You’ve probably had enough of End Of Year lists by now, so I’ll spare you the ranking and measuring and categorising and commentating that usually comes with any form of musical reportage published at the end of a year.
Instead, you’ll find a simple collection of EPs, tracks, music videos, performances and remixes made partially, or completely by Irish hands that I doted on during 2012. My initial brainstorm yielded about 90 things, but after telling myself how ridiculous that list would be, I whittled it down to 50 based on how much I listened to said work over the past 12 months. Then I alphabetised it using an online tool, because, hey, I’m not a librarian.
Here’s something you probably already know; this Saturday, April 21 is Record Store Day.
In the unlikely event that you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s what you need to know. 2012 marks the fourth annual international Record Store Day, a kind of Indie-focused pseudoholiday founded in 2007 by record store employee Chris Brown (not that one, silly) in celebration of all things round and shiny that play beautiful music. Since then, the third Saturday in April has bestowed us with exclusive vinyl and CD releases and once-off in-store performances in record stores all around the globe. It’s also the only day of the year to see more people walking around with armfuls of music than nodding along to their iPods, which makes it a truly wonderful thing.
Last year’s Record Store Day brought a tonne of Irish goodies with it, including but not exclusive to, a double A-side single from Enemies, a stomping set from Toby Kaar in Plugd Records, Cork, and Lykke Li’s gorgeous mini-show in Tower Records, Dublin. The line-up for 2012 is just as exciting, and for the most part, free, which leaves you with plenty of pennies to spend on new releases from Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, The Flaming Lips, The Civil Wars, Beach House, Feist, Mastodon, St. Vincent, Neon Indian, and old releases from David Bowie, Abba, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, The Clash, Miles Davis, Ozzy Osbourne and T. Rex.
It’s no surprise that it’s the vinyl fanatic’s favourite day of the year, but for all you new-timers, there’s also a handful of exclusive releases planned for CD and cassette. After that, it’s just a great excuse to kill an hour in your local music store.
So go. Buy something. Buy this thankfully non-limited edition cobalt blue pressing of Bill Evans’ recently-uncovered Top Of The Gate show from 1968. Buy this frankly bonkers Damon Albarn remix of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’. Buy this incredibly awesome talking singles collection from The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. Whatever you buy, you’ll be putting your money into music you can hold in your hand, hang on your wall, or cover with coloured paper and give to your mate. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend my pocket money.
The full list of record store day purchasables and downloadables is here, and to find out more about Record Store Day events around the world, pay a visit to Chris Brown (still not him) and company at recordstoreday.com.
Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of what the Irish have in store (har de har etc.) for us this Saturday.
Granted, a selection of classic doo wop covers is not something every Irish singer-songwriter will attempt, but it suits era-hopping crooner Kelleher down to a tee. So far confirmed for the six-track cassette, spookily titled the Ghost Wop Tape, is a seriously lovely version of ‘Angel Baby’ by Rosie And The Originals, which first hit the charts in 1960, where it promptly became John Lennon’s favourite song.
As for the other five tracks on the cassette, we can only speculate. My money’s on ‘Eddie My Love’, originally by The Teen Queens, which appeared on a Kelleher live album in 2009, and I’ll be desperately hoping for a recording of his version of The Ink Spots’ ‘Do I Worry?’, which absolutely slayed me when I heard him perform it at a secret show a few years back.
Available on Long Lost Records from Elastic Witch, Dublin. Listen to Patrick’s version of ‘Angel Baby’ here.
A particularly exciting one, this. The first physical release from Gavin Elsted’s beat-heavy not-so-solo project Adultrock, Loves is a nine-track album of woozy instrumentals and lush experimental dance tracks. Jen Connell, formerly of Cork’s Hooray For Humans, lends vocals to the vintage-sounding melody on ‘Poplife’, while Wicklow teen Monto brings his inimitable quirk to a remix of same. The Squarepusher-esque ‘Hermione’ is a personal fave, but really, the whole thing is totally swoonworthy.
A very limited run of 60 cassettes will be available on Long Lost Records from Elastic Witch, Dublin. Meanwhile, you can stream or buy online for a price of your own choosing here.
RETREAT FROM MOSCOW: In Search Of Home
Another debut physical release, this time from Retreat From Moscow, the brainchild of 21-year-old Dublin-based multi-instrumentalist Stephen Tunney, whose roof-scraping vocals have already earned him comparisons to Bon Iver.
In Search Of Home is a lo-fi-sounding folk and synth record, a paradox in itself, but don’t worry, it all makes sense when Tunney’s meandering voice and strikingly honest lyrics kick in.
A very, very limited run of 35 copies will all new art by LL man Aidan Wall be available on Long Lost Records from Elastic Witch, Dublin. A free digital download is available here.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Record Store Gay Compilation
Clearly, the good folk at Outhouse, a LGBT community resource on Dublin’s Capel St., can’t resist a good pun any more than I can, choosing to celebrate Record Store Gay on April 21 with a unique compilation album of classic queer anthems. 14 brave Irish bands have chosen to take on such iconic tracks as Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ and some slightly lesser known numbers like ‘Big Gay Heart’ by the Lemonheads and Bananarama’s ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting’ (personally, I’d have gone for this.) It didn’t take much to sell me on this one, with bands like Crayonsmith, Hello Moon, Logikparty and Drunken Boat on board. About six seconds into Gaz LeRock’s hypercharged version of Anita Ward’s ‘Ring My Bell’, I knew I was onto a good thing.
The compilation will be available at the Outhouse Record Store Day show (details below). Listen to four of the tracks online here.
HIDDEN HIGHWAYS: Hidden Highways
I’ve bigged-up breezy boy-meets-girl outfit Hidden Highways before, so I was especially psyched when word of country rock duo’s debut EP reached me last week. The eponymous four-tracker captures everything there is to like about the shiny new twosome; surfy, swaying rhythms, flawless vocals and melodies you can’t help but kick back to. I’m still having trouble deciding who sounds better – Clare’s ukulele-toting songwriter Vertigo Smyth or Donegal painter-come-singer Carol Anne McGowan – their honey-dripped cover of ‘Come Wander With Me’, the cult song from the very brilliant Twilight Zone TV series, makes it especially tough.
Available on Out On A Limb Records, and to stream here.
GRETTA GUNN: The Hunt
Looking every bit the ’60s bombshell fatale on the cover of her three-track EP The Hunt, Kildare singer-producer Gretta Gunn uses stark beats, wobbly rhythms and chart-ready vocals to create some very dark and very becoming electronic pop. She also happens to sound remarkably like Debbie Harry. Some girls have all the luck.
250 copies of The Hunt will be available on Limited Edition 10″ white vinyl. Stream it online here.
HALVES: Live At The Unitarian Church
An old school live recording from Dublin foursome Halves promises to be one of the most sought-after Irish Record Store Day releases. Live At The Unitarian Church sees the Dublin art rockers performing tracks from their critically-adored debut album It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever), complete with string section, in the magical St. Stephen’s Green venue.
Halves Live At The Unitarian Church will be released exclusively to selected Irish record stores on 180grm clear vinyl. See ahomeforhalves.com for stockists and the full track list.
To get you in the mood, here’s a video clip of the show in question, filmed by Myles O’Reilly.
(free, unless stated otherwise)
TOWER RECORDS, Wicklow St., Dublin
All-day event on Friday, April 20
4pm: The Riptide Movement
6pm: The Urges
All-day event on Saturday, April 21
1pm: Simone Felice
3pm: Sweet Jane
4pm: Dark Room Notes
6pm: Special guests (Is it Rizzle Kicks? I’d be totally happy with Rizzle Kicks…)
ELASTIC WITCH, The Twisted Pepper, Dublin
All-day event from 2pm with:
Last Days of 1984
Skinny Wolves DJs
OUTHOUSE, Capel St., Dublin
All-day event from 2pm with:
I ♥ The Monster Hero
Lamont Bailey Wall
Lovesea & T
Seeping into Cinemas
You Kiss by the Book
WINGNUT RECORDS, Bell, Book and Candle, Galway
2pm: Nanu Nanu
4pm: Vince Mack Mongrul
5pm: Loner Deluxe
6pm: Them Martyrs
COOL DISCS, Foyle St., Derry (in-store and next door, upstairs in Sandinos)
All-day event from 2.30pm with:
The Wood Burning Savages
ELASTIC WITCH, The Twisted Pepper, Dublin
8-11pm. Admission: €8 before 9pm, €10 after.
BATS, Magic Pockets and Turning Down Sex.
PLUGD AND PING PONG, the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork
Sleep Thieves performing in The Village on Day Three. (Deadly) photo by Ruth Medjber.
Day Three of Ones To Watch 2012 boasted more musician-with-laptop types than any other event I’ve been to on Irish shores, which, at first, appeared to be good news for the beat-hungry paying customer, but bad news for the artists themselves. With so many similar acts on the bill, how does Joey Two Synth make his name count? And more importantly, how many individuals from this tipsy Friday night crowd will be able to remember it tomorrow?
There’s no questioning the Irish appetite for computer-generated sounds – you only have to look to the drool-inducing line-up gracing the Twisted Pepper tonight (SertOne, Bantum, Monto, Datadrip, Reid and more) for proof that electronic music is in marvelously good health – but a truckload of them all at once was just too much to process. At least, this is what I assumed.
As it happened, the acts on last night’s bill were innovative and versatile enough to vanquish my worries completely. On first gawk, it would have been easy to mix up Last Days Of 1984, Tenaka and White Collar Boy or equally, Reid, Simon Bird, Bantum and Trophy Boyfriend, but each set was genuinely memorable, with each new sound tugging at a different nerve.
I’m not even going to attempt a comprehensive review of last night’s goings-on. Reid delivered above and beyond what I was expecting. Daithi trumped anything I’ve seen him do before. It was a night for overachieving.
Tonight, at the band-heavy fourth installment of Ones To Watch, I’ll be asking the same questions as before, only replacing Joey Two Synth with Billy New Strat. If I get anywhere near as encouraging an answer, I’ll be a very happy punter.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 13
Last Days Of 1984
White Collar Boy
* Change from original line-up which listed Future Monarchs.
White Collar Boy
The brainchild of Dubliners Gavin White and Mark Cummins, White Collar Boy sound mightily impressive on wax (by which of course I mean SoundCloud), but their oft-peaceful electronica took on a whole different form in the upstairs crook of Whelan’s last eve. The dreamy, ambient grooves on their Solar Midnight mini-album gave way to freewheeling rhythms, razor-sharp hooks and periodically, bone-shaking thumps, made all the more charming with some eerie, booming vocals. I was pretty floored to learn that their first live show took place only a month ago.
Simon Bird performing in Whelan’s on Day Three. Photo by Ruth Medjber.
Dublin-based Brit Simon Bird is the man responsible for one of my favourite sets at 2011’s Hard Working Class Heroes festival, so I was hardly surprised when I fell for his jarring, industrial grooves all over again last night. The real miracle is that, in just three months, Bird’s live show has become sharper, louder and all the more engaging.
A bonus: if you took a step back and squinted, it kinda sorta looked like Prince Harry was banging out the choons.
The Painfully Clever:
Dublin-based production whiz and probable evil genius Gregor Ruigrok AKA Trophy Boyfriend didn’t so much as flinch when he dropped his remix of Jedward’s ‘Lipstick’ towards the end of his set, but, to me at least, it felt like a dastardly plan to trick music-lovers into dancing blissfully along to the country’s most frequently-bemoaned musical duo. And dance they did…while bellowing out the reconstituted chorus. Interestingly enough, Trophy Boyfriend received equally ecstatic reactions for remixes of tracks by The Cast Of Cheers (‘Family’) and Le Galaxie (‘Powers Of Miami’), two bands whom it is acceptable, nay demanded, for any self-respecting Irish music fan to like. Clever, clever lad.