A successful week for Irish music all-round! Firstly congratulations to Jape on winning the Choice Music Prize – many have already said it went to the nicest man in Ireland and of those on the final shortlist, he was certainly amongst the most deserving. Halfset made a really good album and R.S.A.G. certainly set tympanics trembling with Organic Sampler but in the end the award went to one whose music played truly massive role in 2008. Despite fear and suspicion on the night due to the presence of David Holmes and The Script, Richie Egan is now wealthier to the tune of ten thousand fruits and a smooth celebratory trophy declaring Ritual the most critically-acclaimed Irish album of 2008. Thank you Jape.
There’s an interview with Choice founder Jim Carroll over on Analog. It’s a decent read…have Phantom really been binning bands’ CDs? In this age of carbon neutrality I thought unwanted promos found a home in charity shops. It’s all a wicked lie!
Salulations are also in order for Falter Ego who won the DIT Battle of the Bands in Think Tank on Wednesday (by the by, how fantastic is the new Cylon ceiling in the Eustace Street club?! Totally makes up for the naff Diet-Cokesque mural and porn-star toilets…!) Falter Ego beat off competition from Bojangled, Flying Columns and The Harm to win the first heat. Myself and two judges from Drop-D were level-pegging at 3/4 time and prepared for a fight amongst Indies when the three metallers rocked on and settled the score with four great, catchy songs. Look forward to hearing from you lads but if I can make one teeeny suggestion – introducing online visitors to your music with “The Official…Myspace Page” is a bit naff. Just sayin….
Before I launch into the plethora of upcoming releases and shows, take a moment to consider Parhelia‘s words on the effects of illegal downloading on small bands.
The Dublin post-rockers released Shifting Sands in early February and yet to date there have been over 500 downloads from one filesharing site alone – more than the album’s total legitimate sales. That ain’t cool. Support your local music industry people – it’s the only way to survive without selling out.
The other gigging biggie is The Urges in Whelans, also tomorrow – biggie because it’s their last Irish date before they descend on the not-so-sleepy town of Austin, Texas for SXSW….did you know the city has a bat population of 1.5 million? Sounds like a kind of haven!
Mike Smalle of Cane 141 popped up today. He’s really good at that, one of those ascetic musicians who shuns the trappings of smoke and fame for western seclusion and peerless examples of esoteric aural dabbles. And they are peerless, lovely ‘yes I know it’s half six on Friday night and everyone’s pinging offline like bees from a hive but these songs are so clean and ambient I think I’ll blog a little longer’ chillaxo.
Here’s Sticky Lips from 2005′s Choice-nominated Moon Pool album :
The Shangri-Las : Past, Present & Future
Throbbing Gristle : Hot On The Heels Of Love
Young Marble Giants : Credit In The Straight World
The Cosmic Jokers : Electronenzirkus
Durutti Column : Otis
Faust : The Sad Skinhead
Mohammed Rafi : Jaan Pehechaan Ho
United States Of America : The Garden Of Earthly Delights
JuniorBoys : Count Souvenirs
Coil : A Cold Cell
Portishead : Machine Gun
Max Richter : Harmonium (edit)
Harmonia : sonnenschein
Bruce Haack : Good Life, Good Life
Lindstrom : I Feel Space (M.A.N.D.Y Mix)
Matmos : Solo Buttons For Joe Meek
Link wray : Jack The Ripper
The Delmonas : I Feel Like Giving In
Pere Ubu : The Modern Dance
Sun Ra : A Foggy Day
Felt : Magella
Goood-o, I just stumbled across the blogginess of none other than champion of new Northern Irish tunes, Edwin McFee. Don’t mean to say it’s brand news: his archive goes back six months and a perky blog-button woulda found it sooner but…perky’s for pigs!
The McFee name’s become intrinsically linked with Belfast’s thriving musical hub as he covers latest developments, bringing a harder, ballsier edge of soothsaying with unabashed passion for hairy high volume.
cc: NME/Edwin McFee
I am bloody glad to have another asiwyfa header in the Hot Press house. Not just HP either – in the NME this week he’s done justice to the local scene, giving the post-rockers and Not Squares‘ thrash disco a deadly push. After the fabulous support slot that saw NS steal Cap Pas Cap‘s single-launch limelight at the Twisted Pepper show recently I wholly agree with his choice – of many ventured, those two bands were chosen as top tips for our first issue this year.
“Where we at?” just doesn’t sound right coming from a slight Irish chick, does it? Just like other Irish chicks saying “innit” and “bothered?” sound like dopes. Oh well, that’s the infinite 8-loop of stupidity for ya. Anyway, regardless of global lingo we’ve enough of our own jingoist affairs to keep you sharp…
Huggy bye-byes and big thank-you-for-the-music to The Dagger Lees who’ve called time on their endeavours. It’s all quite unexpected and shocking, especially as the news broke when I’d literally just mailed asking for info and plans for the year ahead. Originally named Stagger Lee, the band enjoyed a grand run of red and black fun, especially with 2008′s release of Stagger Stomp and their song Scarlet Fever featuring on an American indie movie soundtrack. I’d mailed because there were plans to record with legend producer Jim Diamond in 2009 but…. but nevermind. Wish them all the best and look out for bassist Bennie’s new band Hathor’s Vein over the next few months.
It’s great to see Irish musicians rallying for a great cause in Vicar Street…not the Choice Music Prize but an emergency relief fundraiser for the war-torn region of Gaza which has been subjected to intense attacks from the Israeli military since Christmas. Lisa Hannigan and Neil Hannon head the bill along with a host of others. See la Hot Presse for more details.
…and Fred made like Stella’s groove and got their gear back! Come on lads, fess up…you left the van unlocked and the altruistic pinnacles of community protection An Garda Siochana only too kindly took it to the station for safekeeping, right?
A massive, massive thank you to those who voted for Off Her Rocker in the Irish Blog Awards nominations. Three nods in Best Popculture Blog, Best Music Blog and Best Photography Blog. You’re all too lovely.
The pic above is dedicated to Aoife Mc and her-long running IndieHour blog covering Irish music by way of great features, guests and some inspirational choices of photo! I’ve just learned that the blog and radio show have drawn to a close and a huge gap we’ve all noticed in the blogosphere is permanent. A final post outlines Aoife’s reasons for finishing and looks back on what a wonderful ride it was. Catch up or have a nostalgic wallow in her brilliant archive of posts and podcasts.
The lovely lady gave her all since 2004 and really made a stellar effort promoting new music and put together such good, humorous shows, ever one step ahead of fads or trends. You were always guaranteed a great listen. Gon’ miss her lots
Good to see Halfset, Oppenheimer and R.S.A.G. make the grade – we all knew FLApes and Jape would get the nod – but really…it’s the most godawfully boring list, ever. Zzzzzzz.
What do you think? Who were your tips? Any un/outstanding albums for you there? No doubt the real debate will be raging over on Jim Carroll’s blog. Go there, then come back here…
*Edit* rather than just slag the list off, I should elaborate on why I find it uninspiring.
[rant]As I’ve mentioned on JC’s blog, these nominations pale in comparison to last year’s contenders. Where are the exciting outsiders along the lines of Dry County and SEBP in 2008? Of albums to break boundaries, what of The Vinny Club who succeeded in creating an album full of bounding tunes from samples and pure zany imagination. Crayonsmith and Chequerboard have been overlooked YET AGAIN, despite jaw-dropping creations. Was there no skip, hop or jump at the sound of Sunken Foal’s magnificent Fallen Arches?
What about Land Lovers‘ truly fabulous, catchy, original songs of love and heartbreak? Of all Northern Ireland has to offer in its strongest age, is David Holmes deserving? I think not.
Fight Like Apes are darlings but is the lack of guitar really enough to warrant their listing above the utterly superb Spook of the Thirteenth Lock, who twisted traditional Irish instrumental music like a swathe of bubble-wrap? Where are the dance records, the hard rock, the ambitious and daring? Where are those who pooh-pooh the safe, the commercial, easy-listening, easy-sell?
Where is So Cow? Where is Michael Knight? Where are God Is An Astronaut?
Bloody hell but the music sphere is fucking boring today. I’ve been looking for something to talk about all day and no go…but thankfully, Jim Carroll interviewed Hideaway House‘s Dylan Haskins and the transcript is On The Record.
For those who aren’t sure, Dylan is the mind behind the DIY Counterculture documentaryRoll Up Your Sleeves, exploring the role of youth culture in Irish society and how it compares to our European neighbours.
This is something we desperately need to address: what are young people doing for fun? What provisions are made to encourage and nurture burgeoning creativity? Beyond pubs and venues, where is music made accessible, taking away the financial aspect of profit, what remains?
I’m a bore on this subject, I know, I know…it does seem as though I expound the failures of our society to treat our musicians and artists with the respect they deserve, and deserve it they do. Considering how many gigs I attended last year (more than 100 but I ain’t arsed counting exactly), only ten were all-ages shows. I’d say 25% were signed bands, the remaining number of acts promoting, managing, releasing and supporting themselves financially. As far as public and media interest goes, the reaction to this hard work is ignored on a large scale but at least a number of people do attend shows, do buy records, do spread the word.
But what of those who aren’t making music? Who just love it? Record labels with barely any cash take chances on obscure bands with great sounds, risking something uncommercial in a grossly over-commercialised culture. I have some very good friends running gigs and have seen first-hand what a difficult job it is, how little thanks and recognition is involved, and yet the releases and gigs continue as expenses grow.
And what of those who love music but can’t make it, for lack of equipment, experience, space, confidence?
What of those who want to see bands but are too young, broke, demoralised? What about those who’ve never even experienced “the spit of the singer in your face kind of thing” because they don’t even know such a scene exists here, just like me, three years ago?
While bands are hard-pushed to support themselves as it is, labels have their hands full simply keeping their heads above water and promoters work for hardly anything other than the buzz of a great show, who’s left to propagate the seeds sown?
Us. It is up to decent, idealistic music lovers to take matters into our own hands now. We must reclaim this nation from the crap DJs, the useless media, our insipid programmers and mindless chartbusting cretins who continue to buy the latest imported dross. It’s time to take a hard look at what our country has become, its potential – music, art and space – and ask ourselves how we can change that. And Dylan has the answer:
“[DIY] can spring up in a little town in the middle of nowhere because somebody finds out about some band and realises the whole idea about DIY culture and spreads this to all their friends.
“We used any space we could get that wasn’t a pub. The old parochial hall in Greystones, Paddy’s Hall, had closed down to be turned into apartments but it was lying dormant for ages so we eventually got to use that space through the father of one of the girls who used to come to our gigs. We turned it into our own building for our collective, the Basta Youth Collective. We showed movies, put on loads of shows and built up a really good community of young people who were coming to the shows.
“One of the important things for me is that it is not always an audience that I know. I like to have a mix of new faces and old faces. It’s not a party or a club or an elite. I do want to encourage new people to come in. A house is always seens as something very private and closed off from the world but I want to get people thinking about how a space can be used in all these different types of ways. They don’t have to be this set definition as we understand them.”
I respect this guy Haskins so much, not because of his age (21), his inspiration (Kilcoole punks) or reputation (tipped by the Sunday Tribune as Hot to Watch in 2009) but rather, his recognition of Ireland as desperately lacking support it needs to further the creative potential growing amongst young Irish art and music lovers. While I’d love to do something to make a difference, I haven’t a clue where to start. I’m not a great writer, photographer or blogger but I feel inspired to be, if it results in more people supporting our culture. Dylan’s vision has already begun to make a difference here. People are waking up to the idea that you don’t need gold medallions or a mirrored ceiling to support bands, just an open mind, spare hours and a real desire for Change?.
Hello, I’m Nay and yes, those mucky tracks all over your clean new year hallway belong to me
So here’s the speeds, skids and car-crash statistics of the holiday aftermath but before I go forensic on the Irish nethers, if you’re loathe to see the last three weeks’ festivities blur into mist then get yourself over to Seeping Into Cinemas‘ MySpace player for the newly-uploaded There’s Always Next Year and hug/kick-yourself into revolution 2009.
Branching out from their base in Cork, Livewire Presents take the show on the road to Limerick later this month with And So I Watch You From Afar providing the aural-crackle equivalent of a smashed champagne bottle at Baker Place. Then it’s back home to ready up for Elk‘s debut album launch on 23 Jan.
Aortal have big plans for your year which unsuprisingly include Eamon Dorans and more surprisingly, their very good friends Gina Moore, Carla Brunell, Jamie MacDonald and excellent blues-buskerman Wascana on 16 January.