Showing posts from June, 2013

The Last Sound - Rainbow Xplode (Osaka)

And finally in this Irish round-up, The Last Sound. Actually this is a band you'll find in these pages before. It's one man, Barry Murphy, for the most part and his single of a couple of years ago 'Only the lonely know the glow is failing' was on constant play around here. The album is a brilliant fusion of pop tunes and dirty industrial noise. Doesn't sound promising? You need to hear it. Again, this review from the pages of WeAreNoise.

The 5th studio album from Dubliner Barry Murphy, with Bryan O’Connell on drums, could be the perfect Irish summer record – shards of sun through dirty black clouds.

The most impressive feature of the album for me is its capacity to carry genuine and lasting pop hooks on board waves of filthy background hum and industrial noise. Melodies, synth chugs and hummable bass parts literally trip over themselves in a race to the pop funny bone but are ultim…

Cat Dowling - The believer (Can Do Records)

Another album I've been playing plenty on the show for the last couple of months is the debut from Cat Dowling. It's a beautifully subtle piece of work that bears repeated listening as they say. This was my review for WeAreNoise.

This is Cat Dowling’s debut solo album, having been involved with Alphastates for two previous long players. Her voice hints at blues, gospel, roots, with a hushed tone and a warm, lived-in tenor. There are no histrionics, little vibrato, just a matter-of-factness to the delivery which is very refreshing. With connotations like that, it’s no wonder she signed an international publishing deal recently.

The arrangements, though, are the key to this record I think - any record really. (The production, which is also impressive, is credited to Dowling with Gerry Horan and Karl Odlum; we might assume that the arrangement duties were similarly shared.) The album actually…

O Emperor - Vitreous (Big Skin)

There have been a few really good Irish albums released of late which I've reviewed over on WeAreNoise and I'm going to repost here. First up, O Emperor with their second album. They are five lads from Waterford but who have been living in Cork for a number of years. They signed with Universal Ireland for their first album but have taken control themselves with Vitreous. And what a great decision because it's a fantastic record with a load of absolutely killer hooks and tunes on it.

Here's the text.

"Let me put my cards on the table. I was lukewarm about O Emperor until recently. I always thought they were musically accomplished but until now the songs didn’t quite hold up for me. (There might be a story to be told about their experience with a major label for their debut album versus this self-produced follow-up but that’s for another day.) With Vitreous however, the band have torn up the rules relating to the difficult second album by producing an emoti…

Playlist 272 - June 25 2013

We lead off with Low and Colleen this week, two artists coming to Cork later this year. 'Just make it stop' is the most glorious, soulful song of the year, while the whole of the Colleen album, The weighing of the heart, is like a treasure trove of found sounds magically coalescing into poetic musical works. There's a review of the album on the blog.

More also from The Last Sound and Eat Lights Become Lights, both keeping the motorik pulse alive and well in 2013.

There was Oliver Cole sounding just like a 'Little wolf' (wah-ooo), some great scattergun pop from Kiran Leonard, sun-baked folk from Plankton Wat and very endearing blue-eyed soul from Hero & Leander.

And Halves, from their sublime new album Boa Howl. We'll have an interview with them on the show next week.

June 25 2013 Show w/ Oliver Cole,Halves,The Last Sound,Colleen,Eat Lights Become Lights,Little Bear+ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness

Colleen – The weighing of the heart (Second Language)

The first album in 6 years from Cécile Schott aka Colleen brings an intriguing earthy spiritualism and a meditational atmosphere built around a core of layered hushed vocals, circling classical guitar and viola de gamba motifs. The sense of meditational music is only added to by the use of toy gamelan, bells and chimes.

The album unfolds as a series of vignettes or episodes based around pastoral settings – ‘Push the boat onto the sand’, ‘The moon like a bell’, ‘Humming fields’. I love the way ‘Push the boat...’ develops a lovely flowering arrangement, gathering loops of vocals and plucked strings before stripping back again. The brilliant combination of woodwind, drum and shakers on the instrumental ‘Going forth by day’. On ‘Breaking up the earth’, the pairing of tuned drums and high-toned plucked strings, with under the breath humming making for quite a shamanic display. And the burst of church organ two-thirds way through ‘Moonlit sky’ after an opening of oboe and plucked string…

Playlist 271 - June 18 2013

More Thrill Jockey nuggets this week. More drone nuggets. More psych pop nuggets. More ambient nuggets (that's probably not the right word for those).

Date Palms (pictured below) with a great gradually evolving drone that shimmers like the desert sun, Grumbling Fur with some wonderful electro pop. Eat Lights Become Lights bringing the motorik. O Emperor with the soulful psych pop. Pieter Nooten and Jumpel with two takes on a European ambient sound.

New Camera Obscura, sublime. New Halves feat Gemma Hayes, intriguing & swooning. Deerhunter with the dream pop, Pierre Henry & Pierre Schaefer with the groundbreaking musique concrete.

All We Are with the "Bee Gees on diazepam" (love that description and it sounds good too). Bibio with some great summery folktronica. Eleanor Friedberger with a lovely mod-soul take on coming out.

As ever, more on these pages

June 18 2013 w/ O Emperor,Halves,Date Palms,Eat Lights Become Lights,Grumbling Fur,Bibio,Camera Obs+

Low – Just make it stop (from The invisible way, Sub Pop)

Photo: Simone della Fornace

An earlier version of this piece first appeared on WeAreNoise.

Among many beautiful moments on the new Low album, there's one song that takes the cake for me.

So far I've found it hard to get past this absolute showstopper with Mimi on lead.

It's a curious mixture, as always with Low, the beauty of the suspended-state-of-grace vocals with, in this case, a quietly sinister, thrumming guitar and an upright piano way at back of the room.

You see I'm close to the edge
I'm at the end of my rope
The rope is starting to thread
I'm trying to keep my hold

But when she reaches the refrain and about another five Mimis join in on those seven simple words, it'll be all you can do to keep your composure.

If I could just make it stop
Breaking my heart
Get out of the way

The essence of soul.

Tell you what, have a bit of the conversation-stopping 'Plastic cup' as we're at it - even though Al…

Deerhunter – Back to the middle (from Monomania, 4AD)

I found it hard to get into the new Deerhunter album. I like fuzz and distortion as much as the next man but most of Monomania seemed to be wrapped in a cotton wool ball of it.

Single 'Back to the middle' though had enough zing to plough through the production, thanks to a lovely sliding guitar pattern, an inspired middle eight filled with bleepy keys and a thoroughly simple and brilliant guitar solo.

A tune that remembered the pop in psych-pop, essentially.

TEEN – Better (from the album In limbo, Carpark Records)

I have a bit of catching up to do around here so let's start with this belated mention.

TEEN are four women out of Brooklyn, three sisters and a friend, who make thrilling psych pop with attitude. (Teeny Lieberson, one of the sisters who gives the band its name, used to be in Here We Go Magic.)

Their album In limbo came out last autumn on Carpark Records, mixed and produced with the great Sonic Boom. I don’t want to bore you all with boo-hoo promo-submission stories, but this one languished in the digital pile until now.

Anyway, the lightning is finally out of the bottle.

Start with 'Better', a Velvets-style piano motif laid over gurgling bass synths and tribal drums that just keeps on going. It really is the shit.

I’ll do it better, I’ll do it better, I’ll do it better than anybody else, ha

You will believe them.

Check ‘Electric’ as well, a brilliantly garage-y bassline-with-plain-as-pie-snarebeat, that rises to a stunning crescendo with multiple vocals a…

Playlist 270 - June 11 2013

More from a few of my favourite current albums on the show this week (it's usually the way).

V.O. from Brussels with a beautiful jazzy drift, produced by John McEntire, who of course is one of Tortoise. And from that band's 1998 album TNT, 'Suspension bridge...' is one of the highpoints of the Tortoise canon for me.

O Emperor will win a lot of new friends with their second album Vitreous - I like it more every day. I hear shades of late 60s Beach Boys in there, although submerged under a heap of other great ideas. How better to appreciate it than next to a classic from Sunflower (1970). And Cork band Sans Chateaux draw a little on some of those vocal stylings too, quite brilliantly also.

The Last Sound's (pic) Rainbow Xplode is another fantastic (Irish) album, electronic pop music with grooves to burn and killer melodies. And anyone in need of healing drones, you need some Fuxa.

Nancy Elizabeth, love her of course. Peter Delaney, another complete one-off, an…

Playlist 269 - June 4 2013

The new album from Dublin's The Last Sound comes out this week, we started the show with their knockout single from a couple of years ago taken from it, followed by more great drones from Date Palms.

The new O Emperor album comes out soon too, it's very interesting, more from that over the next few weeks. More tasty Irish music in the shape of Cat Dowling, Floor Staff, Enemies & Sundernix.

The Collision/Detection Box Set is out in June, from that wonderful series we heard Hong Kong in the 60s and Sone Institute.

And something of a double play for Michael Rother, first drumming with Melbourne's Beaches (pictured), then in his own right with a NEU! classic from 1975. Somehow, motorik is sunny music.

June 4 2013 Show w/ O Emperor,Beaches,NEU!,Date Palms,The Last Sound,Cat Dowling,Olof Arnalds++ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed…