Monthly Archives: May 2010

Delocated.

Gone to New York. Will probably see you around the internet though, because that’s where we see each other mostly anyway.

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Interview Project #23: Jogging

Jogging have just released their debut album, Minutes, on Richter Collective. Some verbs you could use to describe it are: blistering, gutsy, energetic. The band consists of Ronan Jackson (who answered the questions) playing bass, Darren Craig on guitar and Peter Lee on drums. If Minutes isn’t the best Irish album released this year, then it’s definitely in the top three. There’s something going on in terms of a revival or reinterpretation of straight-up, Dischord-type 90s music right now. About time.

Jogging – Threadbare
Jogging – Bruises Like Bow Ties

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Q 0.5 How are you?

Pretty good, thanks. Pretty buzzed that the album is out. It was always our intention to get one out quickly so am delighted that we did.

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Duck, duck, duck, duck…

Fun stuff coming soon when bandwidth resets. Until then, it’s a goose.

So Cow in Tuam

Guess what just surfaced?

Yup, it’s So Cow’s concept album about Tuam, recorded some time last year. Not being from Tuam is a disadvantage when listening to this, but James Joyce is big in Iran, so give it a shot. You might recognise Girl Racer as an early version of the track of the same name that appears on Meaningless Friendly.

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1. (I Wanna Go To The) Sugar Factory
2. Girl Racer
3. I Wanna Burn Down Pearse Stadium
4. Do You Remember DH Burkes
5. Byrne’s
6. Palace Grounds (Shut Them Down!)
7. T.U.A.M.
8. Two Cathedrals

Check out So Cow in a shed and in a sitting room doing covers, or this interview, while you’re about.

Fire in the hole, fire in the hole, fire in the hole.

I can’t be the only person who was surprised to hear that Wolf Parade had announced another gig in Vicar Street. At the time, the now-leaked third album Expo ’86 wasn’t even a twinkle in Sordo’s eye. You don’t test new material at Vicar Street. Vicar Street, by virtue of its capacity, will give you a crowd who are doe-eyed and forgiving, but ultimately there for the hits.

I wasn’t even going to go, which, if it’s not a sign of the times, is at least an indication of the extent to which they have been pushed to the margins since acquitting themselves splendidly on the tour for the not-as-good At Mount Zoomer in 2008. Apologies To The Queen Mary is still a monument and a great album, but Mount Zoomer requires patience and a sieve, and all indications were that the new material was going to be outlandishly proggy in a testicular 70s prog kind of way rather than Sunset Rubdown’s meticulousness (Spencer), or just bad (Dan).

But hey, circumstances conspired.

Contrary to precedent, Dan was looking healthy and energetic. In keeping with the trend, but maybe to a greater extent than anyone could have been expected to anticipate, Spencer was hammered. They played a lot of the new record, and a mix of the older two, and were apologetic, which is a strange dynamic to have when your band has become more meaty than any of the original post-Arcade Fire curious listeners would probably have put up with at the time.

Some of the new ones were good. Spencer’s had elementally heavy bass, executed on his keyboard. Dan had one good one, and one that was probably the worst thing in Wolf Parade’s canon to date.

As for old songs, it’s impossible to fault I’ll Believe In Anything, because it’s one of the greatest things ever constructed. But Shine A Light, as part of the encore, was disappointing on a couple of unsettling counts. 1. Dan Boeckner messed up the words in front of a room in which probably 50% of people could have given them to him with exact cadence. 2. Spencer was just-take-him-home-to-bed drunk, or stoned, or something, and while he was playing a keyboard part in the right key, it wasn’t actually the keyboard part from Shine A Light. Which was confusing.

The last song of the encore, Kissing The Beehive, outstripped any of the new prog and brought the gig to a pretty impressive climax, but there were a lot of questions.

It was an enjoyable gig. It was Wolf Parade, for one. But their Album 1-Album 2-Album 3 trajectory is looking worryingly like the Strokes’, and it’s been clear for a while that Spencer’s best stuff is going elsewhere. And there is a definite point when you become Too Drunk to perform to that many paying attendees. It’s a point at which you have to ask exactly why Wolf Parade exists when it’s clearly creatively a side project for 50% of members. Expo ’86 will get to speak for itself in response to that, but early signs aren’t all that great.

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This Is The Sound Of No One Giving A Shit

So there I am at 7pm, sitting in front of Double Dagger, from Baltimore, Maryland, asking them who their favourite Wire character is. I have a very limited number of interview moves. More on that soon

Sometimes you build gigs up months in advance, looking at setlists and live videos, listening to early EPs and B-sides, trying to make sure you have your own enjoyment covered from every possible angle. But other times you don’t. Other times you only discover a band exists about 24 hours before they’re due to play, but they sound good, so you go see them play upstairs in Whelans.

When this happened with the Mae Shi, it started a long, fruitful relationship with the band and even wove a new strand in the spider-web of vague ‘types’ of music I spend time finding out about. It happens at things like HWCH and other festivals a lot too. But it’s still great, in the same way that meeting someone new and interesting is great: you can’t anticipate it happening, but when it happens, it just makes sense.

So there was Double Dagger. There’s only three of them, a drummer, a bassist and a singer. It’s actually visually jarring to see a band without a guitarist or at least a keyboardist, like you’re looking at the skeleton of a band, missing the bits that normally make melody or texture. But they don’t need that.

They go with the loud-quiet-loud formula. Nolen Strals, a man who chooses to perform without his very thick prescription glasses most of the time, talks the verses while the bass and drums hang back a little. He literally grabs members of the crowd to tell them things, whilst singing. “The stage is a lie”, he says at one point, in the kind of weary way you’d say it if you’d been saying it for a decade and no-one had believed you yet. Then a pedal is stepped on and the bass becomes what three guitars are for Built To Spill. Or maybe not.

They make lots of noise, but there is never a note wasted, because there can’t be. One guy (Bruce Willen) is responsible for all of the music except drums at any given time, and because Strals might not even be singing a melody at any given time, this means everything follows him. It’s the power-trio thing taken to the next level. It could fuck up badly, but it doesn’t.

The songs are imperatives to do stuff, all about wasted time, boredom, death and repetition. They work. Not many people saw Double Dagger in Dublin, but if everyone who did kicked everyone except the bassist, drummer and singer out of their band, we might have the start of something a bit weird, at least.

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Guess who was filming it.

(honorary mention to Guilty Optics, who were pretty good too)

Last While Omnibus: Ex-magician, still knows the tricks.

Another thing I went to in The Last While was Pavement, predictably enough. I would have been to see LCD Soundsystem too, but Iceland’s greatest PR disaster since the slave trade back in Viking rumspringa days managed to passive smoke that out of existence. I’m kind of glad I left it a while to write about it too, because the general consensus in my vicinity was something between “OMFG” and “that was, without a doubt, the greatest gig I have ever seen”. It wasn’t the greatest gig I have ever seen.

It was obviously brilliant though. It’s Pavement. 99% of bands in existence could play the most flowing, energetic, perfect gig possible and still not come close to Pavement because they’re not painting with a palette that has Grounded and Trigger Cut on it.

They walked out. Everyone looks pretty much delighted except for Malkmus, who is dressed as a teenager and looks about as excited as the kid who has discovered Nirvana but still managed to get hoodwinked into playing guitar for the school choir. But that’s fine. That’s what he’s always looked like. It’s not like he wrote literally 100% of the band’s good songs or anything. Not like it should be his victory lap.

Things ranged from fun to coronary-inducingly brilliant, with my particular favourites being Summer Babe and Grounded. Sometimes they weren’t that tight, but if they were tight, they wouldn’t be Pavement. Sometimes they played songs that were just Bob Nastanovich shouting, but if they didn’t do that, they wouldn’t Pavement.

They picked the right amount of time to stay away, they came back, and by the looks of Malkmus (who does a good impression of a sloppy guitar player even after ten years in which he was publicly doing proper musicianliness with the Jicks) they probably won’t be doing more music. The Pixies method. If I could see them again before they slumped to the Grey Havens, I’d be delighted.

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