Showing posts from August, 2015

Laura Cannell – Two winters (from the album Beneath swooping talons, Front & Follow)

Another singular Front & Follow release from the English multi-instrumentalist Laura Cannell.

The instrument on show in this track is the remarkable sounding double recorder, which seems to combine notes from different registers. The best comparison I can think of is the uilleann pipes with the drone operating underneath the melody line.

The effect is something between medieval music and the freaked folk of The Wicker Man soundtrack. A rural sound certainly, a cousin of birdsong but with bracing notes of dissonance. This from the press release sums it up nicely.

Tapping the potent rural landscape and long-dormant musical modes, this album encompasses both wild animal calls and long forgotten liturgical chords, which drawn through Laura’s music seem to originate from the same ahistorical place.

It’s tremendous and is guaranteed to make you forget about social media for a while.

*This second album track showcases Laura’s other main instrument, the violin, again drawing …

The Doomed Bird of Providence – I weave through the trees (from the You brought the knife EO, Front & Follow)

Another compelling release from Mark Kluzek and friends which builds on previous explorations of early Australian colonial history.

It is wonderfully atmospheric and evocative, thick with drama and intrigue underscored by sawing strings and rowdy percussion.

This treatment gives a kind of doom folk meets cabaret feel, an incongruous but authentic sound very much supportive of the subject matter.

For their forthcoming release The Doomed Bird of Providence have been busy developing musical pieces based on one person who perhaps no one would know about were it not for some of the historical reseach taking place in Tasmania. That person is Maria Murray, a woman born into slavery in British Honduras (now Belize) in the early 19th century. Her story took many turns, often for the worst but sometimes for the better. The song ‘Fedicia Exine’ from the band’s first album ‘Will Ever Pray’ is loosely based on her life and that of her child – Fedicia.

This EP attempts create a broade…

The Chap – Jammer (Lo Recordings)

This came out a couple of months ago. The first new music in a few years from a band I am very fond of, from the upcoming new album of "political rock songs".

On paper their music doesn’t always sound promising, taking as it does elements of Frank Zappa, Deerhoof and krautrock – not natural bedfellows you might say.

This tune features an angular post-punk rhythm – the kind fans of the bad will be familiar with – combined with a shapeshifting melody.

Where before satire has been employed to undercut the grandiose claims of artists (‘We work in bars’), here vocals are dispensed with altogether so that the humour has a more abstract feel.

Well there are vocals, just not words. One voice uses a daydreaming “ba-dee-n-da-da” motif as the main line. The second is something between a forced cough and an exclamation of disgust, not a million miles from a Harry Enfield or even Kenny Everett character tic. The two (on the face of it unrelated) vocal lines are looped and sp…

Ezra Furman – Restless year (from the album Perpetual motion people, Bella Union)

Fantastic opening gambit from the lipsticked one which picks up from where his last album left off.

That is to say, rollicking between the eyes Violet Femmesesque rock and roll complete with fuzz bass, doo wop vocals and pots and pans percussion.

These lines, roared in gravelly tones, are as good a way as any to sum up Furman’s manifesto -

Making the rounds in my five dollar dress
I can’t go home though I’m not homeless
I’m just another savage in the wilderness
And if you can’t come down you can listen to this

There’s also pencil thin garage rock organ, Dostoyevsky and meditations on death.

It’s thrilling hip-shaking brain-tickling stuff.

Paperface – Amsterdam (from the album Out of time, Daydream Records)

A few other short cuts before the end of the month.

Wonderfully wry orchestral pop from a slightly mysterious figure who works out of a studio in an abandoned lighthouse apparently.

There’s a hint of the majesty of Blur’s heyday, kitchen sink drama in sweeping cinemascope but rooted in the vernacular.

And delighted to be free
Ordered two more large whiskeys
Thanked our hostess very much
And descended on the Dutch

In this case a lads’ trip to Amsterdam provides the plot. And more than a touch of The Beach Boys in the glorious swooping backing vocals.

It’s got a real touch of class, this.

August Wells – Here in the wild (FIFA Records)

Back to the Best of 2015 Mid Year Review. Here’s a tune that featured in that set from a group playing in Ireland soon and released on local Cork stalwarts FIFA Records.

August Wells is Ken Griffin (the creative mind behind the groups Rollerskate Skinny, Kid Silver and Favourite Sons) and John Rauchenberger (New York pianist who has played with The Favourite Sons, Maggie Estep and Daniel Carter among others). Their music has just begun to make its mark, but already has been described as “strange other worldly chamber music”, “Sinatra singing Lou Reed songs” and “a secret marriage of Willy Nelson and Lee Hazlewood”. It could also be described as songs to walk across your troubled heart.”

Interesting reference points, says you. On this song, that core duo of piano and voice is augmented by a gorgeous sympathetic arrangement of strings, flute and saxophone. Sympathetic to the song. Enhancing it.

It’s kinda louche, a bit sad and very lovely and in a certain light it’s almost …

Blank Realm – River of longing (Fire Records)

I did a Best of 2015 Mid Year round up last month, about 1 hour of my favourite music of the year so far. Obviously there was no way I could fit everything I liked into 1 hour – I could easily have filled another hour or two.

This song would certainly have made the 2nd hour, the lead track from the new album by Brisbane band Blank Realm, Illegals in heaven, amazingly their 10th by my count. I say amazingly because I only heard of the band for the first time last year. It’s not every day a “new” band with an 8/9 album back catalogue comes on your radar. And for that thanks to Fire Records who are bringing them out this side of the world, following previous outings on other esteemed labels Not Not Fun and Bedroom Suck.

Anyway, Blank Realm explore various strands of psych rock - motorik rhythms, jagged thrashing or chiming heart-piercing guitars and compelling semi-tuneful vocals by brother and sister Sarah and Daniel Spencer (Everett True calls the vocals no wave and I can’t do …

Robert Forster – Let me imagine you (Tapete Records)

1996 and ex-Go Between Robert Forster releases his fourth solo album recorded with old friend and recently crowned king of the world Edwyn Collins. (Famously beer drinkers in a Cork bar danced to his monster smash ‘A girl like you’ while the man himself played virtually unnoticed with his band in the venue at the back.)

Warm nights is my own personal favourite from his solo output, another killer combination of wry songcraft and rock n roll stance with a beautiful warm sound palette.

A first listen to the upcoming new album Songs to play suggests a return to this palette and how welcome it is.

First single ‘Let me imagine you’ has a familiar up front acoustic guitar figure with lovely supple backing from Scott Bromley and Luke McDonald of The John Steel Singers and Forster’s touring drummer Matt Piele, including a beautiful Blonde on Blonde-ish organ.

In fact, there might be more in that Blonde on Blonde hint in terms of the album as a whole. Songs which feature the singer…

Joanna Newsom – Sapokanikan (Drag City)

After a gap of five years, a return of supreme newsomness from the milk-eyed honey-voiced one. From the upcoming album Divers out in October.

That’s to say a restlessly upbeat piano tune – some folk, some jazz, all Newsom – which seems to chart a history of Greenwich Village (or the area where that village now stands). This from -

“Sapokanikan was the name of one of several Lenape villages that archaeologists have identified as existing on Manhattan Island prior to the coming of Europeans. It was located in the southwest portion of the island, on the shores of a trout stream the Indians called Minetta. Stretching things just a bit, one might say the members of this seasonal community were the first residents of Greenwich Village.”

Apart from Newsom’s soaring and thrilling vocals – sounding more Kate Bush quixotic here than at any time – there’s…

Playlist 366 - July 28 2015 - Best of 2015 (Jan to July)

A round up of my favourite music of the year to date, a show which went out a couple of weeks ago before the summer break.

Another belting set of tunes I must say and there was another whole bunch that didn't fit into the hour. So another great year for music, basically.

I'll keep the preamble short here as you'll find plenty more around these pages on the artists listed below.


July 28 2015 - Best of 2015 (Jan - July) by The Underground Of Happiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 366
Tues July 28 2015
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Kathryn Joseph - The want (playing Summerhall, Edinburgh, Aug 12, w/ Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat)
Qluster - Traum vom Fliegen