Monthly Archives: May 2009

Reading List

books

Inspired by Aoife‘s post about the books she wants to read over the summer, I thought I’d do a copycat post here.

Reasons? A) I already have a mental list (and physical stacks) of books I want to read over the summer. B) I have a lot of free time in the absence of any call backs from the shops in the Blanchardstown Centre offering me a prized position as a shop boy.  C) Lists, if you missed List Week, are pretty much the key argument of Blogging Often For Dummies.

However, unlike Aoife, I don’t honestly expect to get even halfway through this list. I probably won’t even countenance the idea of opening some of them, just because I’ll be still stuck on the second one by the end of July. I study English during the year, but even then I have vague trouble reading enough to survive. In the offseason, my brain tends to yearn for easier media of entertainment. When I do pick up a book, it is usually for about ten pages at a time. I don’t give up but the pace is pretty testudinal.

But don’t jail me for grand designs. Or for the non-music post. Wishlist:

Ten Novels

  • David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest (started – 133 pages in)
  • JRR Tolkien – Lord of the Rings (re-read – don’t ask)
  • Paul Auster – Timbuktu
  • Salman Rushdie – The Enchantress of Florence
  • Herman Melville – Moby Dick
  • Máirtín Ó Cadhain – Cré na Cille
  • Orhan Pamuk – Snow
  • Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns
  • John Irving – The World According to Garp
  • Flann O’Brien – At Swim-Two-Birds (re-read)

Five More

  • Simon Armitage (trans.) – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (romance)
  • Roddy Doyle – The Deportees (stories)
  • Thomas Kinsella (trans.) – The Táin (epic)
  • Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology
  • Edward Said – Culture & Imperialism (literary theory, arguably)
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Interview Project #1: Mumblin’ Deaf Ro

Photo by Mark whitenoisevisuals.com

Photo by Mark whitenoisevisuals.com

Mumblin’ Deaf Ro is the musical project of a man named Ronan Hession. He has released two albums to date. Señor My Friend came out in 2003 to such praise as “cult classic” (Irish Times) and “one of the lost classics of Irish indie pop” (Mongrel). “Classic” seems to have been the consensus. He followed it up with The Herring and the Brine in 2007, which improved on Señor My Friend and managed to become one of my personal favourite Irish albums ever. Ro’s songs are about, for example, the economic difficulties facing a new leader in a fragile democracy, the stress under which novice priests labour, and the strain of being unable to rescue someone drowning before your eyes. I shouldn’t need to type the words “truly original”. But I did, and I stand by it.

Mumblin’ Deaf Ro – Brother Peter

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Q 0.5 How are you?

Good thanks. Life is good.
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An Interview Project

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I’m about to try something.

I’ve sent a set of questions to some Dublin bands who I think are making interesting music at the moment. Every band gets the same set of questions. Some of the questions are fairly obvious and specific, but others are open to interpretation, and that’s part of the fun.

Most of the questions stem from concepts I’ve had lodged in my head for a while, and questions I ask myself when I’m listening to music, but I don’t want to get deep into the theory of it until I get some interviews up. The answers should hopefully be interesting, and they look so far like they will be.

They’ll begin, if not tomorrow, then on Tuesday, and will go up every Tuesday until I get tired of doing it, until my curiosity is satisfied, or until Dublin runs out of interesting bands.

This is in effect just a note to say: look out.

(Sorry for stealing your photo, Cáit Fahey)

Genius Streaks.

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It took a couple of listens to properly unlock Veckatimest, but when I did, it got me to thinking. Some of this stuff is patent genius. Obviously the first single ‘Two Weeks‘ is one example, but as with Yellow House before it, some of the greatest moments are the ones hiding a little below the surface, popping out when you shine a light into a dusty corner in a room where the door’s been locked and the curtains have been closed for years until now.

Grizzly Bear are clearly one of the best bands working today. And there’s something of a different feeling to getting a great debut album by a new band, who are bringing a refreshing new sound or at least a new twist, than there is to getting the next album by a band in its prime. So Vampire Weekend’s album was exciting, but it’s not yet part of something potential bigger, which will be memorialised in future decades in The Essential Vampire Weekend lists and in XL Classics double album re-issues.

Grizzly Bear might not be there yet, but they’re on the cusp of it. Yellow House has matured into something of a classic already. Veckatimest is, if you haven’t heard it, a little more broad-focused but at this early stage it certainly has the makings of something great too. And then you can factor in the Friend EP, which features some of the band’s best songs (reworked Alligator and Little Brother, cover of He Hit Me), and last year’s In Ear Park by Department of Eagles, a band which features three quarters of Grizzly Bear and shares its primary songwriting force in the form of Daniel Rossen.

Who has a better streak than Rossen’s? Yellow House – In Ear Park – Veckatimest over the course of three years. Who is doing better? Or who has done better?

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I considered this out loud earlier on Twitter, but managed to come up with some answers myself.

Better streaks by bands who are still together:

Comparable streaks by bands who are still together:

  • REM – Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction
  • Spencer Krug – Apologies to the Queen Mary (Wolf Parade), Shut Up I Am Dreaming (Sunset Rubdown), Random Spirit Lover (Sunset Rubdown)

Also, you have these which were suggested by Rory on Twiiter:

  • Panda Bear – Strawberry Jam, Person Pitch, Merriweather Post Pavillion
  • The Cure – Head On The Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Disintegration
  • Modest Mouse – This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About, Lonesome Crowded West, The Moon and Antarctica

What do you think?

Do you think you have a three album streak that laughs at the ones I’ve posted? I didn’t include broken-up bands in my own, but Rory did, and you can if you like. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s Gig In Whelans

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On Friday night, Los Angeles and the world’s most renowned hauntology expert Ariel Pink brought his Haunted Graffiti to the upstairs room of Whelans. Accompanied by a troupe of spaced-looking musicians, he filled out the degenerated tape-pop of his recorded career into a live show which consisted of about 33% 60s US guitar psych, 33% Can, 33% wedding band and 1% sanity. Supporting was the curious and excellent Patrick Kelleher and the Cybill Shepherds, and over the course of the gig, the answers to the podcast-posed questions regarding Ariel Pink’s approachability and his general deal emerged.

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List Week! 8. Difficult Albums

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Avey Tare and Kria Brekkan – Pullhair Rubeye (backwards)
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Doldrums (tape-warp)
Panda Bear – Young Prayer (all songs untitled)
Royal Trux – Twin Infinitives (goes through head like drill)
Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat (lengthy short story track difficult to skip on vinyl)

List Week! 7. Five Coolest People In Indie Rock (who I’ve met)

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Robert Schneider (The Apples In Stereo)
Stephen Malkmus
Ryan Ulsh (Wavves/The Super Vacations)
Adam Elliott (Times New Viking)
Jason Molina (Magnolia Elec. Co./Songs Ohia)