Tag Archives: Patrick Kelleher

Ghost-wop is now officially a thing.

It’s a time of celebration here in Those Geese dungeons. Finally, 2.5 years after it was initially mooted, ghost-wop is officially a real thing, with Patrick Kelleher set to release his tape of classic doo-wop covers for this Saturday’s Record Store Day.

It will be released on Long Lost Records, who have also got a tape by (We Are Loser/ex-Super Extra Bonus Party member) Adultrock and an album by Retreat From Moscow, all of which you can get in Elastic Witch at Twisted Pepper on Saturday. You can hear both of those things online and order all three straight from Long Lost, but if you do that you’ll miss free live shows by Girls Names and Simon Bird, both of whom feature in the Top Ten Irish Acts Right Now list I never have the balls to actually post.

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Here in my chest where you burst, I keep the crush and the weight of the world.

Sometimes a place develops a relationship with a band that’s beyond just being ordinary attendees of their gigs and listening to their music. To our eternal national shame, we made careers for Josh Ritter and David Gray by becoming strangely attached to their music when no-one else was. It’s not like Future Islands are that much more popular here than anywhere else, but I think both Dublin and Samuel T. Herring are aware that it’s a little different when they come here.

I don’t know what it is. I wasn’t at any of the previous gigs, so I couldn’t really speculate. When the guy said “we’ve been looking forward to this for a long time” he seemed unusually sincere for someone bloating up the home crowd’s ego. I think he was telling the truth.

Anyway, before talking about Future Islands there’s a few other things to countenance. This was my first visit to the Workman’s Club. Seems a decent place. The wooden floor makes a sound when you stamp on it, which is usually a bad omen, but the sound was fine and the size and shape of the place, with no bar in the actual venue area itself, is good. Tentative thumbs up to the Workman’s Club. Not a workman, but if I was I’d be proud to be associated with it.

The next thing: Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands. There’s minor meme status to the fact that they, along with Squarehead, play all the time, but I haven’t seen them in a long time. And they’re different now. Tighter, and any attempts to keep calling them ‘freak folk’ will fall flat. There’s a confidence to them, and their new, meatier stuff, obviously forking off from the last Ariel Pink album in certain cases, is excellent. Also, what we can probably confidently call the Album 2 iteration of the band, even though it’s the same, can’t help but benefit in some vague sense from the fact that most of them have some profile in their own right now – you’re watching Catscars, School Tour and Hunter-Gatherer formed like Voltron, not just the Cold Dead Hands.

One particular high point was the song where Robyn (Catscars) left the stage, watched from the floor, then came back up to do a falling piano version of some dubstep high-end over a huge climax. Paddy and Ger’s duelling vocals, too, brought a new energy. Going exciting places, this Patrick Kelleher.

So then Future Islands. Like I said, I haven’t seen them before. I came to Future Islands on their last album, In Evening Air, with the vague knowledge that they had this live reputation. At first I was confused. I’m pretty sure a lot of people are confused. Here’s this post-new wave synth stuff, vaguely fragile sounding and maybe even saleable if the right whining fringe sang over it. But then there’s Samuel Herring.

Uncanny, is a good word for his voice. It’s one of the knots to untie with Future Islands, the fact that he doesn’t speak like a semi-aristocratic mid-Atlantic school tie old boy. He does sing like one. But it’s so far gone it doesn’t feel like an affectation. It feels like a character, something to transform into to let out all these ultra personal emotions that come through their songs – unrequited love, fucking up, being far away and a lot of other sad things.

I’ve been doing a little thinking about characters as indie band singers lately, apropos Kevin Barnes’ attempt to explain that he’s not roleplaying as Georgie Fruit any more, but it’s still a character. Authenticity is one of the idols of this whole constellation of music, but punk’s not what it was in terms of influence, and the hyper-irony of self-consuming online hipster criticism is seeping into how bands approach what they do. I’m not suggesting that Sam Herring’s being ironic, because he’s probably not. He’s about as sincere a guy as you could find, down to the berserker chest-beating and the preparatory sad face he pulls during instrumental intros while he’s waiting to sing.

But it is still worth noting that, as far as my reading goes, he’s playing a character rather than just adopting a stage persona which everyone does to some degree (except Ted Leo, obviously). It adds a layer of distance between the audience and the performer to a certain extent, but it also makes it much easier on a personal level to engage with. Jamie Stewart rubs salt in his own wounds without the redemptive power of a totem character to project through. He’s hard to watch. There’s none of those moments of sunken stomach empathy and despair with Future Islands, sad as they are. In a sense, Herring and the audience experience the same character, and it’s cathartic for everyone.

This could all be bullshit, but it’s fun to think about. Without any of that stuff, this was a gig par excellence, paced a little poorly but made of great songs, enthusiastic performance and a crowd as open as you will find in Dublin short of the youth crew at their favourite band in Marlay Park. When beats dropped, people bounced. Bounced. Not shuffled awkwardly, but actually dipped in height and returned to their original height in time with the music. That was fun.

Worth not fixing my phone for three extra days. Also at this point a shout out to my cousin whose antics at the last Future Islands gig are apparently ‘infamous’ according to the singer, from the stage, while introducing the song her infamy was cemented during, last time.

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The Year. 8-6


8. Patrick Kelleher – You Look Cold [IRL]

In July I called You Look Cold “as frozen and synaesthetic as anything you’re likely to hear this year”, as if frigidity and synaesthesia were primary criteria in anyone’s taste checklist. Not that I want to retract or anything. It crunches underfoot as you listen to it, definitely, and it recalls maybe the smell of mouldy wallpaper or overheated chips from toyshop Casios. The delivery changes from song to song. Until I Get Paid is some exceptionally bizarre ghost doo-wop, where Wintertime’s Doll is a creaky, spacious dirge and Blue Eyes is threateningly sinister accelerando analogue electronica. But what binds them is the juxtaposition of metronome beats from evidently cheap instruments with lush, considered layers, icy futurism, dusty pastism and an ability to deliver a song without a blink. Genre-wise, you could throw prefixes (kraut-, freak-, prog-) or suffixes (-folk, -tronica) at this all you want and never end up within fifty miles of accuracy. This is a step forward.

A swathe of stuff from here including pictures, a bootleg and an interview, and an interview from Totally Dublin done in the nice park behind Whelans.


7. The Antlers – Hospice [US]

With every physical copy of Hospice comes a small booklet, eight pages long. On the front is a stylised caduceus, symbol for medicine, in black on a plain white background. It’s perfect, far better than the cartoon hands on the actual album cover, because it’s so economical. There is mostly just white space, like the music. But in the centre is a symbol, a lead to something more. And it’s the caduceus which, long story short, is a symbol that has only come to represent medicine because of a continuous, historically cemented misuse. Which is really almost too perfect to be true for Hospice. Because it’s an album about a hospice, right? About a dying loved one, maybe a relative or a lover? It perfectly evokes the hopelessness and helplessness of those dying days, if you’ve ever experienced them, it goes through the gamut of guilt, anger, desperation, etc. That’s what the lyrics in the book are about, that’s what the spare, resonant music recalls. But scratch closer. Hospice isn’t about death. It’s about love, or the death of love. As a song-cycle, it’s a work of fiction up there with a well-wrought novel. At a casual listen, it’s just deeply moving music.

Totally Dublin interview I was late for with Mr. Peter Silbermann, or their MySpace where old EPs are free.


6. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest [US]

Grizzly Bear is a band with talent, in the traditional, conventional sense. They can all sing pin-point harmonies, they have a knack for arrangement swinging from lush to austere, and above all, they know how to hit a high-point. If a lesser band were equipped with the tools Grizzly Bear have, Veckatimest would be nothing more than loud-quiet-loud with clarinets. But that’s not what it is. It’s sensitive, incredibly careful, constructed with considerable thought and artifice. With creaky attics drums and a reverberating guitar, they build a new, dusty house on the shore, like Yellow House before it. But they shine light in differently this time. At once using a wider lens and more detail, Veckatimest’s caution is what makes the peaks when they come. The human foil to 2009’s insinuated strangeness, Grizzly Bear are not mad experimenters, but carriers of song. So, when the truly transcendent moments do come – and they do, signalled for example by the oscillating organs at 1.45 in Ready, Able – a very specific picture locks in mind. Four men on the Atlantic coast trying to row a wooden row-boat to the cosmos.

An old post partly about how good Grizzly Bear are, and them being too pure for words on Pitchfork.

Patrick Kelleher live outdoor doo-wop set

This is one for collectors. It’s a bootleg of a doo-wop set by Patrick Kelleher at the all-day 10th Box Social over the summer. It might be the moment ghost-wop was formed. Picture’s a link.

From Digestion Machine, which is the blog of a man you might also know as Porn On Vinyl/Hipster Youth.

Mercury Maybes

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The blogosphere is ablaze today with speculation on the shortlist for the Mercury Prize. Nialler9 has some ruminations up, taking into account the apparently automatic annual folk and urban nominations, and culminating in a ballsy prediction of a final twelve.

Some other blogs, such as Clash Music and The Line of Best Fit have also had a go as part of some sort of loosely organised BBC scheme. I got very interested, and for once, I think I’ve heard enough UK/IRE music to come up with a my own list. So I’m going to have a go as well.

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Box Social in pictures

Last Saturday, the Box Social celebrated its tenth gig with a mini-festival stretching from mid-afternoon to late night and taking in everything from the could-not-be-further-off-kilter Ewa Gigon‘s vocal loops and semi-spoken word admonishments to an acoustic set from Crayonsmith, a doo-wop set from Patrick Kelleher, a great sitting room show from Hunter-Gatherer and some feral music from Children Under Hoof. Plus loads more. Here’s a few pictures by Laura Gilsenan to either show you what you missed or remind you of what you saw:

Ewa Gigon

Ewa Gigon

More after the jump

Interview Project #3: Patrick Kelleher

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“Somewhere far below the dross infested peak of Mount Delorento, strange and wonderful rumblings are now emanating from the Irish underground.” – Gardenhead, Analogue Magazine.

Patrick Kelleher is an experimenter/freak folkist/sonic mood adjuster originally from Glendalough, Co. Wicklow but now holed up in 236 South Circular Road, home of the Box Social. His debut album You Look Cold has just been released on Osaka Recordings and it’s genuinely one of the most exciting bodies of work to emerge from an Irish artist in recent times. Combining frosty electronica, worn-sounding lo-fi acoustic efforts, a dollop of drone and stacks of tense energy, You Look Cold will at the very least serve as an indicator of how wide a palette of sounds you can get away with using in the process of making a unified album. You will find him at the aforementioned Box Social on June 14th, and launching his album at the Academy 2 on June 18th

Patrick Kelleher – Wintertime’s Doll

Patrick Kelleher – He Has To Sleep Sometime

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Q 0.5 How are you?
Very well thanks.

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