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Best of 2013 Review - Part 2: Psych Pop/Krautrock/Ambient

Part 2 of my favourite music of the year, this one taking in various strands of psych and kraut sounds. As we know, there's plenty of psych in the water everywhere these days (a new Psych Fest in Liverpool, which had its second outing last September, is just one example close to home). In Cork in particular, a whole rash of bands are drawing on different parts of the broad psych church to great effect. I interviewed Cathal and Paddy from The Altered Hours in May (link here) and asked them why they thought there was an upsurge of psych influences at the moment. Cathal thought it might be down to the recent success of Tame Impala and he could well be right. Incidentally, I also wrote about this in terms of the Cork context on WeAreNoise back in March. Cork-based bands such as O Emperor (see below), Elastic Sleep (to come in Part 3) and even Saint Yorda (to come in Part 4) could all be identified with psych in some way.

http://wearenoise.com/index.php/2013/03/psych-is-the-glue-in-c…

Best of 2013 Review – Part 1: Folk/Orchestral/Chamber Pop/Classical

Happy New Year everyone. As the end of the year draws near, I’ve taken stock of my favourite music of 2013. Once again, my labels or categories are a little bit arbitrary but I have tried to theme or curate the lists as much as possible. This is the first of those, anchored by quite a bit of folk music, which I’m always open to. There will be three more of these over the next week or 10 days. And the last show of the year from mid December is also on this link for an hour long compendium drawn from all four posts.

http://i.mixcloud.com/CFKuxK

Peter Delaney – Sleep, nausea
A short piece on an album of extended meditations (which makes it even more compelling to me) from the Limerick folk musician with a commitment to early and vintage recordings. There’s a ukulele, a fragile, high register male voice and an atmosphere of middle-of-the-night fearfulness – “God tells me things I shouldn’t know.” Marvel at its spare brilliance.

Witch Bottle by Peter Delaney

Hidden Highways – Wild woe
Ano…

Dott Live in Cork and Debut Album Swoon

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One of my favourite albums of recent months was the debut by Galway's Dott, Swoon, a beautiful and stirring combination of garage pop and brilliantly delivered female vocal harmonies. I had the chance to see the band play live in Cork last month too which I usually find adds value to listening to any album. This was my review of the gig for WeAreNoise.

http://wearenoise.com/index.php/2013/11/dott-w-french-for-rabbits-tdc-triskel-arts-centre-cork-08-11-13/

Galway’s Dott were just setting up, a selection of multicoloured dot(t)s adorning the stage area suggestively and attractively. They came armed with debut album Swoon, although minus the official CD copies which had apparently suffered an unexpected rerouting to India. In compensation, singer Anna McCarthy announced that she had personally handmade 50 CD’s specially for the gig to go with the beautiful vinyl pacakges on the merch stall.

I was soon doing some swooning of my own as one of the star vocal turns from the album…

Christmas Podcast 2013

I didn't do a Christmas-dedicated show this year (there are a few Christmas songs each in the last few shows of the year) but I did in the end decide to put a Christmas podcast together. It builds a little on a Christmas show I did two years ago which you can find on this link.

http://theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.ie/2011/12/christmas-podcast.html

So here's the audio and below a few lines on the tunes involved.

The Underground of Happiness Xmas Podcast 2013 w/ Can,Gruff Rhys,Camera Obscura,Marvin Gaye,J Cash++ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Sceptics

I figured it might be a novel twist to start off with some Christmas doubting tunes, songs highlighting what's wrong with this time of year. I'm here to tell you that Bah Humbug can accommodate beautiful pop music.

1. Gruff Rhys – Post apocalypse Christmas

A great, flabby rock n roll groove in a song which imagines life after consumerism and waste. A kind of cross between The Road and T Rex, then, …

Georges Vert – Pegasus Dub (Melodic)

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A tremendous slice of kraut disco, with a lovely space dub undertone from the Normandy native whose head is filled with Raymond Scott and Giorgio Moroder.

And what inspiring persons to be filling your head those are.

Connan Mockasin – Caramel (from the album Caramel, Phantasy)

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If the out there New Zealander’s second album is a trip to the outer galaxies of Deep Funk, this is the luscious, succinct theme tune. Glassy guitars, a sensual vocal of Prince proportions and an insidious tune make this essential romantic music.



Mention as well to the album’s lead single ‘I’m the man, that will find you’ which is strange and wonderful in equal measure. Its combination of falsetto with on-helium singing makes the title refrain seem like the kind of creepy promise you might feel compelled to (probably ill-advisedly) encourage.

Playlist 292 - Dec 10 2013 - 2013 Review

The last show of the year is a playlist of 15 of my favourite tracks from 2013. You'll find more info on the songs around the blog. I will also be posting some other podcasts rounding up the rest of my favourite music of the year over the next few weeks - there's quite a bit. The next show is on Jan 7th. Happy Holidays.

Dec 10 2013 show - 2013 Review w/ Low,O Emperor,K-X-P,Circus Devils,V.O.,Bill Callahan,Cat Dowling++ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


www.theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/theundergroundofhappiness

Playlist 292 – 2013 Review
Tues Dec 10 2013
11.00am-12.00pm
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at www.ucc.ie/983fm
*listen back to this show here
http://i.mixcloud.com/CFKuxK


Playlist
Nancy Elizabeth – The last battle
Amor de Dias – Voice in the rose
Liam Singer – Unhand me (You horrid thing)
April March & Aquaserge – Des tics et des …

Playlist 291 - Dec 3 2013

A mixture this week of a few Christmas tunes, a few more Best of 2013 picks plus a few new tunes. (Watch out for dedicated podcasts on the Best of 2013 review as well as a Christmas theme over the next few weeks.)

Seasonal - Dean & Britta, lush dream pop channelling Lee Hazlewood; Cocteau Twins making flippant sound like a headrush; and Lost Idol bringing medieval choral sounds and dubstep brilliantly into contact with each other.

Best of 2013 - Dott singing classic Brill Building style songs within garage pop; Shearwater w/ Sharon van Etten, ineffably gorgeous; Jeffrey Lewis making one of the best statements of the year in the form of a question - What Would Pussy Riot Do?

And a couple of new songs. Howe Gelb with Bonnie Prince Billy, sounding like Leonard Cohen doing 1950's country. And Frankie Rose making pillow-soft synth pop from the New Order songbook.

More on these pages.

Dec 3 2013 show w/ Dott,September Girls,Jeffrey Lewis,Shearwater,Dean & Britta…

SlowPlaceLikeHome - Interview & Cork Show

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I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of seeing SlowPlaceLikeHome play live, when they appeared at the TDC space of Triskel Arts Centre in Cork as part of a kind of fringe to Cork Film Festival. They've only played a handful of times live but you'd think they'd been at it for years, such was the confidence and poise of the sound.

I also interviewed Keith Mannion (the main brains behind SPLH) in advance of that gig for WeAreNoise, to ask him about the upcoming debut album, Romola, his recording process and some other stuff. It was particularly interesting to hear his thoughts on how sounds take shape and suggest themselves into something enduring. Here's an excerpt.

http://wearenoise.com/index.php/2013/11/slowplacelikehome-qa/

After your three EP’s last year, Coastal hubs for chivalry, Post-hoc and There go the lights again, will the album consist of new material?

Totally new material. I think I have gone through a dozen different drafts of the new album at this stag…

Major Lazer feat Ezra Koenig – Jessica (Because)

I’m not a huge reggae head but this is just the most luscious reggae jam with perfect, smart and yearning falsetto vocals from Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.

Yes.

Dan Haywood – Dapple (Southern Bird)

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A completely captivating album of English folk songs recorded outdoors in Lancashire with backing of birdsong. Mr Haywood is apparently also an ornithologist so this background bleed was no accident but part of his plan, as he relates here.

Given that Dapple could be set in the 18th century, I was keen for there to be no motor vehicle noise, just in case the listener might prefer to imagine it that way. So the locations had to be out of the way, and some of the sessions started as early as 4am to beat the sound of the Abbeystead gamekeepers’ Land Rovers and Bowland farmers’ tractors. Days on which the breeze might gust above 5mph were avoided, which was good for reducing wind noise and for a preponderance of midges.

Top notch stuff, eh? His singing voice is somewhere between Vic Chesnutt and Latka Gravas; this may not be to everyone's taste but wrapped around these pastoral-historical story songs, I dig it in a major way.

Playlist 290 - Nov 26 2013

Let's start by mentioning something glorious in the middle of the show, Band of Clouds (pictured), and the opening song from their new album Appear to float. Great to hear from them again.

Another beautiful Daniel Johnston cover from Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston upcoming album; some Lee Hazlewood deep + soulful country lounge; and a Go Betweens classic from 1982, 'Dusty in here' sounds as good today.

Some bonkers funk from Connan Mockasin, some bonkers folk from Dan Haywood (with birdsong) and the sublime piano meditations of Angele David-Guillou.

Plus Dublin band Tin Charm, bringing plenty of charm, melody and heart to some fuzzy Dinosaur Jr-esque guitar rock.

Nov 26 2013 show w/ Go Betweens,Connan Mockasin,Band of Clouds,Angele David-Guillou,Jacques Caramac+ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


www.theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/theundergroundofhappiness

P…

Playlist 289 - Nov 19 2013

Another bumper crop of Irish music on the show this week.

New music from Adrian Crowley with James Yorkston, September Girls, Elastic Sleep, My Pilot and Benny Smiles. Folk to shoegaze and many points in between.

A bit of Moondog - every day should have some - and a great song from the new Dean Wareham EP, so good to hear from him again.

I've been enjoying the new Piper's Son album very much lately, find more on it on the blog. Beautiful ambient piano work (if that's not a misnomer) from Richard J Birkin.

And some dub to finish. Georges Vert taking us into deep space, Bill Callahan more of a funk variety, speaking of fertile dirt, lovemaking and other essential things.

More on these pages.

Nov 19 2013 w/ Moondog,Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston,Elastic Sleep,Dean Wareham,Bill Callahan++ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


www.theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com…

Piper’s Son – The roar from behind (Vacilando ’68)

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What a lovely album this is, from Londoner Thom Driver with friends, lying somewhere between the wry social observations of Darren Hayman and the outsider introspections of Syd Barrett. So, very English you might think except that lyrically these songs are painfully direct, in a fairly unEnglish way.

Draw me things you’d love to see
and I can fill the colours in
then we’ll smudge the lines
and feel them running up and down our spines


from ‘Please don’t go backwards’ or this from ‘Fingers from the future’ –

I saw your hand-me-down in the fireplace
after mother left for town
are you strangled by your emotions
do you wish you had the key.


The latter proceeds luminously at funeral pace and with its skeleton guitar lines brings to mind a little bit that poignant Go Betweens classic ‘Cold and dusty in here’.

I’ve already played ‘Mining’ on the show, an inspired mixture of ska, calypso trumpet and cartoon soundtracks, which bemoans the psychological hazards of (western world) c…

Kramies - Clocks were all broken (from The Wooden Heart EP, Hidden Shoal)

A lovely piece of drifting dream pop from the Denver resident.

This track features and was produced by Jason Lytle ex-Grandaddy and you can hear a little of the ache that was so apparent in that band's music in the hazy synths and swirling melody here.

The Wooden Heart by Kramies