Showing posts from 2017

Playlist 453 - June 27 2017

As if any excuse was needed, we had some great Esquivel to open the show this week on top of the signature tune of the show of course. It really is music guaranteed to put a spring in your step.

After that we had some beautiful new music from The Clientele, back with a new album and sounding brilliantly atmospheric. A twilight kind of sound.

Michael Nau and Harry Nilsson tend to remind one of each other so good to hear them together. Late night melancholy crooning par excellence.

Superior ambient drones from Portland's Golden Retriever. Wonderful Indian inflected folk music from Yorkston Thorne Khan.

And Brona McVittie from County Down with some beautiful harp work in a rarefied folk setting.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 453
Tues June 27 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30…

This is the Kit – Moonshine freeze (Rough Trade)

A perfectly wonderful twinkling folk boogie from Ms Stables and friends.

Things that are good.

The circling guitar pattern is adorned with a Buffalo Springfield-esque guitar shimmer.

The lovely shuffle groove is capped off by the most amenable horn section heard in some time.

It seems so simple until you realise that it isn’t.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s simple or not.

The beguiling melody hits the spot.

It is a beautiful thing.

Playlist 452 - June 20 2017

A couple of Liverpool Psych Fest bands on the show this week, always a great bill there at the end of September.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, making a sublime kosmische noise with handclaps even.

The Comet Is Coming, making a startling gripping psychedelic stew.

Also Julian Cope in great voice on his new album; Edwyn Collins & Carwyn Ellis singing about a bird, after Bert Jansch; Valerie June beguiling on an astral plane and playing Cork soon.

And the magic of Joe Hisaishi and one of his legendary Studio Ghibli soundtracks, this one from the masterpiece that is Spirited Away.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 452
Tues June 20 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here


Michael Nau – I root (from the album Some twist, Full Time Hobby)

Sublime hazy memories of love from Maryland in the US...

... as if Harry Nilsson turned his mind to happier fuzzier times.

There’s very little detail to list here – a one and a half note guitar figure, a snare roll, a ride cymbal, a dream of a voice – but really the story is more to do with the atmosphere.

Languid is a word.

Sleepy maybe.

Intimate for sure.

Whichever one you like it is at arms length from the cold hard world.

A beautiful sheltered miniature.

Playlist 451 - June 13 2017

Some genius Go Betweens on the show this week, just cos, which opens with the immortal line - "remembered your name evidently you've forgotten mine".

There's a strand of their greatness about Melbourne band Terry. Something louche something rudimentary yet thrilling.

There's a new album soon from Michael Nau who makes the most sublime blissed out narco pop with an absolute angel of a voice. It's all too lovely in a quietly devastating Bob Lind or Harry Nilsson kind of way.

Which fits very well with Mr Lee Hazlewood and one of his many wonderful songs of love and regret this one from 1971.

And new music from Dent May carving a white soul banger as if Jens Lekman jammed with Hot Chip who had lost their synths and a wonderful uplifting thing it is with dreamy guest vocals from Frankie Cosmos.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed…

Look Blue Go Purple – Still bewitched (Flying Nun Records, reissue)

In a way this is the sound of the past.

The mid 1980s.

Flying Nun Records.

A hazy but thrilling jangle.

A band of women.


Nostalgia can be beautiful.

But another way of looking at it (or listening to it) is that this is the sound of now.

Psychedelic pop with gauzy back of the room harmonies.

Without this the likes of Warpaint wouldn’t exist.

In the 80s they operated in a parallel world to The Pixies.

One where they used flutes.

A more democratic one, maybe.

The yang to the yin of The Chills.

That fed into all kinds of what was known as indie.

A wonderful uncaring looseness.

They also call it unselfconscious.

With some hard to pinpoint connection to The Go Betweens.

A glorious thing to sustain you in hard times.

Playlist 450 - June 6 2017

A couple of great Thrill Jockey releases on the show this week, both duos.

House and Land are Sally Anne Morgan and Sarah Henson, both steeped in Appalachian folk music and here giving a haunting take on that tradition.

Golden Retriever are from Portland and consist of analog synthesist Matt Carlson and bass clarinetist Jonathan Sielaff. They make glorious slow moving ambient drones, this one appropriately titled 'Pelagic tremor'.

Matthew Bourne and the title track from his upcoming new album. Another brilliantly arresting spare piano piece with cello drones.

Also The Magnetic Fields singing a song to 1969 and namechecking Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin's '69 Année Erotique, which we also heard.

And Edward Williams with one of the great (neglected) soundtrack albums as given a life by Trunk Records - utterly otherworldly and deeply moving.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


Matthew Bourne – Isotach (The Leaf Label)

Another sublime cut of ruminative piano from the upcoming new album.

In among the spare plaintive notes are the most beautiful cello swells.

Ambient ebbs and floes.

A deep register and a harmonic upper note working together.

Like a rumbling sea with its own waves crashing.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that get you through and this is one of the best of those.

Isotach by Matthew Bourne

Playlist 449 - May 30 2017

We played an extract from the new Kamasi Washington single a few weeks ago. It's an epic freewheeling piece in roughly three movements, featuring choir, orchestra, band, the works. This week, for your pleasure, we have the full wonderful 13 minutes.

Around that we had a selection of somewhat like minded gems.

Ennio Morricone, also genius employer of vocals in (mostly) instrumentals. Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, influenced by Il Maestro for sure, but also dipping into some kind of deep Brazilian kosmimsche. The High Llamas, on tour in Ireland soon which is marvellous news. The Beach Boys, bringing a little baroque to contemplation of the universe and deeply moving.

And Yorkston Thorne Khan, with another sublime crossing of western and Indian styles, playful yet still full of feeling.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: Unde…

Jane Weaver – Modern kosmology (Fire Records)

A marvellous album of kosmische pop from the Mancunian... which the meaning of this word kosmische is front and centre. That’s to say, the album deals with existential concerns - the meaning of the moves we make, the dances we do, who we are and why we are here on this funny old planet.

Nowhere is this clearer or more poignant than on the intoxicating lead single ‘Slow motion’ which opens with these immortal lines (as close as I can make out).

In this landscape we are fading
shiny particles and shadings
what’s continuous and clearer through the skies

like a science fiction inner monologue drifting out to space.

And then

I want to feel the life we left in the sun

while the synths swoop and dive.

It’s an exquisite moment of yearning and nostalgia and of feeling for the universe and it’s amplified even more in the context of the other songs.

The thrilling motorik beat of opening song ‘HAK’.

The beautiful Sadier-esque vocal rounds of ‘Did you see butterflie…

Playlist 448 - May 23 2017

We didn't have Ariana Grande on the show this week but we did have a great contemporary Manchester artist. Jane Weaver's new album is a brilliant mix of psych pop and synth driven kosmische and fittingly there's a heartfelt and poignant tone to it.

Moondog is always good music to lift the spirit, sitting somewhere between classical and folk but not neatly in either camp.

Some folk cuts. Joan Shelley with the most delicate and sublime of folk voices, James Elkington with a lovely baroque folk twist of fingerpicked guitar with cello, Harry Taussig & Max Ochs with a light playful touch of American Priitive.

Lee Hazlewood from his Swedish sojourn, always great to hear.

And from the English Weather compilation, a brilliant folk-exotica track from The Roger Webb Sound.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHa…

Seti The First – The wolves of summerland (Paper Palace Records)

A second album of thrilling instrumentals from the Dublin-based duo of Kevin Murphy and Thomas Haugh, whose first album Melting cavalry still stands as one of the best instrumental albums of this century (at least).

The main instruments are ostensibly cello and percussion but even at that not used in ways you might expect. The cello in particular is brought into unusual territory with bends, slaps and scrapes combining brilliantly with longer bowed notes to make a fascinating sonic landscape.

‘Pig iron prophet’ starts with a furious double time backbeat over staccato effects while trumpet and bass drones build the intrigue.

There’s the wonderful widescreen cinematic atmosphere of ‘Kingdom of crooked mirrors’, an orchestra of zithers and strings played out over a marching drumbeat.

The swooning chamber pop of ‘Century flowers’ and ‘Glass soldiers parade’.

The noirish hum of ‘A mechanical Turk’, the genius deployment of high hats and cello harmonics during ‘In the Valle…

Manu Louis – Kermesse Machine (Igloo Records)

A beguiling mixture of electro, brass band music, 8-bit and any number of other styles from the Belgian artist.

The glorious brass influence asserts itself in the building opener ‘Music from the hot dog stand’, toy drums and organ stabs giving way to a furious atmosphere of snare rolls with frantic brass action anchored by a great parping tuba.

The filthy synth bassline of ‘Tchouang-Tseu (was at the Kermesse of M. Ha)’ screams electro but the melody and other top notes have more of an 8-bit feel. All good.

‘Karaoke’ has a wonderful off kilter backbeat, jerky, restless and capable of ripping up any dancefloor (sounding vaguely like a Balkan band transplanted to the Caribbean), the brass again adding a great insinuating undertone.

The rest of the album contains other pleasures – the ominous syncopations and noise distortions of ‘Playback’, the Franco-jazz meets bar room singalong of ‘Sylvie, reviens’ and more – but this opening salvo really is killer.

It’s a rowdy, joyo…

Playlist 447 - May 16 2017

Slowdive have a first new album in over 20 years. It's great and picks up seamlessly from where they left off. We heard from it and from their shoegaze confreres of the 80s/90s Cocteau Twins, the magnificent swirl of the album Heaven or Las Vegas.

The charmingly named Snapped Ankles (pic) have released track 2 and it's another stonking piece of strident electro, not without melody and other intrigue however.

Another gorgeous Flying Nun memory from their reissue of Look Blue Go Purple; new music from This Is The Kit, a beautiful kosmische jam; The Magnetic Fields with memoir, Stonewall riots, feather boas, Serge Gainsbourg, Judy Garland and irresistible tunes.

And Manu Louis with a twisted kind of fairground funk with some brass band looney tunes thrown in which is wonderful.

More on these pages.

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

Kamasi Washington – Truth (from the Harmony of Difference EP, Young Turks)

There’s a wonderful freewheeling atmosphere to this epic new music from the Los Angelean composer and bandleader...

...using the great and simple effect of massed voices, without harmonies and in unison, belting out a rousing melody and reaching a thrilling crescendo by the end.

Also these things.

The beauty of one riff and letting it breathe to the full.

The orchestral majesty of the interlocking undertones and overtones.

The stoic brass, twinkling xylophones and skittering drums.

Not even the unexpected appearance of some Santana style guitar flourishes late on can ruin the mood.

Inspirational is a word.

Playlist 446 - May 9 2017

Kamasi Washington has a new EP out, called Harmony and Difference. We heard roughly one movement from the lead track 'Truth', it's about 13 minutes long in all (listen to it all below). It's a wonderful freewheeling affair with choir, orchestra, constantly shifting sands of drums, guitars, xylophones, saxophone of course, and more.

Some beautiful BBC Radiophonic Workshop strangeness from Delia Derbyshire & Anthony Newley. Jane Weaver filling our lugs with great propulsions. Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble with the drifting kosmische/psych pop.

And some Appalachian a capella from House and Land, primal and ancient and quite strange in its way.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 446
Tues May 9 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at

Playlist 445 - May 2 2017

Some Flying Nun news this week. Dunedin band Look Blue Go Purple reissue 3 x 80s EPs through the legendary NZ label. It's juicy jangly and swoonsome psych pop.

Howe Gelb is back on tour, bringing Lonna Kelley and Naim Amor for company. Expect sumptuous lounge tones with to die for smoky vocals and from Naim a French jazz meets Tucson swing.

Also getting the reissue treatment is Bert Jansch on Earth Recordings. We took the title track from his wonderful final studio album The black swan (2006).

C Duncan is on tour around now. Transcendental vocal magic.

And Whyte Horses making genius thrilling psych pop.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 445
Tues May 2 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here…

Matthew Bourne – Candela (for Sascha Heeney) (The Leaf Label)

Aching piano instrumental from the North of England artist ahead of a new album in the summer.

Matthew Bourne has spent the last few years exploring the edges of improv with Moog workouts, audio visual collaborations and Kraftwerk interpretations (sometimes all at the same time).

While those were fascinating, there’s something very satisfying about this return to piano, to territory reminiscient of his wonderful Montauk Variations album from 2012.

Plaintive and spare piano notes gather long contemplative cello drones leading to a surprisingly suspenseful atmosphere.

It’s a thing of beauty and I can’t wait to hear more from the album.

Candela (for Sascha Heeney) by Matthew Bourne

Playlist 444 - Apr 25 2017

A selection of dreamy kosmische cuts this week.

Jane Weaver making something vulnerable and really beautiful out of interweaving synths.

Percolator with lovely gauzy shoegaze textures.

The Saxophones have a veil thin dream pop.

And Matthew Bourne is back with sublime instrumental piano music.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 444
Tues Apr 25 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Jane Weaver – Slow motion (playing The Lexington, London, May 22)
Percolator – Yellow fire (playing Coughlan's, Cork, Apr 28; Bello Bar, Dublin, Apr 29)
Autre Monde – Customs
Me and The Bees – Spinnin
The Saxophones – If you’re on the water
Nightlands – Depending on you
Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest…

Cormac O Caoimh – born (from the album Shiny silvery things)

A gorgeous wolf in sheep’s clothing.

An unsettling wrongfooting piece of songwriting.

Wearing a sublime French jazz costume.

you could have been born someone else

What a brilliantly double edged ocean of possibility.

shiny silvery things by Cormac O Caoimh

Percolator – Sestra (Penske Recordings)

Delicious mixture of the propulsion of Stereolab and the textures and crunch of My Bloody Valentine from this Dublin band’s debut album.

There are many things to love about the album – the sense of adventure, the absorption in ideas for their own sake (an improv spirit maybe), the embrace at the same time of pop melodies, the sheer breadth of sounds generated throughout the album – but I think my favourite is that great quality in any band or album, not trying too hard.

I can think of ten other bands who might have taken a rough draft of these songs and turned them into bombast, beating you over the head with the ideas and in the process murdering any beauty.

Percolator have that wonderful thing, restraint, so instead they stick with the ideas, the raw elements and see them through, not just as means to an end but as diamonds in themselves.

In this I would put them next to labelmates The Altered Hours. A band with vision and in it for the long haul. Plus with obvious musi…

Jane Weaver – Slow motion (Fire Records)

Glorious kosmische pop music with a motorik pulse from the Manchester artist.

There’s a beautiful weave to the synth lines, a carefree quality, a cavort suggesting the tumble of the universe somehow.

But it’s Weaver’s voice that crowns the sound.

Close and persuasive – let’s go outside when it doesn’t feel right / we can disappear – it uses simple elegant phrasing with an endearing down to earth tone which has a hint of world weary about it.

The effect of this simplicity againt the thick swoops of cosmic backing is to make a strange atmosphere. Like the best science fiction, it says otherworldly but still recognisable.

The arrangement is a dream of serene space, inner and outer.

A sumptuous cut.

Weyes Blood – The Workman’s Club, Dublin, April 15th 2017

On the most significant weekend in the Christian calendar, there was something appropriate about the primal and even pagan undertones of this wonderful show of live music and (I’m going to say) ideas.

Firstly we must speak about the sheer presence of Natalie Mering on stage (which is only added to by the remarkable sky blue with white clouds trouser suit, a sort of David Byrne meets Pop Art statement). You could call it a certain kind of cool. It certainly comes across as a confidence but with no sense of distance or aloofness to it. There’s a distinct warmth to her stage persona, or we might just say her personality because there’s no hint of artifice, just an easy engaging quality.

Her between song patter also has a distinct air of playfulness. She has a mischievous streak, no doubt about it. ‘Seven words’ is introduced with a wry smile as “seventeen’s grown another ten words...a lot has happened”. One of the encores (a krautrock classic) is billed as “a more Germ…

Playlist 443 - Apr 18 2017

A bunch of folk music in the first half of the show this week.

The Nightjar, brilliantly ghostly.
Richard Osborn, wonderful pastoral American primitive.
Seti The First, magnificent string based instrumentals.

And in the second half, much of the louder variety.

Snapped Ankles, murderous bassline.
Percolator, mashing MBV & Stereolab together beautifully.
Can, looping the loop wonderfully.

And from Brussels, Manu Louis (pic) with an amazing soundclash of 8 bit, electro, orchestral and whatever you're having yourself.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 443
Tues Apr 18 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

The Nightjar – The birds were made to sing for us (playing Green …

Spirituals - A Mix

A little spiritual music for Easter week...

...ranging from the meditational to the flippant, the playful to the otherworldly, gospel to kosmische.



Susanna & The Magical Orchestra – Hallelujah
Homer Quincy Smith – I want Jesus to walk with me
Edward Williams – Japanese macaques: Warm baths in a snowscape (from the soundtrack of the tv series Life on Earth)
Scott Walker – Angels of ashes
Cluster – Sowiesoso (So not so so)
Silver Apples – Seagreen serenades
Bruce Haack – Cherubic hymn
The Beach Boys – Transcendental meditation
Dirty Projectors & Bjork – On and ever onward
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – The road (from the soundtrack of the film The road)
Howe Gelb – Paradise here abouts
Gospel Artistics – Lord is it
The Velvet Underground – Jesus
Dylan Thomas – Do not go gentle into that good night
John Cale – Do not go gentle into that good night (live)
Nina Simone – I shall be released
Richard Osborn – Monastery
Alela Diane & Ryan Francesconi – Quiet cor…

Playlist 442 - Apr 11 2017

A lash of new music with various psychedelic shades this week.

The beautiful pulsing kosmische of Jane Weaver.
The lush dream pop of Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble.
The wonderful Go Team-ish 60s girl gang sound of Whyte Horses.
The swooning psych folk of Entrance.

Some instrumental cuts too, including two great soundtrack pieces.
Nicholas Britell from Moonlight
& Brian Gibson of Lightning Bolt s'tracking the video game Thumper.

Plus Matthew Bourne back at the piano to majestic effect.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 442
Tues Apr 11 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Entrance – Always the right time (playing Shacklewell Arms, London, Apr 19)
Diagrams – I tell mys…

Playlist 441 - Apr 4 2017

A number of soundtrack cuts on the show this week plus a couple of great a capella tracks.

Jean Claude Vannier is best known for arranging some of Serge Gainsbourg's greatest songs. He was also a composer in his own right and experimenter in all kinds of genres. Here we have a female choir singing, vocalising, exhaling, finger clicking, foot's fantastic stuff.

Rebekah Del Rio giving a great song one of the most magnificent cover makeovers ever, as used brilliantly in the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive.

Mica Levi from the film Jackie, a glorious piece of musical counterpoint - the light as a feather flute with the deep sea draw of the cellos.

Jerome Moross with an iconic western soundtrack from The Big Country.

And Seti The First, not a soundtrack per se but it feels like it could be music for a film - thrilling, poised, orchestral instrumentals.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


John Hynes – Caroline, I’m yours

An outstanding piece of songwriting, and singing, from this Kildare singer.

A nylon stringed guitar, a spare stalking bassline, a pleasingly slow shuffle, a torch song, a ballad, a love letter soaring and straining.

It comes on reasonably traditional on the face of it...and yet there are barbs.

It takes a poet to be wrong about you


I wanted just a sense of your beating heart when it hurts.

Enough to tease and make you doubt and force you to listen again.

There’s a hint of the glorious melodrama of Father John Misty, the dark depths of Harry Nilsson and the earnest earned chops of Dublin singer Anderson.

All held together by Hynes’ persuasive croon.

Hell there’s even a keychange and banks of backing vocal oohs.

Greatness beckons.

The Nightjar – Objects (Pear O’ Legs)

A sublime debut album of ghostly folk songs capped off with the most extraordinary vocal harmonies from this Bristol band. It’s commonplace to refer to striking vocals and in fairness nothing helps a song to stand out more than a striking voice. The Nightjar certainly have that in lead singer Mo Kirby, but they also have Sarah Ricketts on back up (and bass) and the pair combine in a way that is startling to say the least.

Look no further than the first two singles, ‘All objects will cease’ and ‘Warbrobe’. The harmonies chosen by Ricketts are at arms length from the standard seconds or thirds. They suggest a medieval or even more ancient connection, a dredging of the history of the species and the planet (there is a distinct historical feel to the album as a whole). The unexpected quality of the harmonies also underscores the slightly supernatural, post apocalyptic themes of the songs in ingenious fashion. They act like a shadow or a spirit slightly outside of the music.

Even …

Various Artists – The Food of Love Project: Songs from Shakespeare’s Plays & Times (Autolycus Records)

Invigorating collection of folk treatments of songs either featured or referenced in the plays of William Shakespeare, an album put together to mark the Shakespeare Jubilee in 2016.

The variety of shades over the course of the set is impressive; the ominous vocal drone of Dead Rat Orchestra singing ‘Bonnie Sweet Robin is to the greenwood gone’; the plaintiff vocal canons of Stornoway on ‘Eibhlín a riún’; the wonderful courtly atmosphere of ‘Caleno custure me’ as arranged by Alasdair Roberts & Gordon Ferries; Thomas Truax putting ‘Greensleeves’ through his particular surrealist vision, all chiming music boxes, whirrs and scratches; the primal drone and irrepressible vocal lilt of Kirsty Law.

Sweet sweet music for Shakespeare fans and everyone else too.

Playlist 440 - Mar 28 2017

A string of great female singers and musicians on the show this week.

Camille, making a fountain of milk sound like the lightest, breeziest, most intriguing thing in the world and not a bit sticky and messy. Love those banks of backing vocals too.

New music from Jane Weaver, gorgeous kosmische with a dreamy melody and a raft of vintage synths.

Weyes Blood, who as we all know is magnificent; Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble sounding breezy and Brazilian and uplifting as ever amidst the chaos. Both of those women playing Ireland soon.

And some classic library music from Stringtronics, taken from the 1st Connectors compilation (pic) by Barry 7 of Add N to (X).

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 440
Tues Mar 28 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at www…

Frontier Ruckus - Enter the kingdom (Loose Records)

What is more thrilling than a well crafted piece of songwriting?

Frontier Ruckus are a band from Detroit who make sublime teasing guitar pop, a kind that portrays the current twenty something generation mercilessly but still with a degree of affection. On the up on the face of it but holding on to a melancholy undercurrent that drags it back, some vague feeling of being lost.

Look no further than the wonderful ‘Our flowers are still burning’, a twisting turning puzzle of a lyric that uses sprightly acoustic guitar and banjo as a decoy, a thin disguise for the sad streak running through a life. The opening line should have you on its hook in seconds.

In the sunken silhouette of your drunken pillowette

Elsewhere the album paints a bleak but vivid American landscape of dexedrine, ibuprofen, looking for work on Craigslist, infernally hot summers in Detroit, prozac, shitty jobs, dysfunction, e-cigarettes, in the arcade throwing darts, the hollowing out of city communities and more,…

Playlist 439 - Mar 21 2017

New releases this week from Dublin band Percolator (pic) with a lovely scratchy but somehow understated brand of shoegaze. They play Coughlan's in Cork at the end of April.

Also Snapped Ankles, punktronica they're calling it, all I know is it's got thundering bass and distorted vocals and is a great thing altogether.

Mick Harvey still wowing with the Serge Gainsbourg interpretations/translations, this time in duet with the wonderful Sophia Brous, more greatness.

More thunderous drumming this time from Huddersfield's The Scaramanga Six, two drummers apparently and a wonderful anthemic vocal refrain.

Plus Barry McCormack, playing The Workman's Club in Dublin soon, bringing great sturdy songwriting into folk tunes with a motorik pulse.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 439
Tues …

Mica Levi – Vanity (from the soundtrack of the film Jackie, Milan)

From an intense and chilling piece of filmmaking, this soundtrack by Mica Levi is a beautiful low key accompaniment.

In particular this track which features an ingenious contrast between the gravity and density of the strings - long and sombre - and the weightlessness of the flute part, the levity even.

The subsequent wrongfooting effect places your emotions in line with your reaction to the film’s main character, caught between admiration at her fortitude, sympathy at her terrible plight (in the spotlight covered in her husband’s blood) and some kind of distaste at her apparent vanity.

A masterful piece of work.

Playlist 438 - Mar 14 2017

A bunch of great British music on the show this week, in two main camps.

In the folk department
The Nightjar, stirring haunted atmospherics
The Bevis Frond, enduring drones with sitar
Alasdair Roberts & Gordon Ferries, from the wonderful Shakespeare songs Food of Love project, getting courtly.

And more of a post punk buzz
Shaking Chains, compelling spoken word delivery
Animals That Swim, fierce guitar tune with brilliant narrative drive
Warm Digits feat. Field Music on vocals, banging electro.

And Francois & the Atlas Mountains, slippery woozy psych pop from France.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 438
Tues Mar 14 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Warm Digits fea…

Playlist 437 - Mar 7 2017

A raft of instrumental music this week for some reason, just plenty of it about I suppose, and plenty of great stuff.

The Comet Is Coming have UK dates in March and May (and beyond)
Gavin Prior, new album has some great ambient sounds in it
Noveller, new album, more epic guitar soundscapes
Mind Over Mimrrors, intriguing kosmische-meets-roots sound
Mica Levi, wonderful wrongfooting soundtrack from the film Jackie.

We also had Cormac O Caoimh whose new album plies more of that gorgeous Prefab Sprout territory.
Diagrams, beautiful folk music with propulsive beats.

And Basil Kirchin exploring the limits of library music, brilliantly.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 437
Tues Mar 7 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this…

Playlist 436 - Feb 28 2017

Aldous Harding has been a fave of the show for a couple of years. Now she's with 4AD/Flying Nun so expect to hear a lot more from her soon, new music from her starting this week's show.

Valerie June is an American singer who manages to combine something of the exotic air of Joanna Newsom with the grit of Lucinda Williams, an alluring mix.

More from The Nightjar,a Bristol band with a great mix of haunting folk, arresting harmonies and field recordings.

John Hynes is an Irish singer with a voice you'll immediately love, shades of Father John Misty or Harry Nilsson.

Stornoway from a fascinating compilation of songs from Shakespeare's plays and times.

And some more Basil Kirchin, some wonderful early 70s English horror film music.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 436
Tues Feb 28 201…

Mind Over Mirrors – Glossolaliac (from the album Undying color, Paradise of Bachelors)

Churning dark edged kosmische from Jaime Fennelly and friends.

There’s a pleasing synergy between electronic and organic as the female voices of Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux) and Janet Beveridge Bean (Eleventh Dream Day) swap places with the pulsing synths and rhythmic fiddle.

Meditational, trancelike, adventurous, with a minimalist sway that’s satisfyingly cathartic.

Undying Color by Mind Over Mirrors

Sodastream – Three sins (from the album Little by little, Sodastream Music)

Alternative pop belter from the veteran Australian duo.

A sawing cello and simple acoustic guitar strum tend to mask the murky depths of the song, as Karl Smith’s sweet voice, reminiscient of Jonathan Richman or Stuart Murdoch, intones about bonfires on Christmas Eve.

However, an early clue is delivered in the shape of this ear catching line, soon I’ll burn all these fuckers around me.

As the song gathers a kind of VU style pace and power with a vocal background drone like a choir of the dispossessed, Smith ups the ante.

I touched those boys, those boys in the wrong way


Between my legs takes the loving from me


So I’ll kiss this medal when they come to get me.

And a chill sets in as string feedback swings back and forth until the final rowdy refrain which comes on quite like ‘Venus in furs’ on smoother drugs, all bumps and grinds and chaotic rumbles.

A miniature masterpiece of incendiary songwriting.

Little By Little - LP by Sodastream

Brokeback – Night falls on Chillicothe (from the album Illinois River Valley Blues, Thrill Jockey)

Sumptuous mood piece from Doug McCombs and friends from only the fourth Brokeback album I was surprised to learn, although of course McCombs has been plenty busy with other projects.

If the title suggests cinema, so does the quietly intense atmosphere – a weary travelogue maybe, or a melancholic memoir.

The gorgeous slowly unwinding guitar lines smoulder, reminsicient of McCombs’ work with Tortoise, and underneath a bed of steel guitar shimmers.

Instrumental music doesn’t get much more beautiful or meaningful than this.

Illinois River Valley Blues by Brokeback

Entrance – Always the right time (from the album Book of changes, Thrill Jockey)

A beautiful follow on from the Promises EP of last year from Guy Blakeslee and friends.

It’s a sweet song about love in roughly folk guitar picking clothes but with a great supporting psych pop ensemble of warped strings, vibes and massed singers, suggesting the vaguely unhinged quality that can often accompany amour.

It builds to an uncomplicated lovely rush and breaks back down to just Blakeslee’s very endearing vibrato voice.

Just wonderful.

The Saxophones – If you’re on the water

A dreamy half there thing of beauty from the American west coast.

There’s a fragile atmosphere, an air of late night fretfulness and the bare bones arrangement contributes fully to that feeling.

Tentative plucked guitar, whispered woodwind and Alexei Erenkov’s reedy self deprecating vocal.

That the lyric refers to dangers or unseen risks – “if you’re on the water better beware – only adds to the sense of something precious and intimate.

An intriguing understated treasure.

If You're on the Water EP by The Saxophones

Playlist 435 - Feb 21 2017

Mick Harvey has just released his 4th album of Serge Gainsbourg interpretations, the wonderful Intoxicated Women. The first track on it is a great cover of 'Je t'aime', in German ('Ich liebe dich') with the memorable vocals of Andrea Schroeder taking the part of Jane Birkin. Depending on your susceptibility to female sighs and intimations, very possibly not safe for work.

Any excuse for a classic cut from the man himself Serge, a bit of Melody Nelson with tremendous orchestrations by Jean Claude Vannier.

Benoit Pioulard, August Wells, Happyness, OOIOO all playing around or about these parts soon.

Basil Kirchin is a revered cult figure in outsider music (subject of a recent festival in Hull), check his gorgeous mixture of jazz and birdsong/field recordings.

And The Saxophones, a sublime late night disquieting dream of a song.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed…