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Showing posts from November, 2014

Playlist 334 - Nov 25 2014

I'm big on The Chills lately (always really), their new Peel Sessions album is great and good to hear it in glorious stereo, from 1988 but sounding as fresh as a daisy.

Paul Smith & Peter Brewis have produced one of the albums of this year, sublime chamber pop accompanying superior travel musings.

Hiss Golden Messenger spreading their wings after a few years being a hidden treasure. Kevin Murphy with a new song that picks up where last year's wonderful LoveHate album left off.

Also briliant cuts from Silver Apples, Kemper Norton, Elisa Luu, and more. It's all good.

More on these pages.

Nov 25 2014 w/ The Chills,HGM,SIlver Apples,Elisa Luu,Paul Smith/Peter Brewis,Voix Bulgares++ by The Underground Of Happiness on Mixcloud

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Playlist 334
Tues Nov 25 2014
11.00am-12.00pm
(repeated on …

Wildbirds & Peacedrums – Rhythm (Leaf)

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The 4th album from Swedish husband & wife duo Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin is all about the blues. Although not necessarily the blues as you know them.

There is the pain of the blues, the desire of the blues, the tension and release, the insistent rhythm of the blues.

That’s not to say that it’s miserable or depressing, far from it. It’s one of the most invigorating records you’ll hear. But all the songs revolve around that blues hub.

So the opener ‘Ghosts and pains’ sets a series of vocal sighs, gasps and gospel flourishes above a repeating drum tattoo. Knockout single ‘The offbeat’ takes a more strident tone, Werliin exploring the limits of the snare drum while Wallentin implores and pleads as if her life depends on it.

That’s the thing with Wildbirds & Peacedrums, you always get the feeling that they are committed, to the core. It makes listening to them a thrilling experience.

‘Mind blues’ mentions the genre explicitly but the scattergun of perc…

Jessica Pratt – Back, baby (Drag City, single)

This Los Angeles-based singer was a new name on me lately but this first taste from her upcoming album is absolutely intoxicating.

And it kinda shows up the limitations of writing down words about someone else producing sounds. Because this song is made up of such apparently simple raw materials. And describing them in words does no justice to the enduring atmosphere they create.

A Spanish guitar, strummed lightly and sunnily, although the lyrics undercut the breeziness with sombre reflections about love lost. In fact, repeated listens reveal a disapproving or even caustic tone wrapped in the soft, gentle musical skin.

And Pratt’s voice.

That’s it, apart from a few harmony vocals and some double tracked guitar here and there. Plus the swing, bordering on samba. And the major seventh chords.

Except her vocal delivery and phrasing are endlessly intriguing. The one word I find myself coming back to again and again is “time”, as in “if there was a time that you loved me”.…

Playlist 333 - Nov 18 2014

We kicked off with psych pop this week in the shape of the new Liam Hayes (Plush) single, that's great, there's an album to follow called Slurrup. And 'Getting better', an outstanding Beatles classic and my favourite song from Sgt Pepper.

A couple of recent obsessions. Dan Michaelson, that deep cracking voice, the musical chemistry, gorgeous. And Jessica Pratt, that voice lilting over a swinging acoustic. Inspired.

Mid show, three jangly guitar pop gems from A Lazarus Soul, The Chills & Theatre Royal, it does the soul good.

Then a bit of a switch for the close. Lubomyr Melnyk with handsome piano melodies, Markus Mehr with a compellingly beautiful combination of found sounds, industrial rumbles and elegiac piano.

Something new from Silver Apples, bleeping bouncing, and something old and thrilling from Bruce Haack.

More on the blog.

Nov 18 2014 w/ Liam Hayes,Jessica Pratt,The Chills,Altered Hrs,Silver Apples,Bruce Haack,M Mehr++ by The Underground Of …

Alien Ensemble – Modest farewell (from the s/t album on Alien Transistor)

You’ll know the name Micha Acher from his bands The Notwist and Tied & Tickled Trio. This Alien Ensemble sees him hook up with some old friends, including a couple of colleagues from The Notwist.

There’s nothing electronic here though. The instrumentation consists of double bass, drums, vibraphone, trumpet, saxophone, trombone.

It’s the sound of jazz alright but the key is the word ensemble, a wonderfully sympathetic band ambience, miles away from that awful “series of soloists” you sometimes get in the so-called upper reaches of the genre. It’s satisfyingly democratic, everyone working in service to the tune, not just holding a spotlight on the leader.

I particularly love the brass and reed build towards the end here, accompanied by a busying flurry of high hat.

Tasty, groovy and unassuming – three good things on a plate.

Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards – Bones (single, The State51 Conspiracy)

A completely gorgeous reflection on the ending of love.

Michaelson’s voice first. It’s so low it seems like it’s about to fall off the end of the register, on the verge of cracking apart any second.

Then the sumptuous arrangement. Keening cello, weeping pedal steel, subdued clean electric guitar, pitter-patter brushed drums.

It’s the orthopedic mattress memory foam of musical beds to wallow in and ranks up there with Lambchop in terms of musical chemistry made in heaven.

Truly memorable.

Mark Fry – Aeroplanes (from the album South wind, clear sky, Second Language Records)

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I found it hard to get past this opening song on Fry’s new album, a welcome return from the veteran folk artist who has been pursuing a career as a painter when not playing music.

With those wonderful cello drones and flurries of fingerpicked acoustic guitar, allied with a pastoral, dreamlike atmosphere, it plays like a companion to the Bert Jansch song ‘The black swan’, itself a modern classic.

Where Jansch was describing a vaguely sci-fi future, Fry seems to be dreaming of a re-imagined, idyllic present.

You listen to this and find yourself drifting on a stratospheric current just like the silver bird in the song.

It’s uplifting and quite beautiful.

Benjamin Schoos feat. April March – J’ai essayé de t’aimer (Freaksville)

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Sumptuous, string-laden pop gem from the Freaksville label founder Benjamin Schoos with the help of his accomplice April March, which summons the spirit of Serge & Jane as well as the sweep of Stereolab.

There’s a great bittersweet quality to the lyric obviously – “I tried to love you” bringing to mind Gainsbourg’s break-up classic ‘Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais” (“I’ve come to tell you that I’m going”) – but it’s the marvellous arrangement that carries off the tune via a series of stirring contrasts.

The voices – March floating among the clouds, Schoos occupying a much earthier place – the soaring string parts against the bouncing backbeat, the smoothness of the synths against the bass pulses.

It all amounts to a marvellous, timeless piece of work and another Freaksville treasure.

J'ai essayé de t'aimer by Benjamin Schoos & April March

Playlist 332 - Nov 11 2014

We opened this week's show with Dublin group Seti The First who play Cork this weekend as part of Cork Film Festival (apologies for the glitch during this piece, and premature ending). Their second album is on the way soon, I can't wait. As film is in the air this week, we also had some classic Henry Mancini, plus equally classic lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Lambchop play their album Nixon at Dublin's National Concert Hall next February, any excuse to play the wonderful 'Up with people' from that album. East River Pipe are labelmates of The 'Chop, kindred spirits too, as is Ariel Pink I would say, even though musically not obviously related. All three are examples of truly great modern American songwriters.

Jessica Pratt making a simple folk song sound like the first time it's ever been sung on earth. The slow burn of the new José Gonzalez single. The masterful twist and bend of Caribou, the (off)beat and throb of Wildbirds & Peacedrums.

And Benjamin S…

Playlist 331 - Nov 4 2014

I had the huge pleasure of seeing Future Islands play live in Dublin last weekend - they finished their show with the fantastic 'Tin man', I've started mine with it. Sleaford Mods too, touring Ireland next month, and putting some vicious vim and bounce back into protest songs.

The Go Betweens sounding sunny and carefree from 1979. Fellow Aussies Twerps sounding similarly endearing.

Another ghostly, late-night folk creation from Kemper Norton and Chloe March with glorious dream pop, perhaps with a debt to Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Mid-section of the show, three crooners of the highest order; Liam Hayes (Plush), back with a new album in January, Rumer with a voice like velvet and Harry Nilsson making desire and longing sound absolutely gut-wrenching.

Plus Merchandise, bringing a wonderful white soul vocal to slinky rock guitar songs.

More on these pages as always.

Nov 4 2014 w/ Future Islands,Sleaford Mods,Go Betweens,Twerps,Jennifer Castle,Merchandise++ by The Und…