Tag Archives: Battles

Them’s The Vagaries: The Vagaries So Far

Them’s The Vagaries is still powering onwards, with occasional A-list guests and lots of talk about music and pop culture from two people who are dripping swagu. One is still me, and the other is still Seán McTiernan, presumed to be the only person in Kilkenny’s storied history who has heard of Stresmatic. We make jokes and care deeply about music, usually simultaneously.

Catch up, or if you haven’t listened, pick an episode you like the look of.

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Episode 12: Be Careful What You Wish For… – with Darragh McCausland of Asleep On The Compost Heap (and Come Dine With Me). Internal machinations of Come Dine With Me, sex talk, pork cheeks, Grizzly Man, anime soundtracks and some 2011 music talk. There is also a 20 minute section where we review eight types of sour sweet available in Dublin City Centre. Interval entertainment is “Dear 16 Year Old Me” by the Silly Beggar dudes.


Episode 11: The Haunted Mask – The music of 2011 so far, taking in:
[non-raps] Fucked Up, Drainland, Tim Hecker, Iceage, Celtic Frost, Squarehead, Grinderman, Hauschka, Hunx and His Punx, Vivian Girls, Smith Westerns, Nicolas Jaar, John Maus and Toby Kaar
plus
[raps] Tyler, the Creator, Kanye, Jay-Z, Jay Electronica, Envy, Kreayshawn, Elzhi, DJ Quik, Young L, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, E-40, Das Racist, El-P, Clams Casino, Araabmuzik, oOoOo, G-Side, Main Attrakionz, Spaceghostpurrp, NoEmotion, Cadence Weapon, Shabazz Palaces, Action Bronson, Rittz and, apropos of nothing, a lot of me talking shit about A Tribe Called Quest.


Episode 10: The Ghost Next Door – with Orla Ryan, who has a secret job and was a recurring favourite on Seán’s old podcast Ah Here (which you can make him send you if you want – sean mc tiernan at gmail dot com). We talk about Battles and Aphex Twin’s riders at Forbidden Fruit, Sufjan Stevens’ spaceship live show and Jim Corr being a fucking nutcase, plus more.


Episode 9: Welcome To Camp Nightmare – with Megan Nolan, stand-up comedienne, former DJ of a hip hop duo and general woman about town. We talk about her life as the slapsifier of a rap group, music we had forgotten about and terrible racist jokes on the underground comedy circuit.


Episode 8: The Girl Who Cried Monster – in the only episode apart from the first one to take place indoors, we occupy the Arts Block of Trinity on a day on which it was only open so tourists could use the toilet. We talk Irish-themed punk, pro wrestling (specifically Botchamania), DJ Quik and Suga Free being god-tier, the Pitchfork movie, Anal Cunt, David Norris, Gerry Ryan and Beepy Fallon.


Episode 7: The Night of the Living Dummy – Forbidden Fruit festival analysis, an anecdote about Sean’s dad and gigs and getting pissed on, Neutral Milk Hotel, Big and Rich, Kanye’s Monster video, Ian Svenonius, Ian Mackaye and Henry Rollins.


Episode 6: Let’s Get Invisible – We talk about old music on the occasion of Bob Dylan’s birthday. Bruce Springsteen and Stephen Fry denounced as mark ass bitches by me and Sean respectively.


Episode 5: The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb – Macho Man, Kreayshawn, violent films, how to recommend stuff to people, pogs, etc.


Episode 4: Say Cheese And Die! – RZA’s movie, professional wrestling, idiots dancing to Shellac, De La Soul, Animal Collective, etc.


Episode 3: Monster Blood – Odd Future (the week Goblin came out and thus the last time all conversation centred around Tyler), the Prince Disagreement, The Beatles, Westwood, drops on rap mixtapes, etc.


Episode 2: Stay Out Of The Basement – covers of rap songs both good (jazz trio Odd Future) and bad (steampunk), Obama burning Trump, the freemasons, etc.


Episode 1: Welcome To The Dead House – Earl Sweatshirt being found, Nardwuar being great, the Led Zeppelin Disagreement, etc.

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The Year. 10-6 (getting there)

10. Battles – Mirrored
Warp

If Battles are math rock, then they’re bringing more emotion to the subject than my (thankfully over) sixteen years of immersion in the subject led me to believe it was capable of. Plus, only some of their songs have ridiculous time signatures. So let’s dispense with that. Mirrored is probably the closest thing to progressive music I’ve ever actually enjoyed and it is all pinned around a rock solid core of instrumental virtuosity. Seeing it live at Lowlands opened my eyes properly to Battles, because I could see these four guys standing on the huge stage with instruments in hands, playing really complex and impassioned music at a rate of about 400 notes a second – and staying completely within the lines, so to speak. Tightest band I’ve ever seen. The album drips of that tightness, the live interplay of these four virtuosos. But it is catchy as all fuck too. From Race In to Leyendecker (Side A, in the words of our ancestors), there isn’t a song that doesn’t lodge itself somewhere in the brain. And it will sound original for about 50 years. I guarantee it.
An interview in which Battles describe their music better than anyone else, and their vowelless website which is secretly just a link to their MySpace.

9. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Anti

Sounding like The Beatles has been a successful and sometimes musically worthwhile endeavour for countless bands from the 1960s onwards. When I first heard Spoon, around the time of Kill The Moonlight (two albums ago) when they were supporting Interpol at the Olympia, I thought they were taking it a little bit too far. Time, though, has revealed their subtleties to me. Britt Daniel has been doing what he does for a long time now without any spectacular innovation, but the songs seem to get slightly better every album, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is their best so far. They’re pretty big in America but I’m not sure how far they’ve pervaded into the indie consciousness around here. It doesn’t really matter. The songs all sound like singles, without exception, and far from being The Texas Beatles, Spoon have pretty much eked out a space for themselves completely outside what other people are doing. It’s hard to pick highlights, but You Got Yr Cherry Bomb was #16 in the American Hot Press’ top 100 songs of the year. High praise for independent band.
Many songs on MySpace (though not the one I just let Rolling Stone recommend) and PopMatters gives a comprehensive (i.e. long) review.

8. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Fargo

My fourteen year-old brother asked me today if “these bands just make up a load of words and then put music to them”. Ignoring the fact that this is at least the second most common way of writing music in Western culture, I answered “no”. But I understand what he meant. I was listening to Armchair Apocrypha, The whole album, more than any of Bird’s previous stuff, is a testament to how well read he is, how naturally lyrical he is and most of all the sense he has for finding songs in unusual places. Some of the rhymes on Imitosis are more complex than incredibly rich rap stars, and Scythian Empire deserves some sort of prize for best song based on a Pontic tribe ever written. In fact, there should be a Grammy for that category. In seriousness though, Armchair Apocrypha is musically and lyrically complex while staying accessible at all times, and it is a beautifully noble-sounding listen. Perhaps the only album of 2008 that makes you feel like your IQ is higher every time you finish it.
Read up on the actual Scythian Empire on Wikipedia and then fly to Andrew’s website for a well-stocked A/V section.

7. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Paw Tracks

Pure as the driven snow. I read somewhere (everywhere) that Panda Bear sounds like Brian Wilson on LSD. Am I the only person in the world that was under the impression that Brian Wilson was on LSD? Maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was just crazy. Panda Bear’s not crazy though, and he’s also not on LSD. Through sampling, but mostly through his super-soaked vocal layers, he presents the melodies children sing to themselves in playgrounds, the purest, most beautiful music. Animal Collective is Avey Tare’s band, but Person Pitch proves that Panda Bear has his own completely distinct picture to present to the world. It doesn’t sound like Animal Collective in a specific sense, even if they’d be stocked in the same section of a very sub-genred record store. It’s angelic stuff, and it kept me dry and happy on many wet and depressing winter mornings going to college. I have regular revelations listening to this, and it would be higher if not for the slight repetitiveness late on and the quality of some other albums released this year.
MySpace about Panda Bear, and a website about panda bears

6. Liars – Liars
Mute

(I’m going to do this one Said The Gramophone style). A Sunday afternoon , waking up hungover, you walk down the stairs, pour a glass of milk and make for your couch. The sun’s shining in the window, so your sore limbs and pinched forehead don’t bother you so much. You lie down and drink your milk. Finishing up, you look for the remote. It’s beside the television. What is the point of a remote control if it’s left beside the TV anyway. Your body has just adjusted to the couch and is refusing to get up, so you sit there quietly. There’s no-one around. Everyone in the house has gone out. The radio is seeping in vaguely from upstairs somewhere. The sunlight is still beaming in at first, but time passes quickly and the short winter afternoon starts to grey. It gets darker and darker, but you stay sitting on your couch, staring at the blank TV. The curtains are open, but you can’t see anything from where you’re lying. It’s raining, probably. That is what this album sounds like.
The video for the tour-de-force first track on YouTube and the website.