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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Various Artists - Kaught at the Kampus EP (Reekus Records)

And to finish off this strange July a first digital release for a little treasure from 1981.

Kaught at the Kampus is a somewhat legendary title for people of a certain vintage. Those who remember the Arcadia Ballroom which was the kind of pre-Henry’s Sir Henry’s in Cork.

A rock venue that played host to the fledgling U2 as well as The Cure, UB40 and plenty of other worthy names of the time.

This Downtown Campus was run by Elvera Butler who persuaded the leading Cork bands of 1981 to be part of a live recording.

It’s a live EP recorded at Elvera’s UCC gig Downtown Kampus, features tracks by post-punk bands such as Nun Attax, Mean Features, Urban Blitz and the original line-up of Mircodisney.

Finbarr Donnelly and Ricky Dineen of Nun Attax went on to form Five Go Down To The Sea and later Beethoven before Donnelly died tragically in London. Mean Features included singer Mick Lynch who went on to front Stump. And of course Microdisney “spawned” Fatima Mansions and High Llamas later in life. So lots of history in this small thing.

A small very good thing.

iTunes/Apple Music:
Google Play:

Bjork – Lionsong (from Vulnicura, One Little Indian)

A distinct echo in this from Bjork’s Post album which is one that always has a soft spot in my heart.

Presumably it’s those bending swooping Bollywood strings. Those alone and her vocal are enough to make this captivating.

The backbeats are more reminiscient of the Homogenic album maybe. Thudding and brooding.

Notice too the wonderful layering of her vocal at the beginning of the song. Not double tracking. Quixotic and out of sync.

The triumph here overall is taking deeply emotional content and turning it into a strangely uplifting experience for the listener.

Masterful as always.

Totally Mild – The next day (from the album Down Time, Fire Records)

There’s something about Elizabeth Mitchell’s voice.

While singing these lines -

I’m in bed and I never want to go outside again

she sounds like she’s drifting off into sentimental or even mildly ecstatic reverie.

The voice is billed as falsetto. I’m not sure it is exactly but I’m sure it’s pitched just above the shelf of full throated. Delicately poised.

Meanwhile the genius guitar line forms a duet with it in the spiral staircase chorus.

Thereafter the rhythm section pulls the neat trick of leaving out half the beats.

With the twined guitar and posied at an angle voice this has the wonderful effect of slowing you right down to the pace of the song as it stretches its limbs. Twould nearly make you want to up sticks to Melbourne.

It is languid and altogether very very lovely.

De Lux – Oh man, the future (Innovative Leisure)

A genius turn from the LA duo which takes two crucial elements of the vintage Talking Heads sound and fuses them with an authentic 21st century anxiety.

Those elements are the relentless pulse bass of Tina Weymouth.

And the declamatory, talking-loudly-to-myself vocals of David Byrne.

World War 4. US Civil War 2024. No money. Everything is free.

They suggest a scenario in which dancing to a four to the floor disco beat can alleviate this state of affairs. Not a solution maybe but a way to soothe your mind and body.

You might even feel like embracing an uncertain future if the soundtrack is as brilliant as this.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Man of Moon - The road (Melodic Records)

There’s a bit of a Glasgow roll on the show lately what with C Duncan and Kathryn Joseph (there’s also a new Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat album due out later in the year). What’s even more impressive about them all is the diversity of styles on show, no sign of trendsetting or bandwagon jumping.

Man of Moon are a duo who take a hint of Jagwar Ma and put a motorik worm into it.

Chunky power chords.
Unswerving drumbeat.
A song about the road.
World weary vocals. (They’re only young.)
Dancefloor breakdown.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Playlist 365 - July 21 2015

Some whistling to start off the show this week. Esquivel pushed the boundaries of stereo sound (and orchestral arrangements) in the 50s and 60s. And C Duncan is doing similar with pop instruments and classical techniques. Both have knockout whistling interludes.

New music from Best Boy Grip of Derry, always welcome, one of the best songwriters and arrangers on this island.

J Fernandez, lovely Beach Boyish arrangement. Ezra Furman with that great manic energy but also a searing intellect. The Phoenix Foundation taking off into epic prog territory, a great trip.

And The Chap are back and chapping away very chappishly as always.

More on these pages.

July 21 2015 w/ C Duncan,Beach Boys,J Fernandez,ALS,Blank Realm,Novella,Best Boy Grip++ by The Underground Of Happiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 365
Tues July 21 2015
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Esquivel – Sentimental journey
C Duncan - For (playing CCA, Glasgow, July 24)
Best Boy Grip – Can’t buy love, son
Liminal Drifter feat Chloe March – Troubled mystic
Blank Realm - River of longing (playing The Workman's Club, Dublin, Sept 27)
Novella – Land gone (playing Festival No. 6, Portmeirion, Sept 3-6)
A Lazarus Soul – Mercury hit a high
The Beach Boys – Do it again
J Fernandez – Between the channels
Ezra Furman – Restless year (playing Standon Calling Festival, July 31-Aug 2)
The Phoenix Foundation – Mountain
The Doomed Bird of Providence – In the sleepy summer noon
Mucky Sailor - Albatross, silly albatross
The Chap – That’s wrong

*next week's show is a Best of 2015 so far and features music from Noveller, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Rozi Plain & William D Drake among others

e-mail the show on
or text +353 (0)86-7839800
please mark messages “uoh”

Conor O'Toole,
c/o UCC 98.3FM,
Áras na Mac Léinn,
Student Centre,
University College Cork,

Monday, July 20, 2015

C Duncan - Architect (Fat Cat)

A thoroughly intoxicating album of leisurely (mostly) and dreamy paeans to the everyday from Mr Christopher Duncan of Glasgow.

On one end of the scale you’ll find the very pleasantly Grizzly Bear-ish ‘Garden’ with its swooping ooh and aw vocals projecting against a driving psych pop backdrop. All on foot of a mere trip to the garden.

Dialling the psych down a notch is the gorgeous ‘Here to there’ with reverbed and falsetto vocal harmonies let loose over a thrumming backbeat. In it Duncan suggests “it’s so familiar” and the song almost comes across as a mission statement for his music. How strange and astonishing the world around us is.

Much of the rest of the album is in a lower but no less lovely gear. ‘For’ has a drifting folk-pastoral air to it (and the most beguiling whistling interlude since Esquivel’s version of ‘Sentimental journey’) with beautiful vocal arrangements on display once again.

It’s the culmination of the album’s opening run taking in ‘Say’, the title track and ‘Silence and air’. The kind of glorious sequence you would dream of in your dream pop dreams. Where guitars and keys frolic in ways most unusual around sumptuous melodies. In fact the way these rock instruments cavort around serenely gives a kind of clue to Duncan’s classical musical upbringing. Classical perhaps in the way that Moondog is classical.

The choral uplift of ‘Architect’ in which the guitar parts form an unlikely orchestra. The dense heady atmosphere of ‘Silence and air’ which has another shadow of the baroque strains of Grizzly Bear to it and banked vocals conjuring church choirs.

The second half of the album features such knockouts as ‘New water’ - another hypnotic hymn to home (possibly?) – and ‘Novices’ with great swelling Morricone-esque strings. Both songs anchored by the everpresent tick tock guitar arpeggios. And the closing song ‘I’ll be gone by winter’ which comes on like The Beach Boys sinking even deeper into sacred music.

Intoxicating. Heady. This is strong stuff alright. Liable to knock you out. Tunes to make your head spin. I’ve seen another review mention the 4AD brand of dream pop as a reference point and it’s a good comparison. Because these songs put hooks in your heart and they don’t let go.