Tag Archives: So Cow

The Year. 4. And the No campaign in my head, taking over.

4. So Cow – Meaningless Friendly [IRL]

In interviews when he was in The Smiths, desperately concerned with creating an image, Morrissey used to talk about happy songs with sad lyrics. Most of what So Cow plays has a major key vibe, traced directly from antecedents in 90s indie rock, 80s and 70s power pop and even 60s garage rock. And most of So Cow sings has a sense of sadness, struggle or misunderstanding to it. There’s plenty of humour too, both that which comes from the aforemnetioned juxtaposition, like singing a break-up song with a singalong chorus about the billboard that overlooked it (Moon Geun Yeung), and that which is just patently ridiculous, like singing about the amount of Helens on your street (One Hundred Helens).

That’s the story of Meaningless Friendly. A collection of fun, catchy, garage pop with words that make you laugh a little and cry a little. Everything sounds a bit bigger and a bit better than it did before, to the extent that one negative review even claiming that it “reeks of over production”. It obviously doesn’t. But it’s more consistent, louder than anything that came before, and album that feels like it’s, as Cloud Nothings put it, made with an audience in mind. It’s as ambitious as you can get within the confines of still sounding like you’re just having fun.

The most obvious example of this is International Waters, which is the longest song on the album by about three and a half minutes. It’s an epic. It starts with a fisherman, “off out with my net”. Trying to feed his family. Things start going well, and soon get out of hand. Buys a van. Sells his fish in the marketplace. Gets a bigger boat. Tries to run for mayor. Van breaks down. Starts drinking a lot. It’s hard not to laugh at that moment, the turn, where the guy takes the illogical leap of running for mayor, and inevitably has his life fall apart in front of him. It’s apparently a treatment of the insane Korean drive for success. It’s absurd, hilarious, and sounds a bit like The Who if The Who were from Galway and into the music people who weren’t quite The Who made in their garages after listening to The Who.

The short songs (which is obviously every other song) are just as endearing, if a little less spellbinding. I’ve Got A Horrible Feeling is a Television Personalities-type song about not falling in love “in rural night clubs that smell of chips”. Random Girls has an attention deficient riff and no time for anything not devoted to the overall goal of being the catchiest song in the room. The Tony Keady Affair is about the time Galway hurler Tony Keady got suspended for a year, ruining Galway’s chances in the All-Ireland, while So Cow in short trousers fails to impress a girl with Gorbachev on TV in the background. Hell is in Korean, not gonna guess what it’s about.

The last album was a compilation of years of recording. It was effectively a greatest hits. It was going to be difficult to match on what will be effectively the “sophomore” record to a lot of people. But how could you doubt? It’s better than the self-titled, more together (obviously), but also more self-confident and more sonically mature. It’s got weird chord changes coming out of its ears and, as referenced previously, lyrical matter that it’s probably fair to call “off-beat” or even “quirky” (and at times “local colour”). It’s sadder, but it’s more fun. It really does feel like an artist hitting that purple patch where they couldn’t avoid putting out great music if they wanted to.

Video from a show at South Street Seaport in New York, featuring me in the crowd, if you know what I look like, and the So Cow concept album about Tuam, Co. Galway.

So Cow – Random Girls


So Cow at South Street: video evidence that it happened.

Here’s a short film of the South Street Seaport day I didn’t even review a few weeks ago. If you look closely at about 3.20 (I think) you might see your humble blogger making a fool of himself in a crowd largely less pleased to be hearing Greetings.

So Cow compendium

Falling behind. So far behind. Still to come before the blog is back up to date: Caribou on Governor’s Island, Siren Festival (featuring the Pains, Holy Fuck, Surfy Bloods, Ponytail and some anecdotes), The Antlers in Hudson River Park (not a real park) and Best Coast at the Seaport, plus a comprehensive ranking of the colas available in New York City, and a link to a new mixtape for Quarterinch Collective.

This post, however, is technically a So Cow review from their show at South Street Seaport. I think if I reviewed So Cow any more than I’ve already reviewed So Cow, the universe’s fuse would blow, so I’ll just leave some information here for those American Googlists and link-followers who’ve been showing up every now and then trying to find out more about Ireland’s greatest living distortion pedal solo-doer/mild humourist.

Free Music
So Cow has the following albums: Meaningless Friendly (2010), So Cow LP (US compilation, 2009), I’m Siding With My Captors (2008), These Truly Are End Times (2007). But on top of this he has some free stuff. Here it is.

So Cow – Tuam The Album
So Cow – Second Covers EP
So Cow – First Covers EP
A mixture of stuff from WFMU’s Free Music Archive

Album Reviews
These Truly Are End Times (22nd best of 2007)
I’m Siding With My Captors (7th best of 2008)
Wackity Schmackity Doo (best homemade stapled-together CD-R of 2008, guest-reviewed by Bobby)

Misc. stuff
Interview with Brian So Cow
Mini-documentary/performance video type thing by Analogue
The time it was exciting that Pitchfork reviewed the compilation LP
The time Korea got excited about So Cow’s song about Moon Geun Young.
For live reviews, follow the tags.

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.


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.

TDOM Day 18: A Song That You Wish You Heard On The Radio

So Cow – Random Girls

Etc etc – Brian Kelly – obligatory acknowledgement that I do this all the time – attempt to impress on everyone the importance of So Cow – some kind of Dublin-centric joke about Tuam – etc etc – really good.

For fresh So Cow related doe-eyedness, watch Nialler9’s Getting People To Name The 5 Irish Acts They’re Excited About in coming days. For old So Cow related doe-eyedness, click the tag.

Hello Koreans who still arrive sometimes via Google. Hope you are well.

…and (I’ve been waiting my whole life to say this) photo via the Cobrasnake.

Dunno what the hell to do!

This is the front and back cover of Meaningless Friendly by So Cow, which comes out in two weeks in time for SXSW for some reason.

So Cow, featuring Mk. III line-up of Brian, Jonny and Gareth Averill (alias Great Lakes Mystery) on drums, are currently in New York, as far as I can tell. Last night they played a gig in a bowling alley or something. Catch them in an American town near you, if there are any American towns near you.

Coming soon: Q Magazine-style consideration of the album, track for track.

So Cow In The Sitting Room

Eight months ago, So Cow made an excellent covers EP (in a shed) and put in online for free, showing an ear for a lesser-spotted tune and applying his own stylistic brush to what he came up with. Now, he’s done another one.

Here’s what’s on it:

1. queen of eyes (the soft boys)
from Underwater Moonlight, 1980, matador records.

2. lee remick (the go-betweens)
from ’78 til ’79 the lost album, 1999, jet set records.

3. runaway (del shannon)
from any number of compilations of the greatest songs of all time.

4. meet the beatle (tall dwarfs)
from the sky above the mud below, 2002, flying nun records

5. laundry service (local living guy)

6. manekin (amature amplifier)
from soo sung land, 2009, http://amatureamp.wo.to/home.html

7. jenny (i love jh)
from I Love JH, 2006, espousal records

8. animal song (shonen knife)
from burning farm, 1983, oglio Records

Click to download


Oh and also… first all-new So Cow studio album since 2008, Meaningless Friendly, is out in February 2010 on Tic Tac Totally.