Deerhunter, Health, Other Bits & Bobs from the last few days

9 05 2008

Last night, I went to Health & Deerhunter in Whelans. Health are energetic, visually exciting and fucking loud but lacking in substance. And when I say substance, I mean tunes. Health exist in a world of feedback and distorted loops and layers upon layers of noise. Fun to watch but I know now that I never have to listen to their records, to be honest.

I had been looking forward to seeing Deerhunter, having missed their last show here.  And last night’s gig was a good, if fairly shambolic, performance. The problem was that I kinda expected more from them. I expected it to be more extreme, to be louder and more full-on. I wanted the extremeness of Health but with the tunes I’d expect from Deerhunter. They mostly concentrated on new material from their forthcoming album, ‘Microcastle’ (due at Halloween time). The new songs sounded good – poppier, almost Beatlesy at moments but they didn’t always go as far as I wanted them to. They seemed to stop short of climaxes. But the older stuff really shone for me – particularly ‘Strange Lights’. It just would have been nice to have heard a bit more old stuff. It was new guitarist, Whitney’s first gig and she seemed to fit in without any problems, spitting and leap-frogging and joining in on all manners of japes.

Speaking of which, I will be playing three songs tonight from Jape’s new album, Ritual, which is less dancier than you might expect but full of cracking tunes, all the same. I’ll also be playing tracks from the new Vinny Club tribute to Rocky IV, a track from the new Notwist record and the new Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan album and my ‘Under The Radar’ album will be ‘When’ by Vincent Gallo. So that’s all on at Midnight BST tonight (Friday May 9th) on and Phantom 105.2 in Dublin.

On Wednesday night, I saw Dan Le Sac v Scroobius Pip again and Messiah J & The Expert who played some of their new tunes. I’m really liking The Button Factory these days. The sound is pretty good and it’s a comfortable venue, no longer feeling like a Russian warehouse . More places could learn from this. It’s an example of a well-considered renovation.

Here’s a link to Deerhunter’s photos and blog from Dublin and below you can watch that very song I mentioned – ‘Strange Lights’.

Halves – Medals

5 05 2008

I’ve been very much enjoying the new release by Halves, ‘Haunt Me When I’m Drowsy’. I’m not sure if it’s an EP or an album – it’s got seven tracks and lasts 32 minutes. I guess it’s a mini-album, though the new So Cow album (also very good) is shorter (28 minutes long) but with 11 songs and is most definitely an album. This is Halves’ second release – the first one kind of passed me by, which is probably a mistake on my part. But both of them have beautiful packaging although I seem to have already broken the elastic strap which clasps the package together.

I’m sure they’re sick of being described as Sigur Ros-esque so I’ll try not to mention it. This video was made by the Tisch School of Arts project who have previously made videos for most Irish bands that have ever existed and is an interestingly quirky video, though it seems to end before the song does. I haven’t seen the band live yet, so must add them to my list of bands to go and see. It seems 2008 is shaping up to be a really strong year for Irish music and we still (hopefully) have albums to come from Cap Pas Cap, Jape, The Vinny Club, Fight Like Apes, Messiah J & The Expert, Redneck Manifesto amongst others.

Atmosphere – Guarantees

24 04 2008

Quite a few years ago, two young Irish guys rang up an American rapper they quite admired and asked if they could come visit him. The rapper probably thought nothing of it and never expected the blokes to actually come and visit. Lo and behold, the two guys flew to Minneapolis and arrived on the rapper’s doorstep. The rapper, probably bewildered by these youngsters who had travelled thousands of miles to meet him, politely put them up, showed them around and got them rather stoned. The two Irish guys in question were Messiah J (of Messiah J & The Expert) and DJ Flip (ITF Eastern Hemisphere 2003 Champion). The rapper was Slug of Atmosphere. He has since gone on to be rather a big deal, particularly in the States where he is responsible for a large amount of record sales. He is also behind Rhymesayers who have released records by Brother Ali, Eyedea & Abilities and MF Doom.  I met him and Brother Ali briefly at SXSW last year – they had come to see Messiah J & The Expert there – and he did indeed seem like a most friendly gentleman.

Atmosphere are about to release a new album, ‘When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold’ and here’s one of the tracks from it. It’s called ‘Guarantees’ and defies the hip-hop norms by having no beats – it’s just a couple of chords on an acoustic guitar and Slug. Good stuff…

Albums to look forward to in 2008

2 01 2008


My Bloody Valentine – Title TBC  Due Sometime 2008

Apparently, this is mostly done. According to Kevin Shields, it’s a continuation of the record they started in the mid-nineties, which he then described as ‘like drum & bass at 33RPM’ with some new tracks as well. Hopefully, it’ll be out in time for the gigs this summer which is all very exciting. There are some bands you’d hate to see recording together again (The Pixies, The Smiths)  but My Bloody Valentine are one band that just might pull it off.

Portishead – Title TBC (Rumoured Title: ‘Alien’) Due April 2008:

This looks like it could well be a stonker. They played some of the new material at their recent ATP appearance and reports all-round were excellent. You can see one of the tracks, Peaches here which is excellent and other tracks I’ve heard also seemed rather wonderful and very different for Portishead. Everything sounds much more upbeat and it seems like 60’s psychedelia may be a key influence on the record. But we’ll have to wait and see…

Goldfrapp - The Seventh Tree Goldfrapp – ‘Seventh Tree’  Due February 2008:

Having heard much of this, I have to say I’m really looking forward to it. I was a big fan of ‘Felt Mountain’ but have been fairly indifferent to anything since. But the new material is stripped-down and more ethereal with a Beatles/Cocteau Twins influence on the material I’ve heard. A&E is the first single to be released from the album and is already getting regular play on Phantom 105.2.

Los Campesinos – ‘Hold On Now Youngster’  Due February 2008:

It feels like a lifetime since I first heard their demo’s and got very excited by Los Campesinos!, which is unfortunate because a lot of their songs seem old to me now and they seem to be over-doing the twee factor the more I learn about them. But I’m still holding out hope that they’ll pull a great album out of the bag, I’ll forgive them their tweeness-overload and it’ll all be okay again. They play The Village on February 11th 2008

Cap Pas Cap  – Title TBC  Due Sometime 2008

They originally claimed that their album would be released in 2007 along with a split 7″ but neither made an appearance. In fact, their only release of the year was a re-press of their 2006 ‘Not Not Is Fine’ EP. Hopefully, it won’t take too much longer and we’ll be rewarded with releases in the near future. Hurry up, would you?

The Jimmy Cake The Jimmy Cake – ‘Spectre & Crown’  Due February 2008

The Jimmy Cake finally get around to releasing their follow-up to ‘Dublin Gone, Everybody Dead’, which is now six years old. They recently played some of the new tracks on The Indie Hour which sounded more piano-led and almost simpler than The Jimmy Cake you might be used to.

The Breeders: ‘Mountain Battles’  Due April 2008:

Steve Albini is involved and it includes a song in Spanish and a song in German. They play Dublin on April 7th 2008 in The Ambassador.

 Jape – Title TBC  Due: Feb/March 2008

Another one that fells like it’s taken an age to come out but hopefully it will be well worth the wait. Presumably, their current set will make up the bulk of the record which has to be a good sign. Songs like ‘Gimme Some More’, ‘I Was A Man’ and ‘Strike Me Down’ are all absolute stompers so it’s hard to see how this one can fail.

Wild Beasts – Title TBC  Due: Sometime 2008

Wild Beasts are a band that a lot of people are going to despise. Funny high-pitched vocals, bizarre lyrics and a general atmosphere of feyness abounds but I think they’re one of the most exciting new bands around. All three singles to date have been first class so I can’t wait to see what they do with a full-length.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Title TBC  Due: Hopefully 2008

Dexy’s are a long-time favourite of mine and ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ is one of my favourite albums ever. I saw a re-formed Dexy’s a few years ago and was sorely disappointed and this is a record I would have been worried about except that the new song Kevin Rowland has up on his Myspace page (‘It’s OK Johanna’) is fantastically deadly so perhaps all is not lost yet.

Foals Foals – Antidotes  Due: March 2008

This is a band that could still go either way for me. I have loved some of their tracks while others have left me cold. I’m glad to see that the tracklisting includes the track that got me excited about them in the first place – ‘The French Open’ and doesn’t include the underwhelming single, ‘Mathlethics’.

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend  Due: Jan 2008

They certainly stick out like a sore thumb from everything else that’s going on at the moment with their Afro-Beatles sound. You’re going to hear about them constantly for the next few months and endless reviews mentioning Paul Simon’s Graceland album but if their debut is as good as ‘Mansard Roof’ and new single ‘A Punk’, then it could well be worth the hype.

The Smiths – Boxset  Due: Late 2008

Johnny Marr confirmed towards the end of the year that he and Morrissey are compiling a boxset supposedly due for relese in 2008. Marr hoped it would include unreleased versions of tracks including some of the never-officially released Troy Tate demos and alternate versions and unrelesaed session versions of tracks. It won’t feature any new tracks but it may also include a DVD of unreleased live footage of the band.

Messiah J & The Expert – Title TBC  Due: Summer 2008 

I have to declare an interest here as I’m involved with the band  (See here) but I have heard a lot of the album and I think it sounds very exciting.

Other bands/artists that will hopefully release new records this year include Boards of Canada, Stereolab, Joanna Newsom, Broadcast, Edan and Boom Bip (His ‘Sacchrilige’ EP of last year was the best thing he’s ever done but I’m less keen on Neon Neon, his recent collaboration with Gruff Rhys). There’s always a few surprises and I’m sure this time next year I’ll be praising albums from 2008 by artists I don’t even know exist yet. That’s the fun part.

Murkey Nights/Rarely Seen Above Ground

18 11 2007

I saw one of the most amusing things that I’ve seen in a long time last night. I went to Murkey Nights 2 in Tailor’s Hall – a beautiful Georgian An Taisce building opposite Mother Redcaps. It was a club/dance/rave night thingy in two rooms featuring various DJ’s and a few bands. But after Messiah J & The Expert’s set, the band room was invaded by firemen. One fireman was checking the fire escape and saw that it was locked and blocked by a sound desk. As he attempted to get the place shut down, four or five firemen started raving to some techno while the crowd chanted, “The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on fire” along to the music. I don’t think the concerned fire chief was very impressed. It was one of those almost unreal cinematic moments that happen all so rarely. Minutes later, the room was cleared and the partying was confined to the one room downstairs. However, very shortly after that (just as I was leaving) five cop cars arrived, sirens blazing, to shut the place down.

But before Messiah J & The Expert, I saw a set by an intriguing one man band-drummer guy who calls himself Rarely Seen Above Ground. He performs with a video screen behind him featuring a virtual band while he sings and drums away in a vaguely mental fashion. Unfortunately, due to rotten sound last night, it took away from the total effect but he is supporting Jape over the coming weeks so it might be a good chance to catch him in a better situation.  

I’ve included some footage above of him so you can get an idea of his percussion madness. I’m always impressed by drummers that can sing at the same time (apart from Phil Collins) and the video footage of the virtual band is a nice touch. There’s not much of the video band in this clip but you should get some idea of his Can-like sounds.

His upcoming gigs are: 

22 Nov  UCD, Dublin (with Jape)

24 Nov  Ping Pong @ The Liquid Lounge, Cork

5 Dec  Cypress Avenue, Cork (with Jape)

6 Dec  Dolans, Limerick (with Jape)