I can never quite make my mind up above the The Rubberbandits: they are kind of like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. And in general musical comedy can have a limited appeal and longevity. However given I was in Limerick today for the first time in years (and I even took a spin through O’Malley Park for a bit of poverty tourism) I thought I would mark the occasion by sharing the just released video for their new track ‘Dads Best Friend’ (They haven’t put in an apostrophe so I’m not going to either).
As you can hear it is a pretty fierce electropop (electroclash?) track with lyrics running the gamut from cocaine & ketmaine, to auto-erotic asphyxiation, shed-based gay porn, cheese, drunk driving, trouser-press cookery, spiders, and Joop! We are not in Dooradoyle anymore Dorothy.
Dum Dum Girls - Trouble is my Name (Audio from the album Too True)
Since their early singles in 2009, through to 2012’s ‘End of Daze' EP, the Dum Dum Girls developed from a fuzzy & fun, somewhat derivative, lofi delight into a brooding behemoth capable of tugging heart strings with the merest of chord changes. So after an extended hiatus, mainly due to front woman Dee Dee Penny’s vocal chord troubles, they are back next week with their third album on Sub Pop ‘Too True.’ It is fair to say my expectations are particularly high after the smouldering preview track ‘Lost Boys And Girls Club' dropped at the end of October. The sense of anticipation was heighten this week then they released the insanely catchy 'Rimbaud Eyes' into the world.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet I managed to get a couple of listens to a “preview" copy of the album so here are my initial thoughts: The album kicks off with ‘Cult To Love’, a dark uptempo number, strewn with giddy guitar licks, pounding drums and a healthy dose of reverb. It continues in a similar vein with the striking ‘Evil Blooms’ which manages to fit a lot of drama into its 2 minutes 37 seconds. After the 80s flavoured indie-pop of ‘Rimbaud Eyes,’ we get the acoustic guitar driven ‘Are You Okay’ which layers the backing vocals and effected guitars over the down-tempo beat to heighten the heartache. ‘Too True To Be Good’ starts with a shuffling drum beat and sinewy guitar. Again the chorus is fiendishly catchy with subtle harmonies lifting it even further.
Side 2, if you will, kicks of with ‘In The Wake of You’ which tells another story of loneliness over the familiar uptempo template of punchy drums, fuzzed rhythm guitars overlain with jangly riffs and fills. After the simmering ‘Lost Boys and Girls Clubs’ the girls bring on the relatively muted ‘Little Minx’ which really doesn’t get going until the last 30 seconds and is probably the weakest track on here. The acoustic guitars get another outing on the penultimate track ‘Under These Hands’ which again seethes with tension in the verses before the catchy and harmonious chorus. The album finishes with its slowest and most dramatic song ‘Trouble Is My Name.’ Luckily it also doubles as the finest track on here. Starting only with some fuzzy guitar chords and Dee Dee’s vocals, more guitars get layered as the tension builds to the halfway mark where the drums kick in for the chorus. The cycle is them repeated before the short fade out comes all too soon.
At just 31 minutes the albums falls a little short quantity wise, and perhaps could have done with a couple of extra songs. And while the quality is high, it probably just fails to live up the expectations I had built up based on the huge leaps of of quality in the Girls material from ‘I Will Be' to 'End of Daze.' Given it is fourth record in a row they have worked on with Sune Rose Wagner (The Raveonettes) and Richard Gottehrer maybe next time it might pay to work with someone new and push the envelope a bit. I am still smitten though, maybe just of the puppy love of my initial crush.
Hospitality - Rockets and Jets (Audio)
So I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Hospitality until earlier in the week when Harmonic Presents announced on their Facebook book page that they would be playing upstairs in Dublin in Whelans on 24th May. Given that (well in my book anyway) Harmonic have a great reputation for putting on left-of-centre bands for very reasonable price, I thought I had better check them out. And I am glad I did!
Hospitality are an Brooklyn based trio of Amber Papini (guitar, vocals), Brian Betancourt (bass), and Nathan Michel (drums). Their second album ‘Trouble’ will be released on the legendary Merge Records on 27/28th January. The excellent and subtly synth infused lead single ‘Rockets and Jets’ is already out there on the interweb along with the equally fine and jaunty B-side ‘I Miss Your Bones.’ They both certainly bode well for the album and seem to be a leap in confidence and quality from their not-too-bad-at-all self-titled debut album from 2012.
The Tickets for the Dublin show in May are only €12 and are available now from Tickets.ie. I am just about to purchase mine. It might be a good idea if you do too.
Soft Metals - Tell Me (Silent Servant Edit)
The are plenty are of great him-her electronic duos out there at the moment but one of the finest has to be LA based Soft Metals, whose album ‘Lenses' was one of the high points of 2013.
I saw via Facebook a while back that they were planning a European Tout but pessimistically assumed they would miss out on Ireland. How wrong I was. The will actually be finishing their Eurotrip with three Irish dates in Dublin & Cork:
May 29 - Dublin - Whelans May 30 - Cork - TDC Triskel Arts Centre
No tickets seem to be on sale yet but I will let you know as soon as they are. In the meantime check out the Silent Servant edit of the track ‘Tell Me’ which will feature on a ‘Lenses Remixes’ LP that will be released digitally on 3rd February and on vinyl on 3rd March here.
Night Beds - Head For The Hills (Audio)
Back at the end of December we posted about the 2010 debut EP from Night Beds which they had posted as a free download online. It was nearly as good as ‘Country Sleep' and certainly filled the Winston Yellen shaped hole in our listening needs. Little did we expect, therefore, to wake this morning to find that a brand new 'Night Beds' has been released into the world via their label Dead Oceans. The track (preview for an album / one off, who knows?) is called ‘Head for The Hills’ and is the usual delicous mix of Mr. Yellen’s aching vocals of a fairly beefed up country rock backing with plenty of fine fine pedal steel guitar.
Night Beds will be touring the bollox off North America for the next two months. Hopefully there will be an album & an Irish date to follow.
Lee Bannon - NW/WB (audio from the album Alternate / Endings)
There was a time in the mid-nineties that such was my love for a bit of Jungle that I buy would by random 12”s in Comet Records on the off-chance they my be fantastic My hit rate was pretty good but over time the music morphed into many a varied off-shoot, as did my tastes. When the internet sends them my way I do occasionally pick up on the odd new break-beat- mangaling release, much to my delight. Such was the case this week with the album ‘Alternate/Endings’ from Lee Bannon on Ninja Tune. This follows up his epic 23 minutes track ‘Place/Crusher’ from last year which featured input from Poliça and Sunni Colón.
So now for a bit of background: Lee Bannon is a producer based in Sacramento, California and been releasing music for a few years. His debut album ‘Fantastic Plastic' came out in 2012 and features a whole heap of musical styles and guest MCs. As well as being a member of the Pro Era and producing beats for Joey Bada$$, he has been expanding his musical palette to encompass his love for Squarepusher type beats & Araabmuzik textures. The resulting album is a head-fucking junglist delight.
So finally, after only waiting three & quater years since The Fool, Warpaint finally return next week with the self-titled sophomore album. And fuck me it is phenomenal stuff. I am currently on my third listen today and it just keeps revealing more & more.
You may have heard the previews track ‘Love Is To Die' or the brooding 'BIggy' but that is only a fraction of the delights in store. The album is equal parts dubby, ethereal, funky, harmonious, textured, nuanced, restrained, beautiful, insouciant and sexy. So much so that I think I just creamed my pants.
Anyway if you can’t wait until Monday you can stream the whole shebang over on NPR for the next few days. Bring a tissue.
Menace Beach - Fortune Teller (audio)
Supposedly Menace Beach was a game on the Nintendo back in 1990 but I only had a Commodore 64 back then so I guess I missed out. Luckily the name has been co-opted by the Leeds based twosome of Ryan Needham and Liza Violet who are backed up by members of Hookworms, Sky Larkin, Pulled Apart By Horses & even Mansun, when needed. The track ‘Fortune Teller’ is featured on their ‘Low Talker EP’ which is released tomorrow on Memphis Industries and features four other tracks, including the rockin ‘Where I Come From’ which you can stream below.
Prior to signing to Memphis Industries Meance Beach had just a couple of other releases. Most notable was their 7” of ‘Drop Outs’ b/w ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ as part of the Too Pure Singles Club. If you like your indie-rock fuzzy, bi-gender and with a side of shoegaze look no further than Menace Beach.
Cuts - Cuts 01 (Video)
The internet seems to know absolutely fuck-all about Cuts other than the video for ‘Cuts 01’ that appeared online last week via the Invada Records website. In keeping with the Invada motif the sound has a dark electronic almost industrial feel. The band / artist / project did made an appearance at the Invada 10th Anniversary show back in December but I can’t tell you anything else. Enjoy the mystery for now.
Sprutbass - Schengen-Funk (Video)
It may have been released a couple of weeks ago but I only heard it for the first time yesterday and saw the highly entertaining video today so I thought I would share its wonder of Sprutbass with you. Sprutbass is Norwegian musician Eivind Henjum. After many years active as a musician, playing the electric bass and synth in several Norwegian bands, he decided to go it alone. After a self-titled EP in 2012 and a number of compilation tracks on Dødpop, he has really found the magic formula with the Skweee sound of ‘Schengen-Funk.’ Now Schenegn may be one of those anonymous Benelux towns famous for its agreement but the funky synth basslines of skwee are a distinctly Scandinavian phenomenon and one I am going to have to check out further after being. The track, which was originally on the 2012 EP, now has a pile of amazing remixes which you should also check out.
St. Vincent - Digital Witness (audio)
If the teasing morsel of ‘Birth in Reverse' isn't satisfying your Annie Clark flavoured hunger, thankfully another titbit has fallen from the St. Vincent dinner table in the form of 'Digital Witness.' This fine funky tune will also feature on the 'St. Vincent' album which will be with us on 24th February, just two days after she returns to Dublin to play the Olympia.
September Girls - Heartbeats (from the album Cursing The Sea)
Like some kind of sonic junkie, I have been going cold turkey over the Christmas with the lack of new music, It seems like ages since a new album was released and my craving was heightened by having to read all the positive review of ‘Cursing The Sea' without hearing. Thankfully September Girls debut LP finally hit the world today so I had its dark jangly charms to accompany me on my journeys in and out of work today.
If you haven’t been paying attention September Girls are Paula, Caoimhe, Lauren, Jessie & Sarah who have been doing their thing in and around Dublin for the last two and half years. After a string of well received single they singed to Fortuna Pop last year and have today released their twelve track debut album ‘Cursing The Sea.’ In the pieces I have read they reviewers have name checked everyone from The Bangles to Phil Spector to the Jesus and Mary Chain as influences on the ladies sound. I guess elements of those bands are there in the girls fuzzy, layered delivery but they still manage to thread their own path.
On my first few listens the tracks I has heard previously like ‘Heartbeats, ‘Green Eyed’ and especially ‘Talking’ with its incessantly familiar guitar riff, stood out, so I am expecting the whole thing will have me hooked on a few more run throughs. My only concern would be the rather murky mix which tends to bury the vocals too deep and promote the low end, like the toms and distorted bass, over the sinewy guitar leads and harmonies. A minor criticism for what is bound to be one of the stand-out Irish releases of the year.
The have plenty of tour dates coming up with the Dublin date on 17th doubling as the official album launch. See you there?
9th January 2014: London, UK - The Lexington - FortunaPOP! Winter Sprinter 10th January 2014: Leeds, UK - The Brudenell 11th January 2014: Bristol, UK - Start The Bus 17th January 2014: Dublin, Ire - Bellobar 18th January 2014: Cork, Ire - The Pavilion 24th January 2014: Limerick, Ire - Bourke’s Bar 1st February 2014: Belfast, UK - 8th February 2014: Waterford, Ire - Geoffs
The Fauns - Seven Hours (Video)
With all the end of year lists and seasonal ditties I never gave The Fauns second album ‘Lights' the attention is deserved when it was released back in December. Thankfully I have the chance to listen to it a bit more over recent weeks and am really enjoying the contemporary take on that early 90s shoegazing sound. After self-releasing their excellent self-titled debut album back in the 2009, this time around they have hooked up with Geoff Barrow’s (him of Portishead, Beak> & jetfury fame) Invada label. An extensive European tour is planned for January and February but I don’t see any Irish dates listed yet unfortunately.
Annie Graham from Aphrodite Lion - performing Holden & Jane Holding Hands live on East Coast Radio
So just before Christmas, Annie from Aphrodite Lion made her first live signing perform on the radio: on the Declan Meehan morning show on East Coast FM in Wicklow. She was on as part of a piece promoting the Rí Sessions in Arklow, at which she has performed as solo artist. There was bit of an interview before and after the performace durign which she got to give Aphrodite Lion a mention. If you like the live solo version make sure you check out the EP from whence it came.
Mode Moderne - Unburden Yourself (audio)
So at this time of the year when new music is only creeping out of its sleepy holiday hibernation you have to find inspiration wherever you can. For instance this morning I was watching a few minutes of Soccer AM while shoveling in my cornflakes. The song they played over the Championship Goals really grabbed my attention so I decided to explore further. Here’s what I came up with:
That band was Mode Moderne, a 4 piece indie-rock outfit from Vancouver, Canada made up of Phillip Intilé, Clint Lofkrantz, Sean Gilhooly, and Rebecca Gray some older photos have 5 people so I’m assuming they lost someone along the way). The track they played was ‘Unburden Yourself’ which is from their forthcoming album ‘Occult Delight’ which will be released on Light Organ Records on 20th January. The album has 12 tracks, 3 more of which you can stream below at the bottom of this post: ‘Baby Bunny’, ‘The Shadows’ and ‘She, Untamed’. As you can hear somewhat gloomy 80s indie has a big influence on their sound and even on Philip’s sonorous voice. Hey look they even released a single called ‘Real Goths’ in 2011 so don’t blame me for jumping to the obvious references.
Based on these 4 songs I feel Mode Moderne work better at the higher tempos with the bass high in the mix, but I will reserve my judgement until I have heard the full album. Luckily while I am waiting for the 20th I can check out their two earlier albums ‘Strange Bruises’ and ‘Ghosts Emerging’ via Bandcamp, Spotify etc.