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Showing posts from September, 2014

Jennifer Castle – Truth is the freshest fruit (from the album Pink city, No Quarter Records)

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Jennifer Castle is a new name on me but she’s a well-seasoned session musician and vocalist in Canadian - specifically Toronto - circles, as well as having several albums of her own under her belt (this is the second under her own name, previously she used Castlemusic). This wonderful opening tune on her new album has managed to stop me in my tracks every time so far, it’s hard to get past it.

‘Truth is the freshest fruit’ starts out with a ghostly folk tinge but takes on a brighter, more uptempo feel courtesy of a sublimely warm and throbbing string arrangement by Owen Pallett. There’s something about it that reminds me of one of those Bobbie Gentry cautionary swingalongs - maybe a slightly muted version – full of drama and intrigue while remaining brilliantly low-key. And even while sounding like a folk song, there’s a lovely AM radio quality to her voice, a smoothness, a restraint.

Just when you think it can’t get any better, later on there’s a glorious dash of sun-dappled p…

Playlist 325 - Sept 23 2014

A couple of great new things this week from female artists.

Laetitia Sadier is back with a new album. It's great, the track we played has an unexpected and beautiful Burt Bacharach flavour. And Jennifer Castle is doing folk with another gorgeous string arrangement.

Also, new music from Ariel Pink, always great to hear from that mad genius; Cork band The Vincent(s) being remixed by the guy from The Dandy Warhols; The Asteroid #4 playing Liverpool Psych Fest this w'end; Paul Smith & Peter Brewis with an intoxicating chamber pop piece.

Broderick & Barnes "singing on the radio" and Anthony Reynolds making a torch song out of loneliness.

More on the blog.

Sept 23 2014 w/ Laetitia Sadier,Jennifer Castle,Rachael Dadd,NLF3,Ariel Pink,The Vincent(s),Jim Noir by The Underground Of Happiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


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

Playl…

Sean Nicholas Savage – Heartless (from the album Bermuda Waterfall, Arbutus Records)

I haven’t had my eye on Montreal I realised. Sometimes happens, says you. Then I got an e-mail from the lovely Plugd Events people about upcoming shows at Triskel Arts Centre here in Cork.

Among the Amen Dunes and Girl Band listings was the unknown-to-me Sean Nicholas Savage. “Once a staple of Montreal's all-night illegal party scene” ran the tag. Intriguing already, wouldn’t you agree? (And by the way shouldn’t every city worth its salt have an all-night illegal party scene?)

I did a bit of digging and found a beguiling brand of bedroom soul, a concoction of home-made beats, gentle guitar picks and trashy synths, with the coup de grace of Mr Savage’s yearning high register vocal.

I arrived at this year’s album Bermuda Waterfall which has a series of memorable underground (all-night/illegal) pop tunes. But I’m highlighting ‘Heartless’, it really is the most beautiful and poignant thing.

I suppose because it has such potentially cheesy elements – drum pads rescued from…

Silver Servants – Jerusalem (from the s/t album, Second Language Records)

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My favourite song from a beautiful album of folk, psych and chamber pop strands, with some baroque and minimalist shapes for good measure, put together by a kind of English underground pop supergroup based around a core of Second Language artists.

This tune is derived from a poem by William Blake and lands gorgeously on the dreamy psych pop end of the scale. Anna Bronsted of Our Broken Garden sings through a haze of clip-clop drum machines, circling Spanish guitar and the most perfect trumpet part in the second half. There’s also whistling involved. The song doesn’t seem to reside fully in either a major or minor key, so there’s a slightly disorientating effect. Plus there’s a strange feeling of something ancient wrapped in something modern. Surrender to the blur anyway, it’s glorious.

The album features the mother of all collaborative efforts, of the like perhaps not seen since Ivo Watts-Russell persuaded the considerable talents of the 4AD roster of the mid 1980s to record …

Playlist 324 - Sept 16 2014

Something of a sombre/sedate/low-key tone to this week's show, it goes like that sometimes.

Gospel meditation from Peter Broderick from a couple years back, he plays Cork soon. So does Sean Nicholas Savage, making gorgeous bedroom soul.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums exploring the overlap between rhythm and desire, thrillingly.

Sumptuous jazz pop from Bill Wells and (mostly Japanese) friends; spare piano from Soley; Bell Gardens with lovely drifting drones; A Winged Victory For The Sullen, orchestral grandeur; Little Tornados, quixotic dream pop.

Then two Second Language releases to finish. Silver Servants (pictured below the cover of their s/t album), a kind of English underground pop supergroup, with glorious dreamy psych pop. And Mark Fry (who is also part of Silver Servants) channelling Bert Jansch to great effect.

More on these pages as always.

Sept 16 2014 w/ Bill Wells,Bell Gardens,Soley,Little Tornados,SIlver Servants,Wildbirds&Peacedrums++ by The Underground…

Sir Henry's Podcasts

Over the summer, I took part in a recording of a round table chat about Sir Henry’s from the early 1980s until early 2000s. This was to coincide with the Sir Henry’s Exhibition which runs at The Boole Library in UCC until September 25th and is well worth a visit. It manages to go beyond a mere nostalgia exercise to provide a document of the period, a social history even, of the sub-cultures that gravitated around the legendary rock and later club venue. By extension, there's a hidden history of Cork music and Cork in general running through the exhibition. Updates on facebook here and associated blog here - http://sirhenrys2014.wordpress.com/.

The recording was organised by Jim Morrish who presents the Odds n Sods show on UCC98.3FM, and also featured Paul McDermott of Dublin City FM (also formerly of UCC98.3FM) and Morty McCarthy of The Sultans of Ping. All four of us were qualified only in this way – we're all music fans and had attended loads of gigs in Sir Henry’s over …

SlowPlaceLikeHome – Romola (Bluestack Records)

If you take a flick around these pages over the last couple of years, you'll find plenty of mention of SlowPlaceLikeHome (the search function will do it if you're stuck for time). I first heard the name in January 2012, having been tipped the wink by Albert of Plugd Records here in Cork. That was an EP, the enigmatically titled Coastal hubs for chivalry and I was immediately interested. Another two EPs followed over the following 18 months, each one a beguiling mixture of kosmische, folk and jazz tones, shoegaze and an element of the dreamier end of trip-hop. The debut album of SPLH was released a few weeks ago and here's a review of it I wrote for WeAreNoise (a couple of minor edits since original publication). Suffice to say the album is highly recommended.

http://wearenoise.com/slowplacelikehome-romola-bluestack-records/

It’s great to finally see and hear the self-produced debut album by SlowPlaceLikeHome, aka Keith Mannion from Donegal, following a series of each-one…

Astronauts – Hollow ponds (Lo Recordings)

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Another album that got lost in the summer recess and backlog but well worth waiting around for.

A return from Dan Carney (ex Dark Captain) and an album which beautifully carries on the thread of spooked folk and krautrock beats from his former band.

Opener ‘Skydive’ immediately sets out the beguliing combination of hushed vocals, sombre drums and plucked acoustic guitars, later joined by some mournful, long-bowed cello. It’s low-key but positively haunting.

‘Everything’s a system, everything’s a sign’ next adds some droning clarinet to create a great reedy undertow.

‘Vampires’ then changes the tone brilliantly with buzzing electric guitar power chords and percussive scrapes against a jerky breakbeat. The nervous energy of the arrangement perfectly captures the vague disquiet of the lyric.

‘Spanish archer’ employs a mid-range tug of E-bow against a chorus of “ba-ba-bas” which just can’t be denied.

And the album keeps these high standards. Wherever you turn, thrummin…

Playlist 323 - Sept 9 2014

Another extended show this week, great to have time to pull out a few old treasures, along with the huge backlog of excellent recent releases, plus music from acts on tour in the autumn.

The former category, 'Bonnie & Clyde' by Serge & Brigitte, that inspired and ageless slice of psych pop with the best ever "woo-hoo" in pop music (the giddy playfulness between them is a lovely subtext); Donnie & Joe Emerson, two Oregon farming brothers making bedroom pop sound fucking essential in 1979; and Cluster making pastoral, sky-gazing kosmische.

The latter category, Amen Dunes, bringing their beautiful 1000 yard drones to Ireland this month; likewise Sean Nicholas Savage (pic), gorgeous bedroom soul from Montreal; SlowPlaceLikeHome, fuzzy and warm electronica from Donegal; Tennis, heart-melting white soul.

And Pye Corner Audio, bringing the autobahn compellingly to English underground pop.

Sept 9 2014 Hr 1 w/ Serge & Brigitte,Amen Dunes,Sean Nichola…

Playlist 322 - Sept 2 2014

A special extended 2-hour show this week to usher us back in after the August recess. And there was quite the backlog of stonking new music to get through.

Like Wildbirds & Peacedrums, stripping the punk out of punk funk to leave you with something sounding like Nina Simone jamming with LCD Soundsystem. And Caribou, with more delicious deep soul/house grooves.

There's some gorgeous new folk cuts from Rachael Dadd, Lutine and Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler finishing this first hour.

Some intriguing psych from Brother Earth, and cosmic country from The Asteroid #4.

And kosmische from the debut SlowPlaceLikeHome album, that's a beaut; and the new Laetitia Sadier project, Little Tornados. Like The Fall, she's always the same, always different.

Plus a Japanese memory from 1996 by Takako Minekawa, alongside something from her new album with Dustin Wong, the completely unhinged and wonderful slice of wonky pop that is 'She he see feel'.

Sept 2 2014 …