Sleater-Kinney - Bury Our Friends (feat. Miranda July)
This morning, while reading about the forthcoming Sleater-KinneyStart Together boxset, I was lamenting my decision to go to see the reformed Dinosaur Jr. play in Dublin on 30th August 2005 when Sleater-Kinney were playing across town the same night and I had a ticker. J and friends have been back to Dublin a number of times since but Sleater-Kinney split up not long after so I reckoned I would never get to see them
However it seems that my pessimism was unfounded and as well as announcing a new album ‘No Cities To Love’ to be released in January, Sleater-Kinney will be playing Vicar Street in Dublin of 26th March 2015. That is only 5 months away. Tickets go on sale at 9:00am on Sunday morning so be sure to get up early and login. Oh and while you are waiting play the brilliant video for new track ‘Bury Our Friends’ on repeat.
“All the Irish seemed wired last night" - The Hold Steady & The So So Glos live in The Academy, Dublin - Saturday 18th October 2014
It’s been a long time since I was as excited about a gig as last night’s Hold Steady show but all week I had been immersed in their back catalogue catching up with Gideon, Charlemagne & Holly in Ybor City, and every pithy line from Craig or killer riff from Tad made me remember just how much I loved their work. However first up were The So So Glos from Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. As a band of brothers doing punky rock’n’roll with plenty of New York attitude and rough harmonies, they were just a perfect warm-up. The Wu-Tang t-shirt and A Tribe Called Quest cap were just the cherry on the cake.
Since I last saw The Hold Steady keyboardist Franz Nicolay has left the group and as demonstrated on ‘Teeth Dreams’, with the addition of Steve Selvidge on third guitar the band pack an even harder rocking punch. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than on the triple opening threat of ‘I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You’, ‘Constructive Summer’ and ‘Hot Soft Light’, the later of which featured Tad Kubler’s first massive solo of the night. Without his guitar Craig Finn was like a hyperactive child darting around the stay and reveling in the clever messages of his lyrics, repeating the lines off mic.
On ‘Cattle and the Creeping things’ we had our first trip to Ybor City and on ‘The Swish’ Craig finally strapped on his guitar before regaling us about powders and pills. ‘Sequestered In Memphis’ has some of THS’ biggest riffs and had the crowd screaming along while Craig made air quotes of “on business." There may always be other boys but there aren’t too many other songs as fine as ‘You Can Make Him Like You’ which nearly deafened me with it roaring guitars.
We had some ‘Rock Problems’ & “Daddy Issues” (‘Magazines’) before they dropped the pace for the glorious ‘First Night’ on which Steve got to bust out a sweet solo. Just in case we thought proceedings were going to lose a little momentum they broke out some ebullient big hitters in the form of ‘Stuck Between Stations’ and ‘Chips Ahoy!’ The crowd went suitably wild and the bouncers got a little nervous. Craig gave us a little lecture about the importance of coming out and socialising together before dropping ‘Spinners’. ‘The Weekenders’ started with a slow bass groove before exploding into the chorus. ‘Your Little Hoodrat Friend’ is about Craig’s home town of Minneapolis and he had brought a little bit of home with him in the form of his father up on the balcony. ‘Southtown Girls’ has twin solos just like the Twin Cities and on ‘Stay Postive’ we all tried to bust our lung shouting along with the “Whoa-oh-oh-ohs" while Craig slipped off stage and the band climaxed together in a well rehearsed ending.
For the encore they dedicated ‘Citrus’ to their favourite barman Steve who just happened to be home in Dublin for the night. From its slow beginning the song grew into a stomping paean to Jesus and the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers. ‘Massive Nights’ is a fine way to finish any gig but if halfway through you can morph it into The Violent Femmes ‘American Music' and bring the So So Glos back onstage for accompaniment well that is almost too good to be true. So as I sit sit here smiling, ears buzzing I raise a metaphorical toast to Craig, Tad, Steve, Galen, Bobby, Alex, Ryan, Zach, Matt and saint Joe Strummer. A Massive Night indeed.
Screaming Parent - The Gates Of Hell
Last Sunday I spent the afternoon in the Bello Bar in Portobello at No Idle Day's ” Heaven In The Afternoon" event organised by Young Hearts Run Free. It was a mixture of music, comedy, drama and culinary treats. One of the strangest but most enjoyable performances of the day was from The Dudley Corporation who blasted away the cobwebs with a rousing opening set. If the early hour wasn’t strange enough the sight of many of the band members’ young kids dancing at the front of the stage in ear protectors added to the surrealness of it.
On the subject of the Dudley Corporation front man Dudley Colley has a new side project called Screaming Parent on which he breaks out his falsetto, drum machine and synths to come over a bit Alexis Taylor. It takes a few listens but it is definitely worth it. Check out ‘The Gate of Hell’ and ‘The Descent’ above and below.
The Staves - Blood I Bled (Video)
I realised today that I have tickets for 13 gigs between now and the end of 2014. And though I am almost giddy with excitement for The Hold Steady show in The Academy tonight I have one eye and ear on The Staves gig in Whelans on Thursday. The sister’s new EP ‘Blood I Bled' arrives on 24th October but two of the tracks are out there on the net now: the title track 'Blood I Bled' which we featured last month now has a beautifully shot “Bollywood” video and the audio for sumptuous ‘Open’ is now streaming on Soundcloud below and is full of the stunning harmonies you’ve come to expect from the ladies with some added electronic sounding percussion thrown in for good measure. See you up the front on Thursday?
Conquering Animal Sound - HTR1A (Video)
Back in July we featured the track ‘The Next Day' from Conquering Animal Sound's then forthcoming EP 'Talking Shapes.’ Well the four song EP is now upon us and they have just released a video for the enigmatically titled track ‘HTR1A.’ If you have not heard Scottish-duo CAS before then the angular and melodic electropop of HTR1A will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from the rest of the catalogue. Also worth a mention is bubbly and joyous ‘Puskas’ which I assume is named in honour of legendary Hungarian footballer Ferenc Puskás. Just like Puskás, CAS hit the back of the net almost every time.
Alunageorge - One Touch (with Baauer) [Audio]
If has been just over a year since we featured piquant pop-duo AlunaGeorge on The Lions Share. But with their new single ‘Supernatural’ getting released last week and their collaboration with produce Baauer (yes him of ‘Harlem Shake’ infamy) ‘One Touch’ hitting the internet overnight I thought it would be a good time to catch up with them. I assume they are working on a follow up to 2013’s fine ‘Body Music' but we'll probably have to wait until next year to find out. Enjoy the two songs in the meantime.
Playing It Just Right - Sylvan Esso live in the Workman’s Club, Dublin - Tuesday 8th October 2014
For some reason most of the previous gigs I have been to in the Workman’s club have be criminally under-subscribed especially when you think of the talent that has performed there in recent years: Waxahatchee, Braids, Widowspeak, Night Beds etc. No such problem last night: the venue was packed with youthful exuberance, only slightly masked by the smell of cleaning fluid over piss / vomit. But enough olfactory nonsense, it was all about the formidable musical duo of Amelia Meath & Nick Sanborn aka Sylvan Esso.
They started strong with ‘Hey Mami’ which built from a cappella vocal loops into a bass heavy groove replete with flashing lights and flash dancing from Amelia. The clapping beats of ‘Dreamy Bruises’ has Amelia spitting lines like an MC while Nick coaxed all kinds of sounds out of his laptop and sundry kit. The drama of ‘Could I Be’ was first complemented by the red lighting before morphing into buoyant blue brilliance.
With is broken rhythm and dynamic shifts ‘Coffee’ sucked the crowd in so much that we started singing the refrain “my baby loves the hanky panky" spontaneously during the drop out. Amelia bust out some of her best dancing during ‘Dress’ before the four to the floor beat of ‘H.S.K.T.’ has us all feeling like we were at a rave. Things moved a little downtempo with the rumbling bass squelch of ‘Wolf’ while ‘Uncatena’s slow build kept the tension tight.
Unfortunately Sylvan Esso only have one album so by the time they got to ‘Play It Right’ they had used up almost all their material. My notes only say “Wow" at this point so I guessing it was as good as I remember. After a quick exit and return they finished the night with a spectacular version of ‘Come Down’ which began very quietly, with just vocals over sampled guitar rumblings, and then gradually built into crackling feedback at the denouement. The bare nature of the performance was a startling and staggering contrast to ebullient nature of the rest of the night and proved Sylan Esso have many strings to their musical bow. One of the most enjoyable 40 minutes of music this year hands down.
From Single Coil to Humbucker - Avi Buffalo live in Whelans, Dublin - Sunday 5th October 2014
Strolling into a uncomfortably empty Whelans at 21:00 on a stormy Sunday evening I wasn’t sure if Avi Buffalo could lighten up the evening with the sunny Californian ebullience that populates their records but I lived in hope. For the first two numbers ‘So What’ & ‘Can’t Be Too Responsible’ the photographers distractedly swarmed around the front of the stage snapping the band from every angle. So it wasn’t until track three ‘Remember Last Time’ that they fully captured our attention with Avi’s soaring solos matching his fragile falsetto. Although hitting their stride the band slightly messed up the intro to ‘Think It’s Gonna Happen’ so had to restart with more gusto and tempo.
Unexpectedly the 3 other members exited the stage leaving Avi twiddling with his effect pedals before hitting into the suggestive ‘Summer Cum’ . After a bit of banter with the crowd and rearrangement of the stage, he switched to acoustic for a short ‘Two Cherished Undertakings’ replete with aching breaking vocals. The keyboard player, Anthony Vezirian, rejoined him for ‘Overwhelmed With Pride’ on which went down well despite the plectrum crisis and some ropey vocals.
Giant bassist Doug Brown and drummer / backing vocalist Sheridan Riley returned for the prurient ‘Memories of You’ on which Avi’s guitar histrionics ended with him breaking a string. He quickly switched to his spare Gibson, which took a lot of retuning before the could start into their early single ‘What’s In It For’. His guitar playing reached even greater levels of histrionics during ‘Oxygen Tank’ where even Doug got a chance to bust out some solo bass groves. They finished their set with the rolling piano of ‘She Is Seventeen’ during which I was convinced Avi was making eyes at the young lady in the front row who looked like Lauren Mayberry. Hopefully she was more than seventeen. And that was it - no encore, having lifted the listed song into the main set. With the crowd a little flat and thin on the ground Avi Buffalo did a fine job especially when soaring, Built to Spill like, on the uptempo guitar-heavy numbers.
September Girls - Veneer (Video)
One of our favourite Irish bands September Girls have just shared the new track ‘Veneer’ from their forthcoming EP of the same name which will be released on Fortuna Pop! / Kanine on 24th November. The sound is a lot heavier than that of debut album ‘Cursing The Sea' which came out back in January but all the better for it. Can't wait to here the rest of the EP.
Annie Graham live in the Mercantile Bar, Dublin on Saturday 11th October at part of Guinness Amplify
Things have been a little quiet on the Aphrodite Lion front this year but our esteemed front woman Annie has been doing her own thing. After winning the recent Ri Sessions songwriting competition in Arklow, she will also be playing State’s Faces of 2014: Guinness Amplify edition in the Mercantile Bar on Dame Street at 8:00pm on Saturday 11th October. Click on the link to join the Facebook event. Also playing the same night are Ghosts, Leanne Harte and Dah Jevu, so all musical bases are covered.
Beautiful Noise (Movie) - 26th October 2014, Screen Cinema, Dublin
I have been reading about and seeing clips from the movie ‘Beautiful Noise' for many years now. Finally, as part of the 3rd Annual Bram Stoker Festival, I will get to see it in the Screen Cinema on 26th October.
Tickets are €8 and sure to sell out so book them here. If you are at a lose end after the movie and fancy some more Robert Smith the festival are screening The Cure In Orange in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar at 8:30pm. I used to have a dodgy VHS version of the movie back in day and it captures The Cure at their imperious best between ‘The Head on The Door' and the 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ album.
Martin Carr - The Santa Fe Skyway (Video)
I guess when most people think of The Boo Radleys, if they ever think of The Boo Radleys, then it is probably only about ‘Wake Up Boo!' And while that is still a sublime pop song, it shouldn't overshadow the 6 great albums they released in the nineties. And while Sice's shiny noggin was always the face of the Boo's it was Martin Carr's songwriting that was at the band's core.
Since they split in 1999 Carr has stayed in the game, if some what more peripherally the being on Creation Records at their peak. However while I got the first couple of Brave Captain albums I more or less lost touch of this work until I was getting my ticket for Gruff Rhys's show in The Pepper Canister on 16th December and low and behold Martin Carr is supporting. A quick bit of Goggling tell me he has a new album ‘The Breaks’ out on Monday (29/9) on Hamburg based indie Tapete Records. So far I have only two full tracks: the gorgeous layered pop of ‘Safe Fe Skyway’ which is remind of the Boo’s at their sweetest, covered in layers of strings & brass; ‘Mandy Get Your Mello On’ is acoustic-driven pop with piano, Hammond and fuzzy guitars adding the texture over the stomping beat. There are a couple of other track snippets on Soundcloud which add to emerging picture that ‘The Breaks’ is arguably some of the finest work Carr has ever done. Can’t wait to hear the rest and see him live in December.
Lamb - We Fall In Love (Audio)
Nowadays it seems like every other cool band is a him-her electronic duo but when Lamb first appeared on the scene back in the mid-nineties both their sound and their setup was pretty unique. After four albums which ranged from solid to spectacular the duo of Lou Rhodes and Andy Barlow called it quits in 2004, with Lou releasing a few solo albums and Andy doing plenty of production, remixing work as well as solo music under the name Lowb. The lure of the duo format was obviously strong and they got back together for 2011’s album ‘5’. I know I listened to it at the time but I can’t remember if it was up to their earlier standards - however given that 2001’s ‘Gabriel’ is one of my all time favourites nothing was ever going to match that.
Anyway it is now 2014 and album number 6 ‘Backspace Unwind’ is about to see the light (13 Oct 2014 on Strata/Butler Records). The throbbingly fine lead single ‘We Fall In Love' is out now and their are some live demos of album tracks floating around online, such as the piano version of below.
Going for Gold – First Aid Kit live in The Olympia, Dublin, Thursday 18th September 2014
Life is full of tricky choices: blonde or brunette; keyboard or guitar; trousers or dress; country or indie; you get the idea. Thankfully the Söderberg sisters have all the bases covered: Johanna is all long blonde hair, dressed in matching golden jacket and flares while standing behind her keyboard whereas Klara’s long brown hair spills down over her shoulders onto her black & gold dress while she strums her acoustic guitar. And while at times it has appeared somewhat incongruous to me that two young Swedish sisters are so drenched in Americana, over their three & half albums First Aid Kit have proven no one currently does alt-country pop better than them.
Their Olympia show kicked of with the title track of their current album ‘Stay Gold’ which, after a slightly nervous strummed start, exploded into life for the chorus. When I last saw the girls play in Vicar Street in November 2012, they were just accompanied by a drummer, however on this tour Melvyn Duffy has also come along to add lots of texture via his pedal steel. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than on their second song ‘Blue’. After some introductions and nods to all their musical heroes that had played The Olympia before them they struck into exuberant hand-clap fuelled ‘King of The World.’ ‘Waitress Song’ which followed was all strum, drum and girls just want to have fun.
The shifted down the pace for a run of mellower tracks in form of ‘Shattered & Hollow’, ‘In the Hearts of Men’ & ‘Cedar Lane’. And then for ‘Ghost Town’ they abandon amplification altogether and sang from the edge the stage with just Klara’s guitar and the crowd sing-along for accompaniment. Once we negotiated the swooping pedal steel and multiple chorus peaks of ‘My Silver Lining’ they threw in an unexpected cover of Jack White’s ‘Love Interruption’ which veered on full rocking-out territory. ‘Wolf’ was delivered with stomping drums with the girls basked in red lights and smoke, while for set closer ‘The Lion’s Road’ they were bathed in blue while they teased with multiple false-endings.
For the encore they returned without drummer Niklas Lindström and performed the delicate ‘A Long Time Ago’ with just Johanna’s electric piano and some subtle pedal-steel. After a cheesy joke from Klara they dropped one “shit & one “fuck” into the lyrics of ‘Master Pretender’. To finish the night, and with another nod to their musical heroes, they filled creaky old Olympia with the marvellous melodies of ‘Emmylou’. As they completed their bows and departed the stage, the PA spilled out Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun' which was a subtle nod back to ‘Waitress Song’. Sublime.
The Staves - Blood I Bled (audio)
Mixed musical news in my e-mail - a opportunity to win tickets to see Enrique Iglesias and Demi Lovato in Barcelona or a link to the single from The Staves together with news of an intimate Dublin gig in just over a month? Sorry Enrique you can stick your “Sex and Love” Tour up your Latin hole - it is the Stavely-Taylor sisters for me every time.
Having been ensconced in Wisconsin with Justin Vernon the first fruit of their labour has appeared in the form of ‘Blood I Bled’ which is the lead track off an EP of the same name which drops on 28 October 2014. No news on the name or date for the album yet. As you can hear ‘Blood I Bled’ starts of subdued and folky, with the sisters’ vocals delicately interweaving and harmonising, before the beats, brass and stings join the fray and a more Bon Iveresque feel to proceedings. If you like what you hear be sure to snap up tickets for their short UK & Ireland tour in October:
20th - Manchester - Deaf Institute 21st - Glasgow - Cottier Theatre 23rd - Dublin - Whelans 24th - Limerick - Dolans 26th - Birmingham - Institute Temple 27th - London - Crypt on the Green
If you sign up to their mailing list you get access to the tickets a few days before they go on general sale.