that you’re loyal to because it felt like they were loyal to you. Or that’s what it feels like with Sunset Rubdown anyway. Nearly five years ago, Snake’s Got A Leg was there summing up a particular black-hole type feeling. Random Spirit Lover walked me across Liffey bridges more times than I remember, and I probably listened to the Mending of the Gown more times in my first year of college than I actually talked to anyone. And this year, Dragonslayer happened to appear at the perfect time to attach to a particular, tumultuous state of mind too.

A sad fact and widely known, however, is that the most impassionate sound to a lonely soul is so easily outgrown. Nonetheless, Sunset Rubdown have stuck with me, and going to see them live has a little bit more attached to it than, say, Deerhunter or even Deerhoof. So I arrived in close to nine and stuck up the edge to the front to catch a glimpse.

The song that ended the last Sunset Rubdown gig in Crawdaddy, The Empty Threats of Little Lord, opened tonight. Intentional or not, it added an element of continuity and seemed to almost invite you to notice that, such is the quality of Dragonslayer start to finish, songs that were encores in 08 are right at the beginning in 09. And then, before Spencer was even finished denouncing the snake, Idiot Heart, Dragonslayer’s approximation of a danceable indie hit, began clacking sinisterly.

Nearly all of Dragonslayer made an appearance, though notably no Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh. From the back catalogue: Winged Wicked Things, glowing in poetry. The Taming of the Hands That Came Back To Life, upped in tempo slightly and bacchanalian in temperament. Mending of the Gown, through the live mill and still recalling the mad preacher at the pulpit. Trumpet Trumpet Toot Toot was manic too, as usual.

But the best song was a new one, and for me the best Sunset Rubdown song full stop, putting it into “favourite songs in general” in my loose mental filing cabinet as well. You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II). I spent yesterday before the gig tweeting Krug lyrics, but you’d find it tough to top “I’d like to watch the white flash of your heels as they take turns breaking the desert heat, and beckon me in languages I never learned” no matter where you looked. Close to six minutes, it takes turns round corners and through tunnels and off cliffs, but it’s about the peak of Spencer’s five year genius streak.

I always find it hard to write about bands that I’ve written about before at length, but in the end of year review where I vastly underestimated Random Spirit Lover a few years ago I said “Random Spirit Lover sees Spencer Krug split his time between being the demon ringmaster of some sort of keyboard-led musical circus noir and being the hilltop poet of both doom and everyday wisdom.” I stand behind that description still, two years on, now that it’s clearer than Random Spirit Lover is 100 times the record I thought it was, and that Sunset Rubdown have cemented themselves in lifetime pass territory as a Favourite Band

This might be gig of the year.

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Everyone you meet is not better than you.

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I’m not, in day to day life, Jeffrey Lewis’ biggest fan. It’s not because I don’t like his music, I just never spent any time with it for some reason. I did however see him supporting HRH Stephen Malkmus last year in Tripod, and I was enthralled.

Take one part Moldy Peaches-y New York anti-folk, add in one part US slacker punk. Mix in an obsession with comic books, and take away most of the cocaine, pills and alcohol that Adam Green seems like he’s on. Add some bizarre, image-accompanied factual songs about the history of communism or, on that occasion, the Creeping Brain.

That’s Jeffrey Lewis, or the ingredients for Jeffrey Lewis in any case. Saw him in Crawdaddy on Wednesday night, and it was surprisingly packed out.

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Wellllllllllll I got friends in low places.

High Places.

What they do is not so much performance as a sort of twisted midwifery to a very obscured and confused baby. Man playing very low-volume drum pads and a woodblock. Woman talking (not even backwards), or singing without enthusiasm. A table covered in wires acting as a barrier between uninterested band and uninterested crowd. There is no aspect of this that comes across better live than on record. In fact, the most impressive member of High Places, Sampler, would probably prefer not to tour at all.

The best thing High Places have ever done was appear on Bradford Cox’s video guide to the Pitchfork festival. And I don’t even like Bradford Cox. May this band go away soon, and may their mp3s languish unheard in the mysterious ether of a thousand hard drives till the Great Computer Virus of the Future removes them from recorded history.

No catchy bits. Even their “one good song” was drowned in its own self-conscious muck. This is a totem pole made of its own hype, and it should never be given the twelve euro tribute I foolishly gave it.

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Catch up

Port O’Brien were a tentative plus. More, in a slightly less familiar tone than is usually taken here, posted at Analogue. They seemed tired, and they didn’t play Pigeonhold, but it was still pretty good. I went to Whelans with a guy I know but hadn’t seen in ages, his Nordy girlfriend, Zebedee and Joshua. They plied me with free rider wine and we discussed how Thin Lizzy definitely aren’t the best Irish band ever, despite what (assumably) Mighty Stef fans shouted during the set. Zeb thought Van Morrison was the best if he counts, and he didn’t hate U2. I withheld my opinion so as not to be rude. They were mad for the Guinness.

The USB cable for my phone doesn’t seem to be doing anything, so the era of the no-fi snap is dead and I’m back to stealing Flickr pictures from anyone whose Flickr I can find and Google Image searching “salmon of knowledge”. Alas.

Why? was excellent if exactly the same as last time in Crawdaddy, and very much different but very interesting in the stripped down gig at Twisted Pepper. A review of both will be forthcoming.

It’s that time of year to start thinking about a top 25. If anyone has any recommendations of things that they think are better than Vampire Weekend, Deerhoof, Of Montreal or Why?, tell me now while there’s still breathing room.

New Analogue goes to print tomorrow with a 2,500 word Vampire Weekend interview (uaimse) and a similarly-sized Built To Spill piece from Darragh leading the troops to battle. This one appears to have been copy-edited hard, too, so prepare for new levels of free, mistake-free indie music journalism.

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God gave me very specific instructions. (Monday pt. 1)


The Mae Shi are a band I hadn’t heard before last Monday. For most of the gigs I review on this blog, I have about six months of fanboy excitement brewing up inside me hyping it up. Not this time.

Technically I was there courtesy of Crayonsmith via their manager Dave via Bobby. But I don’t think much of Crayonsmith. I might have mentioned that before, because they do support 70% of all bands. If not though, I’m putting it out there now, I don’t like their music. Most of it is begging for melody, and the ones that have decent tunes at the core are generally pushing a bit towards 2005 NME territory. I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning that I don’t like them, except that they’re physically impossible to avoid, either live or in Irish music writing. Even us Analogue boys having been covering them. But it’s not for me.

Mae Shi were on second, behind Noah and the Whale, who I have no interest in whatsoever. I was asking stupid questions (“Are they post-rock or what?”) and making stupid claims (“They look like I won’t like them.”) for the whole of their lengthy set-up. They opened with I Get Almost Everything, from the crowd. They spent lots and lots of their time in the crowd.

Most of their stuff was really good. “Twee hardcore” was the label State luminary and aforementioned guestlist fixer Bobby gave them. Not too far wrong. It was as if that sort of ultra-serious flavourless US punk-hardcore had been squirted with gunge or something. Run To Your Grave is one I remember as standing out, even though I didn’t get the album until after (maybe “get” in inverted commas would be more appropriate).

For a record that seems to be some sort of concept album about biblical judgment, executed over glitchy keyboards, incredibly catchy singalong choruses and bursts of hardcore, it’s surprisingly cohesive and excellent. HLLLYH, it’s called. It’s infused with a punk-like communalist vibe, except with all the accessibility of someone like Danielson.

They engulfed the whole crowd in a sheet at one point. Everyone was pushing it up, singing along even if they didn’t know the words. The energy was thick enough to bottle and sell. And they were (technically) a support band. Basically, as their press stuff says, The Mae Shi want you to love life as much as they do. A nice thing to experience.

Photo from Fuchsia’s Flickr, more there.

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The child in a grown man’s beard

Sunset Rubdown for me is a freezing winter’s morning, walking from Docklands to Trinity. It’s about 8.40, I’ve missed the train I should’ve been on, and taken a gamble on going to Docklands. By the time I get to college I’m late for my class, I can’t find it anyway, and I have nothing else until 3 or 4. I walk up Grafton St. and have a muffin in Stephen’s Green near the James Joyce statue. The soundtrack to the whole thing is Random Spirit Lover.

It’s hard for gigs to compete with that sort of subjective, impressionistic association. Random Spirit Lover will always remind me of that day, even though it’s not particularly notable. Any live show is going to have to work really hard to replace it.

Spencer is a big ball of some weird energy in person. He sweats ridiculously. Sometimes, when the music is getting to a climax, he stands up with one leg on the stool behind him while he bangs out the keyboard line and yelps. He’s not the best communicator between songs, but there’s no point in real-life talk when you can say what you need to say through animal metaphors and overwhelming wordy brilliance in-song.

I was surprised that some people weren’t crazily impressed by this gig. To me, every song was like a set-closer. The Shut Up I Am Dreaming Stadiums and Shrines was the second song they played. It could’ve been an encore. The Taming Of The Hands That Came Back To Life was a good example of a song that is great on the album, but really, fully comes alive when that weird Spencer Krug energy is imbued live.

The rest of the band are on the same frequency too. Camilla Wynn Ingr’s keyboards and vocals are about 5% of what makes Sunset Rubdown 400 times better than Wolf Parade.

OH SHIT!

Fuck, I said it. Fuck my 2005/6 self. Sunset Rubdown is a completely different level of band. They not only do what they do better, they just work on a different level altogether. The Mending Of The Gown is the best song of 2007 and possibly of the decade so far, despite what I said (or neglected to say) in December, and they ended the set with it. Then, solemn-faced, The Angry Threats Of Little Lord came out for the encore.

Why it wasn’t the perfect gig
One or two songs were not very good.
Support band Speck Mountain said Dublin was in the UK.
Drunken Lout, shut up.

Apart from that, I can’t fault it.

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Fuck dancing all night.


Went to see Jape again in Crawdaddy last night. No fruit was flung, many songs were sung, some weren’t sung at all but merely banged out with all the unselfconscious aplomb of Scooter covering lo-fi indie rock. I like Jape. He pulled a strange crowd too. Definitely older than the average Crawdaddy gig crowd, but it was Friday and I suppose the short-lived NME Ireland thing probably helped him in those quarters.

One person was clearly on ecstasy. She was blowing in the wind and making shapes in the air and generally raving it up for the whole gig, but scarily she smashed a pint glass and then didn’t notice that she was dancing barefoot on broken glass. She seemed happy enough though.

Jape-wise, Phil Lynott the song is still ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t worship the name of Phil Lynott, but At The Heart Of All This Strangeness (I think that’s the title – the only other soft one) was really good, and had the Friday night crowd shushing each other. Haunting stuff, and a really unusual chord in there somewhere.

Floating was banging. It’s just instant gratification, alternative pop at its best. He has a couple of those, not so good but on the way. And he has a couple of ones where the lyrics render the song unlikeable. That’s the trade-off when you’re working on that kind of level of honesty, that sort of conversational thing.

It can go terribly wrong, like when it’s about Phil Lynott (sorry! Comedy song!), but the first lines of Floating are poetry.

We took our first pill when the music was shit.
We said “Fuck dancing all night”, but then we did it.

FIRST USE OF BLOCKQUOTE FUNCTION. Good gig.

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Now, Fight Like Apes

As Crawdaddy filled up for Fight Like Apes, there was a definite sense of anticipation. It felt weird, like on of the landmark shows people talk about – The Smiths in the Hacienda or Radiohead at Glastonbury 97 or whatever. The room was heaving. They played at the same time as the Concretes, but I can’t imagine even having given half a thought to seeing that. It was like a big fight or something. Like when Bernard Dunne fought Kiko. It wasn’t the title fight, but if he fucked it up (which he did) it was back to square one. Luckily, Fight Like Apes were not knocked out by a Spaniard in the first round. The opposite, really. Gig of the weekend.

There are three main things that I would note if I was seeing Fight Like Apes for the first time (rather than the second time). The first: they don’t use guitars. Without hearing them, you’d immediately start to think of shit new rave bands or boring atmospherics. But it’s not like that. It’s definitely indie rock, it’s Elephant 6 on punk rock tablets. The second thing: they’re really loud. They use synths. Tech bit: synth synthesise sound. So they use the full wave instead of just whatever comes out, like in a guitar. So when you play a synth loud, it’s like a wall. Which is the great thing about Fight Like Apes. They sound like a wall. The third thing about them is just that they look mad, which again is partly a result of not using guitars and being able to dance around in a visually different way.

All of that is pointless talk though, so ignore it. The reason Fight Like Apes blew away Hard Working Class Heroes is because they have really catchy songs which they play really loud. They have flippant songs like Canhead (which I nearly lost my voice screaming) and they have serious songs like Battlestations. They have Lend Me Your Face, “114 of Irish contemporary music’s most celebrated seconds”, universally recognised and easy to appreciate. But Jake Summers is the best. It just is. The way it’s put together. The words. It’s one of those golden apples of pop music. I hope Fight Like Apes become the next U2 and I can tell people I was in the front row for them twice and saw May Kay burp while introducing a song, and fall over while rocking out in heels. They were definitely better than most of the touring bands I’ve seen in the past year. They’re probably better than we deserve.

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Ten Past Seven

Ten Past Seven are the kind of band I hadn’t realised Ireland was capable of producing. They’re from Kerry but they’re based in Cork, and they sound like a million directions at a million speeds. I wandered in to see them at 10 o’clock in Crawdaddy after the disappointment of pretty much missing Super Extra Bonus Party through sloppy timekeeping. There was a respectable crowd, and once 7.10 got going, it got very difficult to imagine being anywhere else, seeing any other band at that particular time. They land somewhere between Battles and Lightning Bolt to my ear, though I don’t have a lot of reference points when it comes to progressive time-signature bingo riffing, and they have a convenient knack of making everything else seem a bit normal. Feeling more adventurous and spurred on by a particularly fast and crashy bout of riffing in an absurd time signature, I ventured some head nodding. I regretted it quickly, as Ten Past Seven subconsciously sensed me trying to catch the beat and changed it completely to throw me and everyone else off. A resounding success, all in all, and the best act of the Friday.

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