Showing posts from 2011

Beach Boys' Smile Special Podcast

Just in case it gets lost in the Christmas haze, the promised podcast for the recent Smile Special is now available. The special guest for the show was my UCC 98.3FM colleague Stephen Purcell and you can read Stephen's accompanying article on the background to the Smile sessions, as well as plenty of other Beach Boys and Brian Wilson related discussion, on this link. Enjoy and compliments of the season. Smile Pod by Underground of Happiness3

Manu Chao in Arizona

You won't hear much more from me this side of January but some more news from Arizona caught my eye lately. So you know the way Manu Chao is such a cool f**ker , in the sense of knowing where real people are at? Well at the end of his US tour in September, he held a free gig in a car park in Phoenix, Arizona as a protest against that state's (particularly odious, I think it's fair to say) immigration policies. The gig was held in conjunction with the National Day Labourer Organising Network (NDLON), which has a particular interest in assisting migrants, through its Alto Arizona campaign. Arizona is home to an interesting spot called Tent City , set up by Sherrif Arpaio of Maricopa County . This place would rank high on a list of grotesque human creations, on account of the major Guantanamo vibe it has going on. Illegal or undocumented migrants are held here in (you guessed it) tents, and undergo degrading treatment, including the full extremes of desert temperatures.

Playlist 201 - Beach Boys' Smile Special

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 201 - A Special on The Beach Boys' Smile album, with guest Stephen Purcell Tues Dec 13 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *no podcast this week due to a technical hitch, but check out Stephen's superbly detailed accompanying blog piece here Playlist The Beach Boys - Our prayer (Smile 2011; also 20/20 1969) The Beach Boys - Gee (Smile 2011) The Beach Boys - Heroes & villains (Smile 2011; also Smiley Smile 1967, different version) The Beatles - Tomorrow never knows (Revolver 1966) The Beach Boys - God only knows (Pet Sounds 1966) The Beach Boys - Cabin essence (Smile 2011; also 20/20 1969, different version, as Cabinessence) The Beach Boys - Chi

The Beach Boys' Smile Special

This week's show (the last of the year before the Christmas break) was another special (after last week's Christmas extravaganza , which, not surprisingly also featured The Beach Boys ), dedicated to The Beach Boys and in particular the Smile album, which was finally officially released this year. I was joined on the show by guest Stephen Purcell , who is a colleague at UCC 98.3FM . After meeting for the first time recently at the station, we quickly established a love of The Beach Boys as something we had in common. However, whereas I would call myself a big fan of the band, Stephen is "hardcore". So, to mark the end of the year when the original Smile recordings were finally released, we decided to devote a show to talking about the album, the band and Brian Wilson as a creative force in popular music. And Stephen also kindly agreed to contribute a superbly detailed background to the album, giving a great insight into the personalities involved in these landmark

Christmas Podcast

The Underground Of Happiness Xmas Special Dec 6 2011 by underground of happiness2 I thought I'd put a bit more flesh on the bones of the Christmas Special , this week's show, which was also the 200th episode of The Underground of Happiness . That's the wave form above (apologies for the delay before Hank Snow , the CD player was acting up). I've stuck in a few extra tunes and links as well below, just for the craic. Merry December everybody. 1. Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby please come home) My personal favourite from what is probably the definitive Christmas album in pop music, Phil Spector's 1963 classic of the genre. Put aside the irony of a Jewish man celebrating the main Christian holiday (Spector was reportedly tickled at the idea of the royalties that Irving Berlin , also Jewish, raked in for White Christmas ). Forget the schmaltz of Spector's monologue on Silent Night . Focus on the brilliantly simple between-the-eyes lyrics of Ellie Greenwi

Rozi Plain, new single

A tune that we've played on the show several times of late is the new Rozi Plain single, See my boat , which comes out next week on Need No Water Records (on lovely red vinyl, too). The Bristol-based artist has been touring the UK lately with KT Tunstall and is very much part of what seems to be a vibrant folk-ish scene in that city, along with the likes of This is the Kit and Rachael Dadd (both of whom you've heard of here before). The single starts life as an intimate, fingerpicked affair with chiming guitars, before transforming into a delirious folk stomp with handclaps, massed vocals and a four to the floor bass drum. There's even room for a swirling ending with some French jazz violin on board. It's massive craic altogether, and what's more, it's a storming tune. The previous single, Humans , is similarly irresistible, in a folk music gone off the rails, kind of way. The video features bal

AU sign with The Leaf Label

One of our favourite labels around here, Leaf , has announced the signing of Portland, Oregon duo AU , whose 2008 album Verbs was also much-loved. ( Luke Wyland and Dana Valatka played in Cork in 2009 actually and I met Luke for an interview, a piece of audio I must re-upload here once the album comes out.) Their new album Both lights will come out in January, as well as the first single from it, Solid gold . It starts with a tender piano intro, before embarking on a galloping synth groove, and later introduces a stew of guitars, horns and percussion mixing under an Afrobeat rhythm. There's even a hint of brass band oompah at the end. It's all very, very beguiling and I can't wait to hear the album. AU - 'Solid Gold' by theleaflabel This is the great rr vs d from Verbs .

The Doomed Bird of Providence - new single on Front & Follow

We've mentioned The Doomed Bird of Providence in these pages several times this year (go here and here to refresh your memory.) Their excellent album Will ever pray on Front & Follow is one of my favourites of 2011. The Manchester label have just announced a single from the band, containing two new songs, although they tie in closely with the content of the earlier album. The Bell of the Jardines features enterprise, kidnap, ambition and finally leprosy on the high seas off Australia's north-east coast, in the life story of one Frank Jardine . It's really stirring stuff, driven along by wailing fiddles, see-sawing accordions and a thundering marching drum. It comes across like The Bad Seeds in bed with The Pogues, with a compelling singing narrator in ex-pat Aussie Mark Kluzek . Folk music like they don't make any more (well, very few anyway). The death flurry employs electric guitar and bass further forward in the mix to brilliantly convey the visceral terr

Christmas Special - Playlist 200 - Dec 6 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 200 Tues Dec 6 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby please come home) The Beach Boys - Little Saint Nick Gruff Rhys - Post apocalypse Christmas Joni Mitchell - River Gene Wilder - Pure imagination (from the soundtrack of the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory ) Dylan Thomas - A child's Christmas in Wales (Extract 1) Esquivel - Parade of the wooden soldiers Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - Jesus the reindeer Tom Waits - Silent night (live) Cocteau Twins - Frosty the snowman Lost Idol - Molten snow Louis Armstrong with The Commanders - Zat you Santa Claus She & Him - The Christ

Bill Ryder-Jones – If… (Double 6)

It's been a good month for Double 6 . The ex-Coral guitarist’s debut album is an imagined soundtrack for the Italo Calvino novel If on a winter’s night a traveller . I’m a pushover when it comes to soundtracks (isn’t all music a soundtrack for something?), but even so this is still a beautiful album with lots of shading and texture, aswell as an emotional punch. The considerable talents of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra are employed throughout for many memorable and sweeping, cinematic moments (the majestic Enlace , in particular, has a series of wonderful brass smears), but for my money the vocal pieces have the most impact. The plaintiff Leaning (Star of Sweden) has an air of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci to it; By the Church of Apollonia sets a wordless, female keen brilliantly against a military tom beat, which manages to suggest Ennio Morricone without sounding anything like him as such; the miniature guitar picking and intimate/lost vocal of Le Grand Désordre are striking e

Playlist 199 - Nov 29 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 199 Tues Nov 29 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist St Vincent - Year of the tiger ( playing Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, Feb 27 2012 ) Pepe Deluxé - The storm Field Music - (I keep thinking about) A new thing ( playing Deaf Institute, Manchester, Feb 19 2012 ) Atlas Sound - Lightworks Chairlift - Sidewalk safari (edit) Black Cherry - Modern lover Antonymes meets Slow Dancing Society - That moment Eden Ahbez - Mongoose ( Trunk Records ) Kramies - Inventors Rozi Plain - See my boat Tom Waits - Chicago KXP - Easy Portishead - Chase the tear Real Estate - It's real Lambchop - If not I'll just die (

New Bill Wells album on Double 6

One of the best albums of this year was the collaboration between the veteran Scottish pianist Bill Wells and ex-Arab Strap man Aidan Moffat , Everything's getting older on Chemikal Underground (go here to refresh your memory). Wells has a new album coming out on Double 6 next week, Lemondale , for which he recruited a host of Japanese musicians for one day's recording in Tokyo , as well as Jim O'Rourke , who lives there now I believe. The press release has this nice detail - Musicians that had never met and had come from different sides of the tracks suddenly found themselves together in the same recording booth. Tori Kudo, self proclaimed Japanese 'King Of Error' was coupled with virtuoso pianist Satoko Fuji, a classically trained graduate of Berkley Music College in Boston. The recording also brought together instruments as seemingly incongruent and unrelated as a modified electric fan played by Tetsuya Umeda and the entirely unique and heavenly voices of Sa

Peaking Lights follow-up

You'll remember we mentioned Peaking Lights recently , signing to Weird World and all that. Well here's another beguiling little off-the-beaten-track number from the reissued album, 936 . The video by Cam Archer reflects that mood - just a girl putting junk together in a field, with gorgeous close-ups - although I'd feel bad about treating a pair of Converse the way she does. The band are also streaming various 936 remixes this week, including this one. Peaking Lights - Marshmellow Yellow / Amazing And Wonderful (Main Attrakionz MAN WORLD remix) by Weird World Record Co You can check the others on a dedicated website, , including Adrian Sherwood, patten, DaM-FunK, Damu, Cadenza, Sunless ’97, d’Eon, Doldrums and Maria Minerva. They're wonderful, basically.

My Brightest Diamond + Pepe Deluxé

A few things of note on the Asthmatic Kitty front. First a new video from the great Shara Worden , that is My Brightest Diamond , taken from the current album All things will unwind (you'll find other Diamond-related info here and here ). At the risk of sounding churlish, I must admit this video gives me a bit of a rash - it's just sooo right-on. However, it's chamber pop, people, and we have religious obligations around here about catchy, effervescent pop tunes played on orchestral instruments. My Brightest Diamond - ALL THINGS WILL UNWIND: High Low Middle from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo . And next to something so bonkers, it makes Gruff Rhys look staid and conformist (which he's not, at all). The name of the group is Pepe Deluxé , new to me. Have a read of this first. This is the first ever composition for The Great Stalacpipe Organ, the largest musical instrument in the world, located deep in the caverns of Luray, Virginia. The Organ consists of hand-tuned anc

Playlist 198 - Nov 22 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 198 Tues Nov 22 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist Left with Pictures - River Avon ( playing Arctic Circle @ Union Chapel, Islington, Dec 10, *midday ) Olafur Arnalds - Near light Bachelorette - Blanket ( playing Whelan's Upstairs, Dublin, Dec 1 ) Butcvher the Bar - Alpha Street West The Grunts - Into submission ( playing The Roundy, Cork, Dec 8 ) Crystal Stilts - Dark eyes *d'load i'view with Crystal Stilts here Bill Ryder-Jones - Give me a name Future Islands - Balance ( playing Whelan's, Dublin, Mar 10 2012 ) Mint Julep

Field Music - 2010 Interview + New music

We love a bit of Field Music around here. So imagine how happy we were to hear the news about the new Field Music album, due out in February 2012. It'll be called Plumb , and will be released on Memphis Industries . Here's the stream and download. Field Music - (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing by memphisindustries It sounds very much like a continuation of where (Measure) left off, which is to say, great. And it seems timely to upload the interview with the Brewis brothers, Peter and David, from September 2010, when they played in Cork shortly after that year's Electric Picnic Festival . It features... ...Stratocasters vs Gibson SG's, a village in County Durham called Noplace, Sunderland's shipbuilding past, The Beatles' Happiness is a warm gun , the predictability of pop song structures, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds , teenage pub gigs, singing like Joe Cocker, and more... Field Music Interview by underground of happiness My other n

Olafur Arnalds follow-up

As a follow-up to the post the other day on Olafur Arnalds' new release, Living room songs , you can also stream my favourite track from it on Erased Tapes' soundcloud now. The aquatic electronics and sumptuous strings make it worth every second of the 3.28. Ólafur Arnalds - Near Light by erasedtapes

Olafur Arnalds – Living room songs (Erased Tapes)

It’s a triple whammy for Erased Tapes this month (following Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick albums). We were big fans around here of Arnalds’ last album, …and they have escaped the weight of darkness . This latest project saw him create and record a song from scratch every day for a week in October, making the results available immediately in video format to fans, from his apartment in Reykjavik . It’s a stunningly beautiful collection, laden with strings but lightened by skipping electronics, and grounded with trademark lachrymose piano. I notice Arnalds is currently on tour with Ryuchi Sakamoto and there is a valid comparison to be drawn in the air of dignified melancholy you’ll find here. Superb.

Peter Broderick – Old time / Solace in Gala (Erased Tapes, single)

Another notable release from the prolific Mr Broderick. It’s a double A-sided single featuring the only sung track from Music for Confluence (album reviewed here ), backed with an instrumental from another soundtrack he’s found time to work on, Grace and Mercy , a documentary about Haiti after last year’s earthquake. Purchasers of the single get the added benefit of a digital download of the full 14-track soundtrack to the latter. Having heard it - it’s another hauntingly beautiful series of piano and guitar-centred instrumentals wrapped in an ambient gauze - I recommend you do the same. The man’s ability to evoke a range of emotions from a few (deceptively) simple materials is quite amazing. The wonderfully woozy Fibromyalgia , with a chorus of sliding, drunken violins, is my own favourite. Peter Broderick – Old Time (Official Music Video) from Erased Tapes on Vimeo . Grace + Mercy. A Film of Haitians helping Haitians. from luis pena on Vimeo . Confluence (Official Trailer)

Playlist 197 - Nov 15 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 197 Tues Nov 15 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist Richmond Fontaine feat. Deborah Kelly - Inventory Bill Ryder-Jones - Leaning (Star of Sweden) Crystal Stilts - Dark eyes *d'load i'view with Crystal Stilts here Diagrams - Tall buildings (radio edit) Peter Broderick - Old time (from the soundtrack of the film Confluence ) Nils Frahm - Keep Roll the Dice - Calling all workers ( playing ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas, Minehead, Dec 9-11 ) Yann Tiersen - I'm gonna live anyhow ( playing Jeff Mangum's ATP, Minehead, Mar 9-1

Weird World announce Peaking Lights signing

You might have come across the Domino imprint Weird World . Set up this year, they've already released a couple of impressive records by Smith Westerns and Washed Out . Now they've announced the signing of US west coast husband and wife duo Peaking Lights . Their 936 album gets its first full European release later this week (it came out previously on Not Not Fun in the US). And their new album is due out in the spring. From 936 , here's the great All the sun that shines , which, with its cavernous reverb and deep sea bass, is the perfect soundtrack music for any number of nocturnal activities. All The Sun That Shines by Peaking Lights Aaran Coyes and Indra Dunis are their names - that's them in the very-un-rock-n-roll-but-so-very-rock-n-roll photo above, with their new baby Mikko. Aaron had this to say about the new album - I feel the need to reprint all of it. “The songs that we've been working on have been very groovy and psyched out, foraging deep

Crystal Stilts Interview + gig at the Grand Social, Dublin, Nov 4 2011

In a break with tradition, I've decided to put up an interview without broadcasting an excerpt on the show first. So here's Crystal Stilts speaking to me before they played in Dublin , just over a week ago. The soundcheck was running late when I arrived at the venue (just as well as I was running late myself) – I learned that the band had missed their flight from London earlier in the day. I occupied myself downstairs with a beer and the crossword, while taking note of what passes for hipster in Dublin - it seems to be all about the manicured beards. Presently, the excellently moustached (but far from manicured) keyboard player Kyle found me at the bar and we repaired to the band’s dressing room, which was festooned with fake trophy antlers and period furniture. Kyle fell asleep, citing jet lag, but the rest of the band contributed fully to a discussion of… …the cultural landscape of South Florida (where Brad & JB grew up - it's dominated by beaches and techno, app