Monthly Archives: October 2009

Give Rack and Ruin some money

meaney

Dublin Duck Dispensary.

Porn (On Vinyl).exe.

A Series of Dark Caves.

America del Sur/Picayunes.

Do you know these artistes? Of course you do. Their music comes to you free across the internet, along with the music of a shitload of other bands I don’t have blog links for. It comes from Rack & Ruin Records, the world’s best free net label.

They don’t ask you for money. They don’t want it. They don’t even take a cut of physical stuff you buy off people via their site. But they do have server costs, and they need paying. In what is only my second charitable contribution of all time, I gave 10 euro in a fit of gratitude for the stuff they introduced me to.

You should give them some change if you have any coppers in your PayPal.

SUPPORT ART

I see rivers in my sleep they’re filled with blood

No Age

On Sunday I went to see No Age twice, because I’m a lady of leisure with nothing better to do than fuck up my hearing by over-exposure to loud noise.

One gig was in the Academy 2 at night time, the rescheduled version of the gig that would have been on in Crawdaddy on the Saturday night. Run of the mill. The other gig was in the Exchange. It was the second ever show there after Adebisi Shank with Find A Way the Friday before, and the first touring band. A touring band in the afternoon in Dublin’s sparkling new collective space. Exciting!

At the first couple of Exchange Audio meetings (i.e. the ones that I was at), and amongst my friends, there was always the whisper that if this thing got up and running properly, maybe No Age would play. It was specifically No Age. Because they’re from The Smell, they’re made of all-ages collective art spaces. It was the carrot on the end of the fishing rod, that Dublin could be a place that has a Smell, except a Smell that doesn’t smell and isn’t in a bad neighbourhood.

Well, they came. Despite being forced to pay exorbitant sums for flights after being stopped because of an excess of hand luggage (two bags instead of one) in a Norwegian airport, they seemed pretty happy to be in a place like the Exchange. I got the impression that it was one of the better things of its type they’d been in, which is the kind of thing that fills me with civic pride.

So, No Age are used to this sort of thing. But are we? Not really, yet. The Kids, who Exchange Audio is essentially for, weren’t out in force, really. It was mostly the same faces, but holding coffee instead of pints and in a definite Sunday afternoon mode, rather than an ebullient, youthful mosh-mode, despite the mild encouragement of Dean No Age.

The set was mostly from Nouns, and very loud. The police came. “Hello cops” – No Age, again, probably not the first time they’ve been told to turn it down in a “space”. Eraser, Miner – the closing two if I remember? – were both great. Teen Creeps, which was the opener and is one of the best songs of the decade (gonna phase in “of the decade” pronouncements for the rest of the decade), was underwhelming by virtue of lazily off-key vocals and something other missing magic.

It was good. How was the later gig in the Academy 2? Same, basically. No, it was actually just the same set, so there’s no “basically” required. They did an encore though, which some more of the same level of good.

Can you tell I’m not overwhelmed with joy and enthusiasm? I’m not sure why. I was really impressed when they played the Drowned In Sound thing last year, and I expected to be really impressed again, but I wasn’t. They were worth seeing. They were worth paying for once and seeing twice, even. But, whether it be because Venus is waxing and the stars are aligning against a certain type of music in the dark, spider-webbed corridors of my taste, or because they just weren’t as on it on the day, it just wasn’t as inspiring.

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This is not a Tumblr, but here is a quotation nonetheless #4

Someone will eventually try to synthesise synaesthesia. If it works, it’ll be called Synthaesthesia. I’ll receive royalties every time the term is used.

Hunter-Gatherer on the future of electronic music.

Missed out on the interview with H-G and Angkorwat when it originally went up about a week ago on totallydublin.ie. If you did too, click here.

Give me a visual on the Loch Ness

clues

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel like you have to qualify the fact that you like a band, but not THAT much? I hate having to do it, because liking music should be a positive, expressive thing rather than a quantitative, subtracting thing. But it does happen. It happened to my friends when I started getting stupidly into Wolf Parade, or Of Montreal, or whoever.

And it happens to me with the Unicorns. Because I have two friends who still post on a Unicorns forum. The Unicorns split up in 2004 and they only had one album, but whether it’s because of sample bias or something else, they seem to inspire some fervent love. I never felt that. I liked them, and I liked their demo album too in the same way that I would come to like the lo-fi pop that dominates the last year of posts here. But I wouldn’t charge through No Man’s Land to defend their honour. And I don’t like Islands very much at all, or at least not their second album.

That’s all left me feeling weird, because I got quite into the Clues album, and after this gig, I think I’m actually starting to develop that fervent attachment. I think I like Clues more than I ever liked the Unicorns. It’s not love, but it’s more than like. It’s like like (cf “rape rape” in Goldberg, 2009). Am I nuts? Am I the only one?

I showed up too late to see the Ambience Affair, in what is an ongoing, sitcom-style series of failures to watch them in a bar venue despite the fact that they play all the time and even support bands I’m going to anyway. Don’t give the dinner to the dog, guys, I will get there eventually.

Caught sight of Alden Penner, former Unicorn and lead Clue. It’s always weird to see the mythologised people in the flesh, but this was a particularly weird one. I suppose it’s not all that surprising that the former indie/baroque/toy pop tag team champion of the world would look both very young and very nerdy. But he was. In glasses, he was a Saved By The Bell geek. He took them off to perform though.

As with most bands on their first album, Clues pretty much just stuck to the script of the freshman effort. But how did it get so good? What’s there, that’s not on the already great record? I don’t know. Two drummers, maybe? Charisma? Volume?

Invocatory chords. “OUTWARD REACHING… EXPECTING HANDS!” and then a gap of about thirty seconds. Repeat a few times with different clarion calls, then drop into the languid riff. Toss around some chords for a minute. Then step into it. Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.

I’m talking shit. That’s Haarp, by the way, if you want to follow along at home. What else? Whole album, basically, like I said. If Haarp was first, what was last? Former Arcade Fire drummer Brendan Reed, standing up behind his drum kit and plaintively singing You Have My Eyes now with an outstretched open hand.

If You Have My Eyes now was last, what was best? Cave Mouth. 2009 is probably my favourite year of music in the history of art for art’s sake, but even if I have to dump out something by BATS or Lovvers or Grizzly Bear, I’m confident enough to say that Cave Mouth’s one of the ten best songs of the year. Made of indie pop not industrial steel, but fashioned out of the same massiveness as Die Slow, it’s a force.

I bought an album as well, and got it signed by Alden, who responded to my general awkwardness (still here after a couple of year, probably not going to go away) by just being the nicest and most conversational dude going. And I heard by the grapevine that Alden and Nick Thorburn (ex-Unicorns and guy who moans about bands in the blogosphere, now Islands) had been discussing sometime Those Geese public abuser Bobby’s interview and the micro-controversy about the video that it stirred up. That’s kind of cool, isn’t it? Like those scenes in the Odyssey or the Aeneid where it cuts to the gods having a debate.

Hard to find fault with this. Have to give two plusses.

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The Concise Hard Working Class Heroes Report

Photo by Yan Bourke.

Photo by Yan Bourke.

(This didn’t turn out that concise in the end, but it’s bullet-pointed so you can skim with relative ease. Longer, prose-form review coming on the Trinity News site on Monday, with more pictures.)

Friday

  • Not Squares (Academy 2) – Abstract, slightly surreal danceable post-punk electronics with shouting. Richter Collective fast becoming a seal of guaranteed quality.
  • Villagers (Andrew’s Lane) – There is a serious whiff of the pros off Villagers’ live set, something you could send to a foreign festival and be proud of. Dynamic stuff, and Conor’s personally crazily talented… one new song was a bit Counting Crows though.

Saturday

  • Villagers (Road Records) – The ultra-quiet, elegant side on show on the hallowed counter of Road. Again, Conor is an amazingly talented dude, but without the arrangements some of the songs are a TINY bit underwritten lyrically for my taste. Still a beautiful way to spend an early afternoon.
  • Gran Casino (Andrew’s Lane) – I’ve been familiar with Gran Casino since the Analogue compilation and the proto-Analogue TV gig doc they did, but this was my first time seeing them. Good, undeniable at times, but my feeling is that they’re ultimately stuck in a time-zone (Montreal, a couple of years ago) style-wise.
  • Adebisi Shank (Andrew’s Lane) – ADEBISI FUCKING SHANK. My face was hanging onto my skull by a few quivering sinews by the end of this. Un-be-lievable live band.
  • The Dying Seconds (Twisted Pepper) – I did pretty well at avoiding bands that were always going to be underwhelming (/crap, but underwhelming is softer and sounds less prescriptive than a straight denunciation), but I ended up sitting through the Dying Seconds. Uninspired, with delusions of something greater than their sub-Gibbardian wash with tacked-on “multi-instrumentalist” bits could ever deliver.
  • Hunter-Gatherer (Twisted Pepper) – The Hunter-Gatherer gig, starting at close to 2.30am on Saturday night, was a weird one. On one hand, it was great, the sleepy, ambient brilliance of his stuff coming through those clown-car speakers, and accompanied by some glow-stick dancing on the part of the artist himself. On the other hand, it wasn’t the triumphant wee hours set it could have been, because the crowd in large part didn’t stay around. Which is unfortunate, and not H-G’s fault, but these things all factor in.

Sunday

  • Tiny Magnetic Pets (Twisted Pepper) – Not a good band. Just a woman and a man doing an impression of a major label sort of Goldfrapp-type thing. Too sincere in its own lack of originality, and not for me, at all.
  • Only Fumes and Corpses (Andrew’s Lane) – Galway straight-up hardcore. Little to fault, really, with functional hardcore, apart from the fact that it is hardcore in the first place. As enjoyable as it could have been without the crowd that’s needed to receive the shoutings of their/any hardcore band’s singer.
  • Funeral Suits (Andrew’s Lane) – Now here’s the surprise of the weekend. Having mentally lumped the Funeral Suits into a Venn diagram based around the Brit definition of “indie”, I was taken aback by how much there is going on with them. It’s not Brit indie at all, not derivative of anything, it’s full to the brim with ideas and enthusiasm, and EVERY song is its own self-contained thing, worth following and listening to. When they do an album, it’s going to be really, really good. Potential buzz band. Mark it down.
  • 202s (Andrew’s Lane) – In the wake of the Funeral Suits, 202s came off a bit dishwatery. Some of their stuff has been interesting enough, but the overall impression I got was a little middle-of-the-road, or maybe just not as filled with new ideas as you might think on paper. There’s jangle-pop, there’s live electronics, but the synthesis doesn’t come off as well as could be hoped.
  • Super Extra Bonus Party (Andrew’s Lane) – I closed my HWCH review of Super Extra Bonus Party last year by saying I’d like to go see them again in a better venue than Meeting House Square. Well, I did. Bedded down as a five-piece at 1.30am in the only venue left open in the festival, they played a stormer. Songs off the second album, devoid of Cadence Weapon (who is from Canada, obviously) and Heathers (who actually played the festival), were infused with the energy of SEBP’s internal reactor, and really came to life. Mushie Shake has long been my favourite of their songs, and it was particularly effective, about 10 stone heavier and delivered with aplomb. Hard to think of a better way to end the festival.

Side-notes

  • So many photographers. Jesus Christ, like. Credit to Cormac SEBP for being the only person over the whole weekend to encourage normal punters to come up to the stage in spite of the Photographer’s Liberty that seemed to be in place in the front 5 feet of every venue.
  • Credit to Cormac SEBP also for closing proceedings with one of my favourite quotes of Irish music history: “This is what Hard Working Class Heroes is all about, getting FUCKED up on a Sunday night!”
  • Angela Dorgan, organiser, who I previously complained about on a podcast for asking me if I was 18 when handing out beer tokens at the festival launch (I’m 21), seemed lovely. Resentment over.
  • The photo exhibition remains a really good idea, but it’s not doing high-end photography justice projecting it onto a brick wall in Andrew’s Lane. Print the pictures, guys, and put them around the place.

Conclusion

As I have probably said multiple times in tangential, self-mythologising intros to live reviews, I set this blog up as a direct response to Hard Working Class Heroes 2007, and wanting to set down thoughts about all the different bands I was seeing for the first time. HWCH is still great for that. Maybe, now that I’ve been knee-deep in Irish music for a couple of straight years, it’s more of an opportunity to tick off bands I’ve been curious about (like Not Squares) or keep missing calamitously for a year (Adebisi Shank) than a true place of wide-eyed discovery. But that’s great too.

And it’s cool that someone like Hunter-Gatherer, entrenched in the true Dublin underground (it’s on the South Circular Road), can play the same festival as Only Fumes and Corpses, career hardcore dudes, or Villagers, who are basically major label-ready if they hadn’t signed to Domino already. It does what I’ve been vaguely trying to do with the Interview Project, with a little less selectiveness – it sets out everything relatively good going on this country, and lets you come to your own conclusion about trends, themes, or what it all means.

3 years down, and hopefully loads more to come.

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Sic Alps

sicalps

Okay, neglected this one.

Sic Alps in the Joinery with So Cow, Girls Names and No Monster Club. Another quick one for the records books:

No Monster Club started, being the next iteration of Dublin Duck Dispensary, whom I can now blog about because I’m no longer in them/it. Won’t say too much because of residual vested interest, but I thought it was good, new songs showing a subtly new, slightly more mature side. Less warm fuzz, but equally obscurant.

Girl’s Names are from Belfast and they represent a wing of this whole lo-fi thing that I never fully got behind, the Crystal Stilts/Crocodiles Faction, shall we say. 80s, reverby, trashy guitar music, but without even the occasional, cynicism-melting pop song Crocodiles boast. And they had the same, syncopated drum beat under every song. Not a fan.

So Cow is still So Cow. Notable things done: Tracy Ullman cover, new song.

Sic Alps were a little rangy for my tastes, but they were worth going to see once I think. They’re fuzzy, but they’re definitely not no-fork (sorry) in the way that lo-fi has been for the last year or two. It’s a more garagey, psychedelia-infused vibe, from guys who look like they’re generally too stoned to get their feet torn skateboarding when they could be playing garage rock. No major judgements either way, like I said, I enjoyed seeing them, but I haven’t been compelled to listen again.

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This is not a Tumblr, but here is a quotation nonetheless #3

‘It kind of does make me feel awkward. People are very used to talking about songs and articulating what they mean. I feel very anti-social or awkward not being able to explain things in the same way that other people do. I don’t know why that particular lyric occurs twice. I think that essentially I kinda ran out of material.

– Alden Penner, Clues on why he says “Who here wants to sleep in the dragon’s mouth?” in two different songs on the Clues album.

The interview’s up on State, and they’re playing upstairs in Whelans next week, everyone should come.