Showing posts from July, 2013

Beaches – Distance (from She Beats, Chapter Music)

Beaches are five women from Melbourne who mine a tasty brand of psych rock with a permeating drone. The pick of their second album is this long distance kraut trip which features Michael Rother of NEU! on drums for added authenticity. I love the way the welter of guitars to begin dissolves into a stew of blurry harmonies. Resilient, there's a word.

Playlist 275 - July 16 2013

The last freestyle show before the summer recess (the next two weeks will be special or compilation formats - a Round-up of the year so far next week and a Love Songs set the week after). Folk was hot this week - Plankton Wat (sun-baked variety), Peter Delaney (middle of the night, ukulele style), Oliver Cole doing some great woo hoos, even Grumbling Fur (pictured), adding a psych/electronic twist to something very English sounding. Screaming Maldini I can't get enough of lately, there's a touch of a High Llamas influence in there, good to see the baton passing to another generation. The new Liam Singer album is also brilliant, an intriguing chamber pop, we had a track from that. Nils Frahm changing tack a little, doing something like techno without the beats. And for Belle & Sebastian fans, Hero & Leander - a brilliantly conceived love song told through blue eyed soul. More on these pages as usual. July 16 2013 w/ Oliver Cole,Peter Delan

The National at the Marquee in Cork

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing The National again, in my hometown this time. They played in Cork before (see below) but I couldn’t make it to that gig. I did see them at The Olympia in Dublin in 2008 on the back of the Boxer album – that was great – but this time had four or five times that number of people, something not far off 5,000. Thinking back on it now, it was unusual, as gigs go, because it was almost as much a literary experience as a rock n roll one. It certainly was visceral but the show engaged the intellect at least as much as the melody receptors. Two sides of the brain in play then. That's the way with The National though. At a glance they seem to be a certain kind of band but let them seep in and they're revealed to be several types of band in one. I reviewed the gig for WeAreNoise , here’s the link with the full text. All photos below

Halves Interview and new album Boa Howl

Another really fine Irish album just out is by Dublin band Halves . Boa Howl is their second studio album and you could say it's an orchestral pop collection, although the hooks are deliciously subtle and underplayed. And the production is a beautiful re-creation on tape of a vintage recording - that's one way of reading it anyway - although with distinctly modern updates. There's something admirable too about the fact that the band specifically sought out the Svenska Grammofon Studio in Gothenberg on the basis of its possession of a Neve desk. I reviewed the album for WeAreNoise , original link here. This is the second studio album from Halves (in between they also produced a live album recorded at The Unitarian Church in Dublin) and for it they decamped to Svenska Grammofon Studios in Gothenberg in order to avail of the facilties there, most notably the famed Neve desk. The resulting

John Parish – Screenplay (Thrill Jockey)

Fascinating collection of soundtrack work from a man probably best known as a producer to PJ Harvey, Eels and Sparklehorse, to name a few. The album compiles work from six different films over the last five years or so. Parish’s affinity with soundtracks apparently goes back some way. “Growing up, film soundtracks had provided some of my favourite pieces of music – Morricone, John Barry of course, but also Wim Mertens,early John Carpenter, Nino Rota, many others. I could tell that all these influences were buried in my own music, which I thought of as filmic long before I’d ever scored a movie.” It’s good to hear contemporary artists acknowledge the mutual influence of the two dominant pop culture forms of the 20th century. My own favourite moments on the album are ‘The Girls Rehearse’, which has a lovely laconic mellotron drift to it, and ‘The Island’, with a spikier guitar-driven melody. Both have a pleasing Morricone feel and conjure plenty of intrigue without any pictures.

Playlist 274 - July 9 2013

Eat Lights Become Lights (pictured) were back on the show with the title track of an album I'm growing to love more every week. Again, I paired them with The Last Sound , from another brilliant piece of work, and both albums drawing on different strands of Krautrock, among other things. O Emperor and Grave Lanterns share a stage together in Cork this weekend, two Cork-based bands flying the flag for a kind of renegade strain of pop music. New singles from Dutch Uncles (playing Longitude Festival in Dublin), The New Mendicants (touring the UK), Polica and Kathryn Williams . More haunting music from Nancy Elizabeth's new album (review on the blog now), Angkorwat from The Outer Church compilation on Front & Follow, and something ineffably beautiful from a couple of years back from A Winged Victory for the Sullen who announced some UK shows this week. July 9 2013 w/ O Emperor,Grave Lanterns,Nancy Elizabeth,Kandodo,Angkorwat,Eat Lights Become Lights++ by Th

Nancy Elizabeth – Dancing (Leaf)

A beautiful album of finely wrought songs from the Manchester folk singer, her third. I say folk singer and she is on one level, but really this album brings together so many alluring influences that I wouldn't like to contain her in that pigeonhole. It’s called Dancing and many of the songs are like slowed down or re-imagined dance tunes – dance tunes with the obvious dancey bits removed. You could still dance to them of course but the average clubber might be a bit nonplussed. ‘Mexico’ for example uses layered vocals, a sprightly piano and some handclaps to paint an ethereal, hazy mood; given the right remix/booming backbeat, the average clubber might not be so nonplussed. ‘Simon says dance’ – dancing as a metaphor for love or life - has a similar piano core with a background synth hum. The only rhythmic feature on this album version is a bank of brilliant, bird-like, syncopated backing vocals, although the single version takes on the dancing conceit by adding a feather

Telekinesis – Wires (from Dormarion, Merge)

I must admit I found it hard to connect with this album, unlike their wide-eyed and wonderful self-titled debut. However this marvellous Cure homage hit the spot immediately. A winsome vocal melody, a winding guitar line, pounding drums...and then it’s over.

Screaming Maldini – The Albatross (HipHipHip Records)

Completely irresistible orchestral pop from this Sheffield band who are new to me but there's always room for something this good. The tune has a swooping, key changing quality reminiscient of High Llamas at their peak, strapped on to...well, something baroque from another time, harp glissandos and everything. That might make it sound a little sedate. It isn't. It reaches a belting crescendo liable to blow you as high as the balloon in the video and there's a searing synthesised guitar solo which is 70s AM rock all over. Finally, the singer - whose name is Gina I believe - has a wonderfully light delivery, even among the thrilling massed choir backing. You really need this in your life.

Playlist 273 - July 2 2013

We started the show with the story of two gigs - O Emperor , who play next week in Cork, on the back of their brilliant, classy second album Vitreous ; and The National , who played in Cork last weekend, promoting their brilliant, slowburning 6th Trouble will find me . The main event of the show was a piece of an interview with Brian from Dublin band Halves , whose 2nd album comes out this month - it's great too (full podcast of that interview on the way). What else? Some jaunty jazz from Krzysztof Komeda (pictured below) taken from the soundtrack to Roman Polanski's film Knife in the water (see Trunk Records for details on that); beautiful airy ambient electronica from Jumpel ; a knock-out falsetto with glitch beats combination from Baths ; soaring orch-pop from Screaming Maldini ; and shape-shifting math-pop from V.O. . And we finished with some boogie from Brother JT because there's always room for some boogie. July 2 2013 w/ O Emperor,The National,Halves