Monthly Archives: September 2009

Pixies in Dublin

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@joeysantiago: “Played golf in Dublin with rugby great Brian O’Driscoll and witnessed his first hole in one.”

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And David Lovering doing magic in the International Bar.

But tonight…

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Interview Project #14: The Ambience Affair

Photo by Pete Conway

Photo by Pete Conway

The Ambience Affair are a two-piece from Meath and Dublin who craft layered but snappy indie rock out of an acoustic guitar and a human voice fed through a guitar loop pedal, complemented by drums and completed by an emotive and evocative lead voice. Their debut EP ran through two homemade, hand-painted editions and it’s gone now, but you can still get it digitally from Indiecater. Marc Gallagher plays drums and Jamie Clarke, who took the questions, is responsible for the guitar and singing.

The Ambience Affair – Fragile Things

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Q 0.5 How are you?
I’m good thanks.

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This is not a Tumblr, but here is a quotation nonetheless.

I think the English are the most civilised of all the Europeans. They’re responsible for most good stuff. But you wouldn’t have this confusion if we were talking about reggae or Chinese folk music. Nobody would in their right mind argue that an English band could play African tribal music as well as African tribal people. So where do you get this idea that English people can play rock music – the folk music of America – in any authentic way?

– David Thomas (Pere Ubu), quoted in Simon Reynolds, Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews (London: Faber and Faber, 2009) p. 65

Nodzzz in Whelans

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Wait, what? A lo-fi guitar pop band with a repeating, unnecessary consonant in their name? That concept is completely new to me! My mind is blown.

But seriously, if there’s a market research demographic for “person who will probably end up at anything Foggy or Skinny Wolves put on featuring a lo-fi guitar pop band with a repeating, unnecessary consonant in their name”, I’m in it. I’m a stereotype. So be it. Some are better than others. At some stage I will stay away. But the added draw of a post-Tony Higgins era So Cow show made this particular one attractive enough to attend.

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Interview Project #13: BATS

BATS

BATS are a science-core band from Dublin, and part of the Richter Collective. Science-core is a convenient term to use because it references more than one aspect of their music: their post-hardcore influence is filtered through a precise, mathy screen before emerging as a measured whole. They’re also (see what I’m about to do here) experimental. And their songs are about science. Their ethos is about science. At HWCH last year they solicited a round of applause for the work the good people at CERN were doing with the Large Hadron Collider. It’s not a gimmick. BATS have just released their first album, Red In Tooth and Claw, and their next Dublin headliner is in the Lower Deck in Portobello on October 8th, though you might see them supporting Jesus Lizard or Zu before then.

BATS – Credulous! Credulous! from Red In Tooth and Claw

BATS – These Ones Lay Eggs from 2007’s Cruel Sea Scientist EP
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Q 0.5 How are you?

Fine thanks. A little head melted after being on the road with Blakfish.

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Wounds in Crawdaddy

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I was at this gig, but decided not to write about it because I don’t want to be saying the same thing too often about a great Dublin band.

However, Cáit was there too, and took some pictures that capture it better than my bullshit could.

Look at them

You say it’s gravity, and gravity has a hold on me.

Plucked unceremoniously from this Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmcallisterphotography/

Plucked unceremoniously from this Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmcallisterphotography/

Foggy Notions has its screwed on right anyway. On Friday night in Dublin city centre, for only two euro more than it would have cost you to arrive after its conclusion to dance to Eton Rifles on the cement-clad Whelans playlist, Times New Viking arrived back in Dublin with Lovvers in tow as support.

Slacker punk 09. There was still a lot of empty space around the venue by 9 o’clock, which was mildly disappointing, but barely audible fuzz-drenched blown-out no-fi art school punk is understandably not everyone’s favourite genre of music. The venue filled up to somewhere around half-capacity, I’d say, but the only negative effect of this was on Lovvers’ stage energy.

Last time Lovvers were around, they were downstairs in the Boom Boom Room at hearing loss volumes, 50% of the band playing, Wounds-like, from the floor and the singer turning the act of singing barely above the swell of noise into a tactile, audience-bothering affair. They weren’t that loud this time, and they stayed on the stage. Doesn’t mean they’re not great though.

Channelling not-arsed US punk from the 1980s through a haze of mist, with ultra-melodic lead guitar lines popping up from time to time, they proved that they can be a very fun live band without literally having to dance into the front row every thirty seconds. Which is probably an advantage in certain scenarios.

No Romantics is still their catchiest, most exuberant and best song, even though the follow-up to Think, OCD Go Go Go Girls, is plenty melodic and exuberant. Lovvers can tend to fall below my radar, essentially because they’re English, but the gig was more than enough to make me search out the old promo CDs that first made me scratch my head and wonder if I liked them.

Times New Viking also once made me scratch my head and wonder aloud, “why don’t they just do it without the blanket of fuzz”. Those were famous last words before I noticed that Rip It Off was as good as it is regardless (or because of) the semantics of it. It married US slacker punk, Kiwi lo-fi and the sound of plugging a lead into the amp before the guitar. It’s carved out of pure, unadulterate punk noise like an impressionist painting, or more likely, a Jackson Pollock stinking equally of paint and piss.

Oh, Handjob Films has you covered again, by the way:

The time I reviewed Rip It Off for the unwieldly annual review project, my customary arguing-receptacle Dan claimed that “the three Vikings are complete chancers, and make both shallow pop and shallow noise music. And two shallows don’t make a deep end.” When Dan says things like that, it pains me 50% more than statements I disagree with normally pain me, because he always coats it so well in varnish, but nine months on, I still could not disagree more.

They’re not a power-trio because they’re not tight enough to be called a power-trio (even though they’re getting tighter each time), but there’s definitely too much sincerity and abandon about Times New Viking live to ever call them shallow. They just get drunk and play loud music. They don’t really bother with singing in tune because that would compromise the loudness and authenticity of their singing. Or something.

Their new album is, and it always hurts to say this but it’s sometimes necessary, NOT AS GOOD as the last one. But to be fair, it comes off much more immediate live than it does over fifteen recorded tracks. The energy in the room never dropped because they were playing a new song.

But guess what the highlights were. Yeah, you’re right. My Head. Faces on Fire. And the ultimate parting shot, the things-fall-apart communal noisy shout-fest that is End of All Things. When you actually have a song that refers to it being the end, it’s tough to follow it with an encore, and it’s even tougher when you’re battling an inevitable zombie-like swathe of weekend Shirts in Whelans, so there was no encore (much to the chagrin of certain booing gentlemen). But it didn’t matter.

One posi-fuzz-punk-fi band for twelve euro would be the going rate. Two feels like profit. More of this sort of bill, Foggy Notions.

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