Tag Archives: Adebisi Shank

The Year. 10-7

10. Adebisi Shank – This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank [IRL]

Okay, so everybody loves Adebisi Shank. They pack out the Button Factory, we all agree that they belong in this sort of list, and their songs sound bigger than France. But think about how strange that is for a minute. Conor O’Brien guests, but it’s a struggle to even figure out what’s him. The next closest thing to singing is monotone vocoding on Genki Shank. What’s relatable about antsy prog guitars? Or about anything? It’s not clear. My only guesses are stupidly abstract things like ‘saturated primary colours’ or ‘this song sounds a bit like Duplo’. It’s fantastical, and, conveniently for the purposes of this sentence, fantastic too. Micromachines plays like a song from the first album recut to soundtrack an adventure game. Genki Shank tumbles from neck-snap post-hardcore into Rocky Balboa territory. Bones is a Paul Simon song performed by a robot from the past programmed to simulate the future. And International Dreambeat, well that’s obviously a rainbow. This is a distillation of all the might of the first album, a bunch of dreams in 8-bit colour, all of Japan and the inner beauty of kitsch stuff most people like with a raised eyebrow. And this is a joke about this being a review of the second album by Adebisi Shank.
An interview I did in the first issue of TN2 I edited, pp. 6-7, plus a video of the infamous stage invasion at the launch in Whelans.

Adebisi Shank – International Dreambeat

9. Xiu Xiu – Dear God I Hate Myself [US]

Calling your album something this blunt is a pretty strong rebuff to a culture of ironic appreciation and knowing self-deprecation, especially if you have the kind of haircut Jamie Stewart has. So, with vocal intonation, confrontational lyrics, frantic meshes of blips, beats and guitar notes and doses of silence, Dear God I Hate Myself sets out to render unipolar depression into a form still roughly bound by the conventions of the pop song. Of course, this, or something approaching this, is what Xiu Xiu has been about for its entire existence. But this is somehow different to deal with. The thumb and index finger plucking of Hyunhye’s Theme, matched with chromatic flourishes and some Chinese strings, is a “you” song, a confused atmosphere for Stewart to inhabit while he writes his letter to a friend. But then comes the title track, probably the most accessible Xiu Xiu song in terms of its combination of sounding like a normal song and its being upbeat. It’s a strange combination, listening to “and I will never feel happy/and I will never feel normal” before being compelled to join in on the nigh-anthemic chorus. “Dear God, I hate myself.” For whatever reason, that moment breaks down some of this-is-weird barrier of unrelatability Xiu Xiu can carry, and that transfers to the whole album, making it probably the best of all eight.
Transcript of Totally Dublin interview from here, and controversial make-self-sick video.

Xiu Xiu – Dear God I Hate Myself

8. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening [US]

I had an argument about this album just after it came out. I was for it, my adversary was against it. For every point I made – less filler than previous albums, great individual tracks, James Murphy’s personality, Drunk Girls sounding like our mutual friends when they are, in fact, drunk girls – he held the exact opposite opinion. We agreed on one thing, though. Dance Yrself Clean. If there’s even been a reason to lament the process of opening shrink wrap, removing vinyl, putting it on a record player and sitting down to actually listen to it for the first time, Dance Yrself Clean is it. It’s not a grower. It’s there already. You turn it up loud, because it’s quiet, and Murphy starts to wax with a hint of dejection about socialising or whatever. Then it blows up. Sheets of synth and bass. One of those rare endorphin surges, like when In The Flowers pops or Mr. Grieves turns. It’s a fucking white marble sculpture of a song. And, despite the opinion of my friend, that’s not all that’s good about This Is Happening. Murphy’s on form throughout, whether complaining about Village Voice gossip columnist Michael Musso or love being like an astronaut. The beats are in the pocket, building slow and repetitive as they do, unafraid of overstaying their welcome. And they sound like his record collection, still. From this position, I can say ‘serious’ or ‘cop-out’ or ‘hard to define’. And I have done, in conversation, for months. If album-making, rock band-touring LCD Soundsystem does end up finishing here, it’s a good way to go.
Pitchfork interview and loads of fun Drunk Girls video.

LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean

7. Earl Sweatshirt – Earl [US]

Tyler, the Creator takes on the job of introducing his brother and newest OFWGKTA member Earl. “Earl, Earl say something. Trust me guys, he’s a rapper. Say something!” So he does. “I’m a hot and bothered astronaut crashing while jacking off to bufferin’ vids of Asher Roth eatin’ apple sauce.” Which is obviously a different way to embark on a rap career. As a debut album, Earl’s the equivalent of opening an Ikea flat pack and watching it turn into the Sagrada Familia without touching it. This kind of convoluted, sometimes forced DOOM-y rhyming seems like it shouldn’t be coming from someone young enough to be sent to boot camp by his mother for doing it, but there’s shit here that a polished 30 year old rapper couldn’t even dream of. Leftfield similes: “I’m attracted to you like teenyboppers to Apple Stores.” Cartoonishly provocatory pronouncements: “Wave hi to the Ritalin regiment, double S shit, swastikas on the Letterman bitch.” And yes, plenty of rape, both date- and otherwise. But the point is, this is the kind of imagination only one other dude in the world has anything similar to, and that’s his brother, who put his album out on Christmas Day 2009 and thus avoided this list narrowly. On that (Bastard by Tyler the Creator), Earl calls himself the reincarnation of ’98 Eminem. If Eminem was this weird, the last decade would have been a stranger place.
Download Earl and all the other OF shit for free at their site (at the top), and look at this.

Earl Sweatshirt – Earl

Essentially cheating.

So the internet at home doesn’t work, so I missed Lo-Fi Friday. Sorry, the entire genre of lo-fi. Instead of that, here’s a veritable plethora of live reviews I haven’t done, in very truncated form owing to fading memory. A few sentences each. Explanation for new readers: I review everything, so I have to do this whether you want it or not.

Swans: People seem to talk about Swans in “legend” terms, but while they do make physically affecting music, they take themselves awful seriously and aren’t as ‘experimental’ as they’re often talked about as being. Gira saying “Jesus Christ” blank-faced over the same chord every song was is faintly ridiculous, and arriving in something other than a black t-shirt made me feel a little awkward. Still, worth seeing.

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Xiu Xiu/Former Ghosts: Former Ghosts also required a suspension of disbelief, but unlike Michael Gira, it’s less difficult to feel like you’re pulling for Freddy Rupert. Highly strung, sometimes infectious, always energetic. Xiu Xiu were still as good as they were last time, and the noise-drenched Fabulous Muscles was unparallelled. The weight of sound and emotion that Jamie Stewart can get into the parts that are sound, and the desolate weight that he can get into the parts that are silence, is sheer and never not impressive, and even though they’re not a band, they’re one of the best live bands around at the moment.

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Adebisi Shank: Only got about 80% of this due to other commitments. It’s Adebisi Shank, so you’re assuming perfect game and then taking points off for flaws. The sound in the Button Factory wasn’t great, and Europa will never be their best song no matter how many times they say that from the stage. Still great.

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State vs. AU: Cloud Castle Lake were, as usual, hypnotic and excellent. Preferring their faster stuff, vaguely disconcerting and chaotic, to the slower stuff which is also good but closer to other stuff. Lowly Knights were a good ol’ nu-folk group of no note. Grand Pocket Orchestra I should stop talking about, but they’re on top of their game right now.

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I have a feeling I forgot something. Regular service tomorrow.

ADEBISI FUCKING SHANK

Eoin Beglin's illustration of Adebisi Shank for the first TN2 (out Tuesday).

So Nialler9 is five, and he celebrated his birthday with a State vs. Nialler9 night in the Mercantile. The Low Sea, Squarehead and TOP SECRET BAND played. Who attended? A veritable indie rock underground Hello magazine of band members, bloggers and generally recognisable faces. Who’s that pogoing down the front left? Why, Conor J. O’Brien of Villagers! And who’s that crowd-surfing like a mad yoke? That’d be Loreana.

Who were the secret band?

Well, if it wasn’t given away by the fact that @statemagazine tweeted something along the lines of ‘send us your set up’ to @adebisishank during the week, then it was given away by the idle chatter of basically everyone. It was Adebisi Fucking Shank.

The EP was good. The first album was really good. The second album is great. And the live show is fucking ridiculous. Standing outside in the sadly unpedestrianised Dame Lane, the crowd is called (or so it seemed from outside) with those few now-familiar blips and bloops. It speeds up. I get in. Then it explodes, Adebisi go nuts and the crowd do too. International Dreamboat. Sweat starts to pour, the vaguely hardcore-looking guys who are at the front of most Richter Collective events start punching air and snapping their necks, and everyone else gives it their best shot.

Some guitarists, you look at them and think ‘how the hell does he do that?’ With Lar from Adebisi Shank, that’s not the first thing that springs to mind. It’s more along the lines of ‘what the hell is he even doing? like he’s just holding the neck up in the air and there are 64 notes per beat coming from somewhere, I’m really confused.’ They set off loops at the beginning, but they’re tight enough to drown them out, then drop the guitar and bass and still be in sync.

They melt faces with some enthusiasm and no shame. It’s not something it’s even possible to represent in writing. It’s just a full body experience that makes you want to say things like ‘they ripped the arse out of the Mercantile’ or ‘they tore that shit down like the Berlin Wall’. They played maybe two off the first album plus International Dreamboat, Genki Shank, Masa, maybe something else and finally Europa. Nothing was less than wind-tunnel levels of great. You get the impression that it could be the Lower Deck or the O2 and Adebisi Shank would play the same.

They are the best band in Ireland at the moment.

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TDOM Day 27: A Song That You Wish You Could Play

Adebisi Shank – Colin Skehan

In my head, with my headphones in, walking somewhere, I am able to do this. The reality is very, very different.

The Year. 25-21

25. This Is The Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank
Richter Collective

Adebisi Shank emanate from one of the most productive scenes in Irish music, that of bands who seem to have spent adolescence listening to metal but have now discovered their inner maths geek. What sets Adebisi Shank apart from other purveyors of spastic, geometric rock is the direct connection between feeling and music. It’s like a print-screen of a hyperactive, manic depressive mind. They are not simply showing off rhythmic ability, rehearsing the different ways in which you can play fast in an unusual time signature. It’s much more measured than that. While at points, songs can seem like the individual band members are battling each other with their instruments, the whole is as tempered in its way as a piece of classical music. Nothing happens for longer than it has to, and the result is something intensely expressive and almost incandescent. I also saw, while sharemining for new music, a post on an American forum saying that this album was fantastic, and I felt a little happier in the knowledge that a song called ‘Mini Rockers’ is getting onto Floridian iPods. Fitting ambassadors.
This picture pretty much says it all, and then this collective commits it to wax.


24. Correcto – Correcto
Domino

Indie rock from the island of Britain is in ebb at the moment, and the cartoonised post-punk sound that launched a number of bands to the mainstream in the first half of the decade has tainted everything with its own descent into pastiche. That’s a pity, because Correcto, from Glasgow, make the kind of catchy but clever music that is almost ingrained enough in British music since 1976 as to be the new traditional at this point. On the upbeat songs, Danny Saunders’ flawed voice rides large Buzzcocks-esque guitars to places at least as interesting as the Postcard Records offspring of Glasgow circa 1980, and on the quieter arrangements he channels the pint-and-a-bag-of-crisps-at-the-battle-of-the-bands style of Half Man Half Biscuit. Self-awareness is the order of the day, with the self-portrait ‘Walking To Town’ carrying the refreshing admission “I look like a fucking goon”. Another perceptive observation on the next track: “No-one over thirty can do the Watusi”. And ‘Joni’ is one of the most criminally-overlooked pieces of pop genius in the last decade. A self-deprecating running commentary on popular culture is a welcome respite in a world where much of the good music is coming from the no-child-left-behind sincerity of North America.
Check out Joni if you haven’t heard its infectious strains, and then head to MySpace to commiserate with the band over the fact that no-one actually seems to care about them at all.


23. The Dodos – Visiter
FrenchkissI have never had much of a tolerance for Americana. Those straightforward, folky albums that tumble down through the filter of the make-or-break American indie axis have always been unavoidably naff to me, no matter how hard I tried to see what so many people were seeing. Years of this mean that I’m no longer excited by acoustic music. It needs to have a really big twist to win me over. The Dodos have. With an acoustic guitar and a drum kit, they paint layers and more layers, and then go digging in them for the elusive melody that no-one has found yet. The magically liberating tool that is the loop-pedal has been around for a while now, but few have avoided the potential for excessive meddling like Meric Long. His rapid strums, along with the outdoorsy drums of Logan Kroeber, provide a bustling backing for the introverted-extrovert songs he sings. The freak wins the battle with the folk, and the likes of ‘Red and Purple’ or ‘Fools’ are some of the most memorable songs of the year.
Ball it over to Pitchfork.tv for the fairly stunning video for Fools, and then stall the ball to Daytrotter for the old songs/new songs/demos/unreleased songs/explanations you’ve come to expect and love from them.

22. Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual
We Are Free
Ponytail are a band who have a lot of fun. This becomes immediately apparent at the 15 second mark, as Molly Spiegel releases forth a piercing, feral peal to conjure up the full glory of her Baltimore bandmates’ instrumental assault. Ponytail channel Cool bands like Sonic Youth and their lesser-known (or simply lesser) comrades at times, but they bring an enthusiasm to the table, often in the form of simply playing fast, that makes this effectively instrumental 8-song effort excitingly original. There is also a definite Japanophile tendency that goes a ways to explaining the unselfconscious mentalness of tracks like ‘Late For School’. It’s also fun to see that, just like post-Strokes bands began to show up in the aftermath of Is This It?, there is such a thing as post-Deerhoof in the world today.The cover art, trippy and hand-daubed, is a pretty good indication of how this sounds. But the real tell is the exclamation mark snuck in at the end of the title. ! pretty much sums it up.
Check Ponytail out on, looking exactly like they sound, on MySpace, and then check out the perpetually useful about.com for advice on how to sport your own.


21. Marnie Stern – This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That
Kill Rock Stars

More notes required. Exponentially more drums hit per bar required. More words per title required. Marnie Stern’s second album is an explosion of unrelenting excess from the first avalanche of music halfway through the opener ‘Prime’ to the last tapped arpeggios of closer ‘The Devil Is In The Details’. On first glance, Marnie’s music seems to reside in a bizarre psychedelic-perceptive cave within the milieu of Van Halen-esque classic rock, but better touchstones would be the life-affirming likes of The Mae Shi, the hemidemisemiquaver hi-hat proggishness of Battles, or the positive apocalypticism of Lightning Bolt. It’s rather refreshing to see guitar virtuosity of this magnitude attached to someone with their head in the real world. And though she has a tendency to declaim the poetry of whatever comes into her head, her stream of consciousness aphorisms make it all the more urgent.
Read Matthew ‘Fluxblog’ Perpetua’s interview with Marnie Stern at Pitchfork, then regret missing her kissing booth.