Showing posts from October, 2016

The Notwist – Superheroes, Ghostvillains + Stuff (Alien Transistor)

And finally (and by coincidence somewhat appropriately for Halloween), another effortlessly cool, fluid and (crucially) groovy chapter in the story of The Notwist . Apart from notwisting, the Acher brothers have had their hands in all kinds of fascinating pies over the years. For the first time, this is a live set, recorded in Leipzig in front of a most appreciative audience and it sounds fantastic. From the opening strains of ’They follow me’ – with its intriguing creeping meditative air – there’s a lovely organic mixture of analogue and digital sounds. It’s like a Notwist mission statement, neatly summed up by the band like this - It’s all about sonic interconnection, about music as entanglement, music as reconciliation. The rather majestic, cinematic (indie) pop and experimental, kraut- infused jazz, the spirit of the enlightenment and baroque playfulness, the traces of modernism and minimal music, dub leanings, hip-hop lessons, and even hints of house music: here

The Monochrome Set – Cosmonaut (from the album Cosmonaut, Tapete Records)

There’s a great swagger about this title track from the 13th album by The Monochrome Set , who are something of a cultural institution at this stage. Bid is in excellent and provocative voice and the guitars (12 string Rickenbacker by the [wonderful] sounds of it) roll around with a fantastic barrelling energy. Don’t take my word for it, this is the Tapete one sheet - The title track opens with a Theremin cyber fly buzzing towards your skull before the song hits, launching you into a mirror dimension that is both familiar and alien. The whole album is a trip that starts with a hallucinating cash-till lady, then travels through dream-sets involving cannibalism, disaffected squirrels, strange gods, dying sweethearts, sexual depravity, Alzheimer's, backward evolution, and ends in an operating theatre, amid a sea of medical tentacles. In short, a camping holiday. Very good. You would need an antidote of this order to get hrough the whole Butlins experience. Invigor

Alien Ensemble – Alien Ensemble 2 (Alien Transistor)

Beautiful combination of smooth jazz, krautrock and brass band shapes from Micha Acher (The Notwist) and friends. Within the first two tracks we already have a cool jazz jam, a bowed double bass meditation, a gorgeous vibraphone exercise (all on album opener ‘Arc Trilogy’) and a sprightly/bittersweet brass band workout (‘Morgenstimmung’). The heart and soul of the album for me is the run beginning from the fourth track ‘Sun’, an exquisite accordion, flute and vibes concoction that drifts and lopes all woozy and heat drunk. Next the sublimely morose brass of ‘Lenity’ is a perfect palate cleanser, like a Tom Waits tune in a sharper suit but just as pleasingly dishevelled underneath. The run is crowned by the glorious motorik beackbeat of 'Skeleton dance' with the white line held by a single banjo chord while an irresistible flute and trumpet melody flirts with the verges. The album still has great things in store – the insistent brass, flute and vibes interpla

Playlist 420 - Oct 25 2016

The marvellous Trashcan Sinatras are back in Ireland soon for a live date. What better time to roll out something from their 1996 masterpiece, the genius cut 'Genius I was'. Makes me melt every time. Kristin Hersh is in Triskel Christchurch in Cork for a solo show next week, should be wonderful. Jherek Bischoff is in Utrecht for the Le Guess Who Festival. Rozi Plain is back in Cork at The Kino in December. Bring that great folk kosmische, Rozi. Howe Gelb has a new piano trio album out soon, Future Standards , going back to his childhood listening lounge roots,sounds great so far. And The Notwist with a live album, sounding as stoic and essential as ever. More on these pages. The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy Playlist 420 Tues Oct 25 2016 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM l

Itasca – Open to chance (Paradise of Bachelors)

This is a record I’ve been digging a lot for the past couple of months, on a label that is consistently reliable for offering authentic and intriguing cuts. Layla Cohen is the woman who goes under the name Itasca (a composite of the Latin words for “truth” – veritas - and “head” – caput - apparently). She lives in Los Angeles and there is a shimmering, heat-induced quality to her plaintiff, straightforwardly beautiful folk songs. Above the delicate guitar figures and woozy mix of steel guitar and keys, Cohen’s voice drifts with an elegance that is particularly moving. There’s a purity to it, a muted tone, something like a soft bell or chime, somehow reminding me of Joni Mitchell more than anyone else, although free of any of Mitchell’s vibrato or baroque stylings. Soft alright but insistent and beguiling. It’s an album that sounds a little out of time but all the better for that. A majestic and authoritative document. This from the label one sheet (which in the cas

Sans Chateaux – Aspendale

Sublime chamber folk offering from Austin Patrick who is of this universe – sometimes Cork, sometimes Melbourne, sometimes Canada – but projects a distinctly otherworldly aura. There’s a delicate featherlight quality to these songs that would remind you of Fredo Viola, although the addition of cello on most songs gives an interesting extra emotional tug and weight to the arrangements. Patrick’s voice is the key, a thing of high register beauty with a honey tone on the edge of falsetto, which although it may not be to everyone’s taste absolutely rocks my world. Gentle fingerpicked guitar and here and there simple piano chords round out the picture. Highlights include the title track opener with added lush ambience, the rhythmic lilt with stacked harmonies of ‘Fiction can be heavy’ and the Beach Boys vocal gorgeousness of ‘On distance’. The mood is primarily downtempo although fascinatingly breezy west coast US things happen on ‘Stuff unknown’ when a tambourine joins

Playlist 419 - Oct 18 2016

Ahead of the release of Fixity 2 on vinyl, and a Cork Opera House (Green Room) show, something from the first Fixity album, dark and murky and engrossing. Matthew Bourne hitting a similar tone using a Moog - shimmering analogue sounds. Glorious vocal stylings from Sans Chateaux which should be to the liking of Beach Boys fans. Some "lost" Russian film music from the wonderful Mikael Tariverdiev . Yama Warashi is a Japanese woman in Bristol (and friends) making adventurous cosmic folk music. Arborist is Belfast man Mark McCambridge flitting between beautiful chamber and country sounds. And The Altered Hours who play a Cork show in December at The Kino , drifting, teasing, psych pop. More on these pages. The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy Playlist 419 Tues Oct 18 2016 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on T

Entrance – Promises (from the EP Promises, Thrill Jockey)

Appropriately entrancing chamber cut from Guy Blakeslee aka Entrance . The title track of the EP has an anguished tone with a slightly haunted grace note courtesy of a chorus of filtered female voices. Blakeslee’s own voice has a hint of Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes about it, but his would be the lower key yang to Gano’s feverish yin. Maybe traces too of Elliot Smith in the raw heart on sleeve aesthetic and Scott Walker in the unhurried elegance of the orchestral arrangements and a particularly effective tympani like drumbeat. Time is the theme, or rather our approach to it, and life. There’s a deep pull to these lines. If we only kept half of our promises We might even earn the right to exist A majestic introduction.

Playlist 418 - Oct 11 2016

A few compilations we dipped into this week. Tim Maia was a groundbreaking Brazilian singer/songwriter who paved a way in funk, out on Luaka Bop . Numero Group continue their great archive work by compiling the American kid bands who followed in the wake of The Jackson Five in the 1970s. And J&D with a Northern Soul cut from their UK soul scene 3 disc compilation. Entrance with a gorgeous chamber folk song with a hint of psych about it. Damien Jurado , compelling as ever, from the sountrack of Tumbledown . And The Sea Nymphs from the early 90s, a jaunty genreless gem. And Rattle . Two women. Two drumkits. Two voices. More on these pages. The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy Playlist 418 Tues Oct 11 2016 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *liste

Playlist 417 - Oct 4 2016

Some notable shows coming up, reflecting much of the music on this week's show. Stars of the Lid are back in Ireland for the first time in 10 years, they play Triskel Christchurch in Cork at the weekend in what should be an epic gig. Trashcan Sinatras have announced a November gig at The Workman's Club in Dublin, it's also about 10 years for them if I'm not mistaken. One of my favourite bands, and their new album is another set of lush, swooning pop songs. windings are in Coughlan's in Cork this month on the back of a new album, A Dyjecinski is on a UK tour this month, Alien Ensemble are also across the continent in November. And there's Cool Ghouls , they were in Europe recently, but is there a better cosmic Americana (read psych pop) sound around at the moment than this? More on these pages. The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed