Showing posts from September, 2011

Playlist 190 - Sept 27 2011

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed

Playlist 190
Tues Sept 27 2011
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons - You're a song (that I can't sing) (Mowest Compilation) (Munster Soul Clubnight, The Phoenix, Cork, Oct 29)
Toro y Moi - All alone
Dark Captain - 3 years to go (playing Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London, Oct 5)
Peter Broderick - It wasn't a deer skull (from the soundtrack of the film Confluence)
North Sea Radio Orchestra - I a moon (playing The Komedia, Brighton, Oct 12, w/ William D. Drake)
William D. Drake - Wholly holey (playing The Komedia, Brighton, Oct 12, w/ North Sea Radio Orchestra)
The Phoenix Foundation - Bright grey
Cloud Contro…

Eden Ahbez – Eden’s Island (Trunk Records)

Another lost classic re-issued by the wonderful Jonny Trunk. This album was originally released in 1960 on Del-Fi Records and features one of life’s proto-hippies in the shape of Eden Ahbez (an assumed name, as you may have guessed, born Alexander Aberle in Brooklyn in 1908), a drifter, performer, student of Oriental mysticism, who moved west and reportedly lived outdoors with his family in Los Angeles, under the first L in the Hollywood sign. He was also a regular performer at the city’s coffeehouses in the 1940’s, mixing poetry with flute and bongo arrangements. And, most famously, he was responsible for the song Nature boy, that superb evocation of innocence abroad which was turned into a hit by Nat King Cole in 1947. All those elements are present on this album, along with a strong undercurrent of Central American rhythms which tends to bring Esquivel to mind (this is always welcome). Especially on songs like Full moon, a beautiful, sombre vibes arrangement with a spoken word paea…

Scott Solter – One river (Hidden Shoal)

We mentioned last month the lead track from this album (first released in 2005 on Tell All Records), from the man who is one half of American experimental pop duo Boxharp. Its seven instrumental tracks run continuously, proceeding at glacial pace - turning, shifting, transforming in a slow, deliberate melt. Textures derive from guitar and synth smears, as well as tape manipulations and field recordings, producing a symphony of heart-tugging power. Overall, there is a pastoral rather than an industrial feel, with the humming and groaning and rumbling of the natural world being evoked. It would be wrong to single out one track over another – you need to hear this river in flow. Suffice to say, this is an ambient work of sublime beauty.

*As a post-script, Mark and Laura Solter have put together a wonderful piece of film to accompany the entire album. It's called Twins and Wives, it's a series of stately tableaux (of rural and nature scenes mostly) and you can watch it here.

Tune-Yards - Gangsta video

No excuse needed around here for a bit of Tune-Yards, the album whokill on 4AD being a shoe-in for album of the year in the UOH cabin. The still current single is Gangsta and a new video for the song has been put together by the very talented Merrill Garbus herself. She comes across as more ninja than gangsta in it, to be honest, showing herself to be extremely flexible (physically as well as artistically). But really, she could have filmed two flies crawling up a wall and put the tune to it and I would have been happy. Legend. Shot on the ubiquitous Eye-Phone...

Dum Dum Girls - Bedroom eyes video

Further to news about the new Dum Dum Girls album, Only in dreams, last month, we now have a new video for lead track Bedroom eyes, made by Tom Macon. It's a wonderful cascading kaleidoscope of multiple Girls, which very nicely mirrors the shimmering guitar sound and theme of sleep-deprived twilight zone paranoia. There's also a LOT of lipstick and that is always a good thing.

Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

Over the summer, in among the piles of great new music arriving, I became more than slightly obsessed with one song from 1972. It was contained on the great compilation Our lives are shaped by what we love: Motown's Mowest Story 1971-1973, brought out by the wonderful Light in the Attic label. The song in question is the first track on the album, You're a song (that I can't sing), by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track down a video or full listening link for it, but you will find a 30 second sample on the LITA website here (there's some other top class tunes on it too, from the likes of Odyssey, Sister Love and G.C. Cameron).

As you'll see on that page, the label was the brainchild of Berry Gordy, the Motown boss, an idea to transfer the Detroit operation to the west coast, and launch a west-coast version - bre…

Roll the Dice – In dust (Leaf)

This is a kind of concept album about life in the modern metropolis, with a soundtrack of machines at work, from the Swedish duo made up of Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt. It’s one of the most evocative and strangely groovy collections you’ll come across. Favouring analogue synths over digital, they’ve managed to capture the rhythmic, repetitive, grinding, but also messy, untidy, unpredictable character of urban life. Or, if you prefer, they’ve made an intriguingly semi-pop series of electronic instrumentals, that also manage to have some jazz improv and Krautrock in them.

The elements range from the buzz of static to broad, sweeping synths and dubby bass pads, stop-start industrial clanks and the swoop, suck and throb of circuitry in general (one track is actually called The suck), all combining in a sort of machine swing dance class of the (near) future. However, one of the most appealing features of the album is its terrific, busy, spidery piano riffs (used to particularly me…

Playlist 189 - Sept 20 2011

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed

Playlist 189
Tues Sept 20 2011
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Connan Mockasin - Faking jazz together (extended version) (playing Deaf Institute, Manchester, Sept 26)
Liz Green - Bei mir bist du schoen (playing Kings Place, London, Nov 25)
Memoryhouse - Modern normal
Eden Ahbez - Full moon (Trunk Records)
Dutch Uncles - The ink (playing Academy 2, Dublin, Nov 18)
(The) Caseworker - The slow track
Larsen feat. little Annie - It was a very good year (playing Cafe Oto, London, Oct 8, w/ Trumpets of Death)
Driver Drive Faster - They may talk
Trumpets of Death - The press gang (playing Cafe Oto, London, Oct 8, w/ Larsen)
Yann Tiersen - Monuments (playing …

Peter Broderick – Music for Confluence (Erased Tapes)

A new soundtrack work by the now Berlin resident (following last year's Congregation and 2009's Falling from trees dance soundtracks, both also on Erased Tapes), this time to a film documentary by Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott about a cluster of unsolved cases of missing and murdered young girls in Idaho around 1980, and the main suspect that links the cases. With subject matter like that, and track titles like She just quit coming to school, Until the person is apprehended and Circumstantial evidence, you might expect something dour, serious, hopeless. Far from it. Broderick manages to maintain a delicacy and lightness of touch about the arrangements, without sacrificing a certain ominous quality in keeping with the subject matter. Broderick’s main instruments (if it’s fair to call them that, he seems to play everything, including vibes and steel drums on stage with Efterklang in Cork last July), piano and violin, are most prominent, to plaintiff and moving effect. Suspe…

Efterklang Interview

We had a few extracts from the interview with Casper Clausen, the singer from Efterklang, on the show this week. The full interview is available here.

Topics of conversation include Vincent Moon and the making of the film An island, celebrity crushes, the common ground between Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey, the differences between The Leaf Label and 4AD, their collaboration with Daniel Bjarnason and the Messing Orchestra for the Reich Effect Festival at the Savoy Theatre in Cork, the secret location for work on their new album, their Efterkids music education program and being “married” to music. Listen out too for an unexpected rendition of The Beatles’Penny Lane.

AN ISLAND - 3rd TEASER - Vincent Moon & Efterklang from Rumraket on Vimeo.
The gig they played in Cork (the night after I did the interview) was a powerful, even emotional event. More thoughts on it here.

Driver Drive Faster - Open house (aA Recordings)

I’m a bit behind the curve on this one (the curve being June 2011 - I know my colleague Jim Comic was well ahead of the curve on this), but this is an album too good to pass up from the Manchester four-piece. It’s freewheeling and forward-thinking folk rock with a strong pop conviction at the core (actually it makes me think of the kind of band Elbow could be if they weren’t so, dare I say, dour.). New single They may talk starts life as a glittering electric piano-sunburst guitar duet, but by the chorus has somehow morphed into a great falsetto-festooned jam, with some great hi-hats. Missing out is a classic English smalltown tearjerker, with hints of brass band under the chorus riff. A title like Can’t afford to rely on paté might turn you off but stick around for the plaintiff vocal and teardrop piano, it’s affecting. The superb Gravel dents throws the verse-chorus structure out the window but still manages to cram in a sackful of hooks (I particularly like the space-funk interlude…

Memoryhouse - The Years EP (Sub Pop)

This is something worth taking 19 minutes out of your day to listen to. Memoryhouse are a duo from Toronto, consisting of Evan Abeele (composer) and Denise Nouvion (vocals). They originally self-released most of these songs in 2010 on digital only. Those songs are now getting CD and LP treatment, with a couple of extra tracks added, and everything re-recorded/mixed/mastered from scratch. And of course the considerable support of Sub Pop. What you have below is fairly unusual - the whole EP, as a stream with accompanying film. I'd say it's dream pop, but whatever you want to call it, it's intoxicating stuff. That word isn't out of place actually because there's a certain narcotic quality to it that you wouldn't be wrong in associating with a Panda Bear or a Beach House. There's more of an ambient drift underneath this, mind you. I just feel like lying down really and letting its reverbed gorgeousness wash over me all day. At the risk of overdosing your sense…

Playlist 188 - Sept 13 2011

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed

Playlist 188
Tues Sept 13 2011
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Tune-Yards - Gangsta (radio edit)
Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands - Broken up now
Tarwater - Inside the ships
Atlas Sound - Terra incognita
Madam - Someone in love (playing National Portrait Gallery, London, Sept 16)
The Dead Trees - Older (playing St Pancras Old Church, London, Sept 19)

Interview with Casper Clausen of Efterklang
Efterklang Interview Excerpt 1
Efterklang - Alike
Efterklang Interview Excerpt 2
Efterklang - I was playing drums
Efterklang Interview Excerpt 3
*d'load the full interview here

Maria Taylo…

A Winged Victory for the Sullen - A Winged Victory for the Sullen (Erased Tapes)

We were talking last month about a new album due out on Erased Tapes, the self-titled debut from A Winged Victory for the Sullen, the collaboration between Stars of the Lid founder Adam Wiltzie and L.A. pianist Dustin O'Halloran. That's a band name which could go either way, ambitious or pompous, depending on the content of the music. You can test the question now by listening to it in full on this link.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen (EXCLUSIVE FULL ALBUM STREAM) by erasedtapes

You'll notice early on that it's completely instrumental and conducted at a moderate to slow pace. I think it's a monumental piece of work, personally. It feels like it has the power to divide the world between the time before you heard it, and the time since. There's a kind of floating, unearthly beauty about it. Starting immediately with the plangent piano chords of We played some open chords and rejoiced... . And the strings with ambient soundscape melancholia of Requiem for the Sta…

The Jezabels - Endless summer (Play It Again Sam)

We love a bit of AOR around the UOH cabin. And that's exactly what you have in the voice of The Jezabels' lead singer, the wonderfully named Hayley Mary. The Sydney four piece's new single came out in the last week and it sounds a little bit like Arcade Fire fronted by Belinda Carlisle. That's a good thing, in case you're wondering. It's a thumping tune with an irresistible chorus. The video features horses and shotguns and allsorts (as well as a mightily impressive crew list - there's even a Tech Assistant).

If they have more tunes like that, they should be quite a thing. See if you agree with me on the Belinda Carlisle thing.

They also put together some video footage of their time at Electric Picnic last weekend in Stradbally, their first appearance in Ireland, which seems to have been well received. There's mention of Sinéad O'Connor and triangles in the same sentence. Appropriately, there's also a snatch of Arcade Fire's EP performance i…

Playlist 187 - Sept 6 2011

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed

Playlist 187
Tues Sept 6 2011
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
Cork Campus Radio, 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*check the blog for listening links/videos

Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin - 69 Année Erotique
Georges Delerue - Camille (from the soundtrack of the film Le Mépris)
A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Steep hills of Vicodin tears
Bill Ryder-Jones - A leave taking (from the soundtrack of the film A leave taking)
Dark Captain - Submarines
Other Lives - Tamer animals
Rachael Dadd - Balloon (playing The Cube, Bristol, Oct 21)
St Vincent - Surgeon (playing Workman's Club, Dublin, Nov 13)
Liz Green - Displacement
Roll the Dice - See you Monday
BLK w/BEAR - Casey Jnr
Mint Julep - Aviary
(The) Caseworker - National runner
Canon Blue - Indian summer (Des Moines)
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Keep…

(The) Caseworker - Letters from the coast (Hidden Shoal)

(The) Caseworker – Letters from the coast (Hidden Shoal)

*Brother and sister Conor & Eimer Devlin (originally Irish) form the core of this three-piece. They’ve produced a beguiling album of sunburst guitar melodies, sitting on a foundation of drone, with a thin gauze of hazy suspense draped over it. We’ve already spoken about the chiming single National runner - written about the Ethiopian long-distance athlete Miruts Yifter and it shares something of his relentless drive. The widescreen feel of Boats is created with banks of ringing, Byrdsian guitars, which combine for a thrilling crescendo. The beautiful Sea years has Eimer’s hushed, low-in the-mix vocal set against a driving bassline (reminiscient of Yo La Tengo a little bit). There’s more than a shade of shoegaze about both Sister song and Little good it did you, with fuzz smears and high-fretted bass. And I love The slow track with its ingenious uplift of trumpet, coming in the wake of a closet bossa nova. Enigmatic but appro…

Mint Julep - Aviary Video + Free Download

New music from Mint Julep, the husband and wife duo Keith and Hollie Kenniff, based in Portland, Oregon. It's a beautiful slice of shoegazey electro-pop, with a suitably dreamy female vocal, as the opening line confirms.

"I lie awake
dreaming of landscapes in the rain"

The mid-section breakdown also reminds me a bit of OMD - just another reason to love it. You can download it for free here.

Mint Julep - Aviary - FREE DOWNLOAD by Keith Kenniff - Helios

The video, made by the Berlin-based A Nice Idea Every Day people, succeeds in conveying the ennui of youth, along with an undercurrent of something slightly disorientating (it could be the interesting shaking camera effect).

mint julep »aviary« from a nice idea every day on Vimeo.
It's taken from their upcoming new album, Save your season, which is due out in November through Village Green. There's also a Mogwai remix of this song, which will be available shortly - more about that anon.

Dirty Projectors + Bjork - On and ever onward (Domino)

As a quick follow-up to the recent news about the physical release of Dirty Projectors + Bjork's Mount Wittenberg Orca by Domino - we also mentioned the Dirty Projectors vocal technique, if you remember - there's a listening link now for one of the tracks so you can get the full benefit of hi-fi. It is the glorious On and ever onward and happens to be one of the best examples on the record of that distinctive, staggered or stacked, vocal technique (works best with headphones, I find). Can I recommend you take 10 minutes and 5 seconds out of your day, sit back and listen to it five times in a row.

Dirty Projectors + Björk - On and Ever Onward by DominoRecordCo

*I must add this, from the Domino press release -

The Projectors women Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian and Haley Dekle somehow bring the sexy back to 3-part melismatic contrapuntal organum.

I couldn't agree more!

Ennio Morricone - Are you in or out?

A few years ago, I came to a conclusion. I decided that the world was divided into two types of people. Not doctors and nurses, as Brendan Behan (quoting the English painter Constable, I think it was) once famously told Eamonn Andrews in an early Irish tv interview. The two types of people I'm talking about are

those who love Ennio Morricone
those who don't.

I decided that anyone who didn't appreciate the music of this man was a philistine, could not be trusted and could not be my friend. This radical division of humanity was brought on by immersing myself in More Mondo Morricone, a compilation brought out by the German Colosseum label in 1996. The subtitle on the album gives you key information about the content - "more mindblowing film themes by Ennio Morricone from Italian cult movies". (If ever a product description perfectly matched the contents, that is it.) This was the second in the Mondo Morricone series. There's a great review of the Trilogy Box…

Essie Jain, new songs

You know the way there are some things in the world that are almost too beautiful? Well two new songs from English-born-but-New-York-based Essie Jain fall into this category. Via the Dig for Fire website.

Essie Jain: Stand In The Light from Dig For Fire on Vimeo.
Essie Jain: Indefinable from Dig For Fire on Vimeo.
Jesus, I could listen to that all day. It's glorious. There's a kind of fragile quality about the music, but not gratuitously so - it's perfectly in keeping with the themes and arrangements of the songs. And not so wispy that it might disappear if you touched it either. Earthy, more adult.

I had in mind to post something about Essie for a while, since she brought out her last album of children's lullabies on her own label, Light in the Morning. This is from last January, on these pages.

Essie Jain - Until the light of morning (Light of Morning)
Already loved in the UOH bunker (one of my albums of last year before it was even released). No frills, it's prim…

Roll the Dice - Calling all workers (The Leaf Label)

We've mentioned Swedish duo Roll the Dice more than once recently, and now they've released the first track from their upcoming new album (In dust on The Leaf Label, Sept 12). It's an instrumental tune, Calling all workers, and features intoxicating layers of field recordings (the clarion call of a ringing bell), busy bass grooves and stately piano and vintage synth. It really is brilliant. The accompanying film by Frode Fjerdingstad uses an unexpectedly rural/seaside setting, but a close-up on the relentless industry of ants in the undergrowth recalls the "workers" of the title.

Roll The Dice - Calling All Workers from Roll The Dice on Vimeo.
And you can download it for free here. I haven't heard the whole album yet but on the basis of this it could be something.

Calling All Workers by Roll the Dice