Showing posts from December, 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