Monthly Archives: June 2008

Songs All Sizes

This post is not related to reviewing a gig (that’s the stated purpose of this blog by the way, if you’re a newcomer), but is a reply to Adam’s “meme”. The accompanying picture is my girlfriend’s dog, sitting in a flower pot. She was not prompted. Trixie is her own woman, and is always herself with no regard to what people expect of her. As evidenced by the fact that she sits in flower pots, for reasons known only to herself. Now, the meme.

“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre,whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.” (I’m not tagging the other people, because everyone I know has already been hit, pretty much)

There is no theme to this. They’re seven songs that are current in my head. The music I hum when I’m sitting around doing nothing.

The Fiery Furnaces – Straight Street
I came really late to the Fiery Furnaces. I am hypnotised by how many words they use. I am going to be honest and say I have no idea what this song is actually about, which is a problem with the Friedbergers’ use of 10,000 syllables a sentence in their songs. It’s still excellent though.

Kila – Tine Lasta
Everyone switches off when Kila are mentioned. This is a misstep. Ronán Ó Snodaigh sings like a pig on fire over his own drumming in this. Could be bodhrán, could be djembe, I dunno. It’s as intense as you’re going to find, though. I don’t understand half of what he’s saying, because my Irish isn’t that good… but I don’t understand the Fiery Furnaces either. It’s the energy that matters.

M.I.A. – Paper Planes
I don’t know what it is about this song. It’s catchy as shit, obviously, but am I the only person who hears centuries of colonial oppression in every good M.I.A. song? I’m pretty convinced it’s just because I’m a sap. But seriously. There are tonnes of bricks weighing on this track.

Mumblin’ Deaf Ro – The Drowning Man
I love Mumblin’ Deaf Ro. He writes genuinely interesting songs that read (listen?) like short stories set to music. I only have his albums on CD, because I got to like the idea of keeping anything I have in a physical format off my computer. So he’s one of a few things I’ve bought in the past year that I actually sit down to listen to, with no MSN or blog-browsing or whatever in the background. “Float, float, float, float, sink, sink, drown”. That’s poetry if ever I heard it.

Grizzly Bear – Little Brother (Friend EP version)
This version of this song is one of my favourites ever. In my head, it soundtracks the winter from starting in Trinity in October to when it started to get brighter around April. Rain, dark, wet, gloomy. Early or late. Walking places alone. Also, that moment when everyone has left the party and you’re one of a few left, just staring. Also, medication.

Jay-Z – December 4th
The song that gets one of the best albums of all time into gear. It’s the Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, the ultimate rap bildungsroman. I feel really uncomfortable trying to talk about rap because I’ve got minimal reference points, but this could be a capella and still be just as good. Proper oral poetry. The man is a genius. If you can’t respect that, your whole perspective is wack.

Dublin Duck Dispensary – Electric Picnic
As friendly, as happy, as contented as meeting a warm towel after getting out of the sea. So lo-fi you might have found yourself checking to see if your speakers are blown if you weren’t forewarned. Jars of colour. And exactly one tiny bit too short, the perfect way to be.

So there you go. I briefly considered trying to pick cooler stuff, but it’s better this way. This is the stuff I walk around to. If your interest is piqued in any of them, go to my Muxtape and see what you can see see see.

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High White Deer

The ground’s been covered by others already, and I’ve fallen into the bad habit of writing way too much about everything, so I’m going to do one sentence reviews of all the bands from the Future Days festival, which was a good night in general.

High Places – Their one good song was good, if just as muddy as everything else.
White Williams – Shite Williams
Deerhunter – I wanted to like them, but they did not grab me.
Dan Deacon – The best holiday entertainer ever, and my vote for world-wide funmaker.
Jape – Tried bit hard at the start, before busting out the perennially great Floating and sliding easily and brilliantly to the finishing line.

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I was a Flower of the mountain yes

I don’t often leave the D2 comfort zone to go to gigs (and when I do I generally make a big deal of it), but Thinguma*jigsaw are special. I’ve never seen them before, and as their album is probably the best thing to come out of Ireland since… James Joyce? I was excited.

James Joyce, then. My understanding was that the event was in celebration of Bloomsday, and that this was why Thinguma*jigsaw were playing (they love him). Thinguma*jigsaw are an insane, hyper-literate, necro-obsessed Norwegian couple whose arrangements consist of banjo-and-musical saw, banjo-and-flute or banjo-and-melodica pretty much exclusively, if you didn’t know.

It was a walk around Howth Head, followed by a repair to the Bailly for further music and merriment. James Joyce and Thinguma*jigsaw (with the potential for added Mumblin’ Deaf Ro) in Howth is basically the ideal Saturday afternoon to me. There was something weird though. Aoife Mc flagged it, but I missed it. Psycho Kate Bush fan event. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a Kate Bush psycho, but I’m not one, and I’ve only heard two Kate Bush songs ever. So that was a bit of a shock. Also, we couldn’t find the actual walk so we just went to the pier until the pub bit started anyway.

I think the Severed Headmaster and Little Myth Epiphanymph, a.k.a. Seth and Martha (Seth may be a second level of fake name – possible real name Stein) were probably there for the Joyce rather than the Bush too though. They started with a reading of the climax to Ulysses that captured a lot of its fluidity and energy, and also showcased Severed-Seth-Stein’s hybrid Norwego-Hiberno-Americo-Mockney accent.

They commanded silence for their music. The Headmaster landed somewhere between an author reading his work and a circus ringmaster introducing acts when explaining songs. Martha did not talk, but her death-stare said enough. They sang a lot of songs about death, including a cover of I Love The Dead by Alice Cooper which has the implied Joyce association attached (cheat sheet: last book of Dubliners is called The Dead). His voice is a frail falsetto, over a musical backing which has to be skeletal by definition.

Skeletal is Thinguma*jigsaw all over. They trade in silence, gaunt banjo picking under genuinely shiver-inducing bowed-saw parts. They are kind of scary, especially at such close proximity. If you can’t picture the music still, go to the Muxtape and listen to Serpent’s Apple. I have no idea how a duo would develop into what Thinguma*jigsaw are. No microphones, no nothing. Just words, bones and shivers.

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I’d rather date Rwanda


According to some review I found while researching (putting “Stephen Malkmus” into Google and clicking everything for five pages) for the Analogue interview I did with him before his gig on Monday, Malkmus fans are divided into two camps. Those who like Face The Truth, and those who like Pig Lib. I want to preface this post by saying that I like both. I love Pavement, I like focused Malkmus a healthy amount, but I also genuinely enjoy the jam bits. So, unlike a lot of people I talked to after the gig, I wasn’t disappointed or surprised that he went mostly with the strung out guitar jams. I was actually pretty happy.

Thing is, to my ears, Malkmus guitar-waffle never descends into pointlessness. He has said in interviews that you’re not supposed to listen that closely to the instrumental breaks on Real Emotional Trash. But I think you can. Through all the solos in the live set (and there were solos in pretty much everything), my attention never wandered. It’s not just fucking around! Seriously! It’s what blues would be if shit, Record Collector magazine-reading, high school English teachers weren’t choking it to death through reverence and simultaneous enjoyment of 70s classic rock. The Jicks sound fresh to me, and distinctive. The really great instrumental parts were the best part of the show.

Thing is, by playing a lot of really long songs, there’s less time left to play some of the million excellent songs of average length in his catalogue. Pencil Rot? Jenny and the Ess-Dog? Also, by definition, Stephen Malkmus solo is hampered by the fact that half his audience at least is hoping every time he finishes a song that the next one is going to be Cut Your Hair. He even said “I need a hair cut” before one of his encore tunes (possibly Baby C’mon). Probably intentional, probably habitual.

He’s not hung up on being a solo artist. He had no complaints about talking about Pavement as if it was still a real entity in the interview. He’s just doing the jam-out thing right now, and it’s probably just as fun to pretend he’s going to play Cut Your Hair to him as it is to actually play Cut Your Hair. Still, he’s a fucker for teasing. Really enjoyable show, nonetheless. I put one of my favourites off Real Emotional Trash, Gardenia, up in the muxtape you can find in the sidebar, if you’re curious.

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Put the shadows in their boxes

01 15 Step
02 Bodysnatchers
03 Airbag
04 Bangers & Mash
05 Nude
06 Pyramid Song
07 Arpeggi
08 The Gloaming
09 The National Anthem
10 Faust Arp
11 Videotape
12 Optimistic
13 Where I End And You Begin
14 Reckoner
15 Everything In Its Right Place
16 All I Need
17 There There

Encore 1:
18 Exit Music
19 Jigsaw Falling Into Place
20 Climbing Up The Walls
21 Planet Telex
22 How To Disappear Completely

Encore 2:
23 Super Collider
24 You And Whose Army?
25 Idioteque

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In Rainbows

Radiohead Day 1. It rains on the queue, like it always does. Bat For Lashes plays. Her band have a lot of interesting instruments, including a horn played with a bow, but she doesn’t really capture my imagination. It rains some more when she finishes. Then, ten minutes before Radiohead are due on: rainbow. Two rainbows. The significance is not lost on anyone.

Started with All I Need, which pretty much set the tone for the day. The gig in Marley Park in 2006 was basically a festival set, all the songs one could pogo to. But this is the In Rainbows tour. The regular set was full of stuff off In Rainbows, and stuff that followed that general vibe. Lucky, for example, came out early, and a couple from (my favourite Radiohead album) Amnesiac appeared. Guitar rock in general was limited. A good thing.

Thom is a weird guy. He’s like an avatar of all this horrible stuff he sings, complains and makes artwork about for a living. Fake fits for dances. Gurning. Staring down Scotch_Mist style webcams which operated as cameras for the big screens. His straight-to-camera, eyebrow-raised, way-too-close rendition of You and Whose Army? straight down the lens raised laughs. But it was pretty frightening too.

I was happy to see Myxomatosis, complete with body-twisting, Boney King of Nowhere dance. Everything In Its Right Place was not the set closer, Videotape was. Better yet, How To Disappear Completely ended the first encore. Just the type of weird but representative, slight sick-feeling set I was hoping for.

Second encore brought Supercollider, a new song, which I’m assuming is about this fucker. Then Just, and Paranoid Android. It is impossible to not fill with joy hearing Paranoid Android. It is a work of utter genius, and very possibly the best song ever written. I know I love superlatives on this blog, but I’ve devoted a solid five or six years to Radiohead and have consistently listened to and loved them more than any other band. I will never get sick of spending €70 to see them (or getting tickets as presents, as the case is with tonight).

Heading out again after dinner. See you there.

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In The Morning All I Could Do Was Sing


Duty called me to Tripod on Tuesday. Tapes ‘n’ Tapes, Sons and Daughters and Port O’Brien.

There was a time when I would have paid to see Tapes ‘n’ Tapes, but that time is not now. And I have no love for Sons and Daughters. So the only band I was interested in seeing was Port O’Brien. Which was convenient, because they were the ones I was interviewing.

It was only a short, first-of-three opening set in a Tripod that went from empty to half-full as it progressed. Not really the kind of thing that can give a true impression of a band, especially one like Port O’Brien who are quiet twice as often as they’re loud and play a lot of soul-searching songs about the sea. It was good to see though.

The difference between Port O’Brien and every band that sails the ocean deep in their imagination is this: salmon fishing. Van Pierszalowski, who is the main singer and songwriter, is the son of a commercial salmon fisherman, and Van spends summers in Alaska with him. Being a skiff-man, whatever that is. Cambria Goodwin, who plays banjo (inaudible at Tripod but essential to the sound on record) and also sings, is a baker at a salmon cannery. When Port O’Brien write songs with nautical metaphors… they’re not metaphors. Well, they are. But it’s a level closer. It’s like the difference between a Hollywood actor doing an Irish accent, and an actual Irish accent, sort of.

Relating to the gig specifically, I’ll just say that even though the other three people in the band (Josh, Zebedee and Caleb) were straight out of Vetiver/a Californian medicinal marijuana supplier’s in appearance (flares and beards, basically), there is a distinctive Arcade Fire vibe about their live show. Part of it’s the chemistry between Van and Cambria. Part of it’s the energy of certain songs of theirs, not as developed as Arcade Fire’s by a long shot, but showing signs. I don’t know what the rest of it is, it’s just an instinctive thing on my part.

The gig didn’t do them justice, because they were cut short and the circumstances weren’t right. But if you follow up on one thing I say on this blog, make it this: click the Muxtape link on the sidebar, and listen to I Woke Up Today.

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