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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Playlist 400 - May 3 2016

The centrepiece of this week's show was a snippet of an interview I did with Howe Gelb a few weeks ago, when Giant Sand played in Cork as part of their farewell tour. The full interview is about 30 minutes long and I'll upload the whole thing here soon. He's a fascinating man.

Also new music from Rozi Plain (gorgeous kosmische), Britta Phillips (noirish dream pop from her debut album), Cate Le Bon (keeping it brilliantly wonky), Dieterich & Barnes (John Dieterich of Deerhoof and Jeremy Barnes of Neutral Milk Hotel, A Hawk and a Hacksaw etc, making superb left field improv instrumentals) and XIXA (two of the guys from the Giant Sand band making psych cumbia).

And Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld (pic), making vivid compelling chamber sounds, glorious.

More on the blog.

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

Playlist 400
Tues May 3 2016
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Rozi Plain – Marshes (playing Moth Club, London, May 6)
Britta Phillips – Daydream
Lail Arad – Milo (playing End of the Road Festival, Sept 2-4)
Cate Le Bon – I’m a dirty attic (playing Oval Space, London, May 26)
Stephen Steinbrink - Absent mind
Robert Rotifer - Calais
Giant Sand – X-tra wide
Howe Gelb Interview (Extract)
Giant Sand – Pen to paper (playing Ypsigrock Festival, Sicily, Aug 7)
XIXA – Bloodline (playing Birthdays, London, May 10)
Dieterich & Barnes – Out and about
Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – Nerissimo
Fujiya & Miyagi – Serotonin rushes
Fujiya & Miyagi – Ankle injuries (playing Oslo, London, June 3)

*next week's show features music from Holy Fuck, Aries & Maria Usbeck, 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,

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld – Nerissimo (Specula Records)

A compelling album that leaves a thick trace after it, like a fog or a snail track.

This from the press release.

“This record is also a nocturnal transfer, a diary of apparitions, it’s about colours that could transform the whole universe once you name them, a nocturnal flight with the lights off above european capitals.”

Nocturnal is right. It is deep and dark and has a midnight pacing to it.

The arrangements are in a chamber setting mostly, strings and woodwind taking the foreground under Bargeld’s intriguing intonations.

The pizzicato tiptoe of Caetano Veloso’s ‘The empty boat’. The low bass hum and undertow of the title track. The thrumming menace of ‘The beast’. The scrapes and whispers of the spoken word ‘Ulgae’. The pulsing waves of ‘Nirgendheim’.

A wonderful and enduring piece of work.

The Goon Sax – Sometimes accidentally (from the album Up to anything, Chapter Music)

The highpoint from a debut album of very endearing indie pop guitar tunes from this teenage Brisbane trio.

A pummelling floor tom drum. A circling acoustic guitar line. A defiantly chugging bass. Which all adds up to no nonsense.

But the vocal demurs. It’s a love song of sorts. But it dwells on feeling inferior to other suitors. It’s all refreshingly uncertain and hangdogish.

Making a tangy contrast with the music.

*In fact, this gender twisting continues on the snappy single from the album 'Boyfriend'.

If I had a boyfriend / I'd treat him so right / and we could break your heart / so you see how I feel / I need a boyfriend / or just anything real

It would remind you of another Brisbane band, The Go Betweens, and in fact one of this band is the son of Robert Forster.

You know you’re getting old when the sons of the bands you love are forming bands. As long as they’re keeping up the family business we can all grow old without a care.

Lail Arad – The onion (The Vinyl Factory)

An album of songs about life and love delivered with a youthful exuberance and a sweet nature.

Sweet natured but there’s also a wonderful deadpan quality to these songs giving them a certain bite which would make you think of Jonathan Richman, maybe even Leonard Cohen (one song here has Arad imagining herself as consort and muse to the Buddhist one in his prime).

As noted here before, the vocal style also has a lovely slacker vibe (I’m calling it), all insouciance and bending notes. This is shown off to best effect on the totally winning singles ‘When we grow up’ and ‘Lay down’. The former has this line which is a great high wire act of defiance and self-parody.

We try to be realistic but we’re so damn artistic

It all gives the impression of a writer trapped in a singer songwriter’s body or of simply choosing songs as a vehicle for now.

However the musical backing is very tasty. Off the cuff (seemingly) guitar work, choppy reverbed Motown chords, doo wop backing vocals and buzzing organs. ‘Count with me’ even has finger clicks, always good.

The wonderful opening song ‘Milo’ is like the template for Arad’s stew – first tender and sultry, then cool and snappy (great rimshots) with a band of female allies (possibly multiple Lails) chipping in with morale boosting backing vocal support.

It’ll all charm the pants off you while you’re swinging your hips.

Giorgio Tuma – This life denied me your love (Elefant)

Alluring dream pop with undertones of kosmische, shoegaze, library music and sublime orchestral soul.

Laetitia Sadier brings guest vocals (in fact the absolutely wonderful ‘Release from the centre of the heart’ appeared on her last album Something shines although here the main vocal is sung by Tuma’s fellow Italian Matilde Davoli, who also produces most of the album) which guarantees swooning straightaway. There are also notable cameos from Michael Andrews, Populous and Stephen Kaye.

Even apart from all that though, what a gorgeous set of arrangements.

‘Two half moons’, for example, shifts gear midway through from pillows of synths to a glorious string interlude with two step drumbeat.

‘Maude Hope’ brings to mind The High Llamas at their best with banjo/harpsichord arpeggios, a beguiling chord shift and Sadier’s dream of a voice. Around the edges, synth string and guitar melodies flutter and fall. It’s a song you could lie down in all day.

There’s a curious and lovely hint of subdued bossa nova about ‘Foxes don’t lie’, although through a dream pop haze.

On ‘Mat Matite’ you get a sense of a deep, throbbing orchestral soul – a kind of European variety, maybe more cerebral than an earthier American style.

‘My last tears will be a blue melody’ takes this thread further, a bittersweet symphony (a real one) of reaching synths, plangent piano and pleading vocals which nods serenely in the direction of Van Dyke Parks.

It’s a beautiful album, existing in some kind of heartfelt half-dream and ultimately very moving.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Dyjecinski – The Valley of Yessiree (Sideways Saloon Recordings)

There’s a word made for a certain tempo in music. According to me anyway. Lugubrious. I love lugubrious. Slow moving. Slow turning. Space to breathe. Meditative. Melancholy too.

A Dyjecinski does great lugubrious.

With a whiff of Lambchop and Bill Callahan, and for those in the know Boa Morte. Subtle shadings of brass and steel guitar and centrally a deep baritone voice on the verge of cracking. Those touchstones shown in post punk guitar distortions fizzing around country soul lounge shapes.

And a most pleasing way with a lyric.

“A spectacular failure is spectacular all the same”

On ‘I’m the woods’ he leaves lugubrious behind briefly and comes off a little like Antony Hegarty, his voice bending and pleading. Which only adds further weight and power to the great slow train when it returns.

A wonderful sound.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Playlist 399 - Apr 26 2016

Some events happening which tie in this week.

Gene Clark died 25 years ago this year. The very good people at Young Hearts Run Free are putting on a tribute event in Dublin next month featuring a host of people playing GC songs. Should be great.

Slow Moving Clouds start a short Irish tour this w'end in Cork - go. Julia Kent is back in Dublin next month also, cellos all round.

Other than that, if you're in the UK you can check Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid, Anna von Hausswolff, Kathryn Joseph in the next while - spoiled ye are over there.

And JC Vannier rules of course. I'm sure he's not at all inconsolable, contrary to what Lake Ruth would have us believe.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 399
Tues Apr 26 2016
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Slow Moving Clouds – Hiljainen Suru (playing Gulpd Café, Cork, Apr 30)
Julia Kent – Nina and Oscar (playing Freemasons' Hall, Dublin, May 28)
Jean-Claude Vannier – La giraffe au ballon
Lake Ruth – The inconsolable Jean-Claude
Gene Clark – Why not your baby (No Other: A Celebration of Gene Clark, MVP, Dublin, May 24)
The Byrds – She don’t care about time
Aldous Harding – Stop your tears (playing Bush Hall, London, Apr 28)
Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus – Cuerdas al viento (Por Malaguena) (playing Cathédrale Sainte Croix des Arméniens, Paris, May 3)
Nadia Reid – Holy low (playing Slaughtered Lamb, London, June 1)
Anna Von Hausswolff – Sova (playing Barbican Centre, London, July 2)
Ennio Morricone – The ecstasy of gold (from the soundtrack of the film The good, the bad and the ugly)
Julia Holter – Sea calls me home (playing Vicar Street, Dublin, Nov 19, w/ Circuit des Yeux)
Circuit des Yeux – Do the dishes
The Moles – Bury me happy
Kathryn Joseph – the blood (playing Summerhall, Edinburgh, Aug 6)

*next week's show features music from Dieterich & Barnes and XIXA, 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,