Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tom Waits: free Glitter and Doom sample

Live albums miss more often than they hit, but going on samples of Tom Waits' upcoming release Glitter and Doom Live, this could be a good 'un. Recorded on last summer's tour of Europe and the U.S., the two-disc collection will feature a whole disc of Waits' between-song ramblings, if that's what you're into. Waits is giving away eight tracks as a free sample to anyone who registers their e-mail address. Details here:

It's fantastic stuff, with the version of 'Circus' standing out in particular on first listen. The eight tracks featured are: Lucinda / Ain't Goin Down, Singapore, Get Behind The Mule, Fannin Street, Dirt In The Ground, Such A Scream, Live Circus, and Goin' Out West. Glitter and Doom will be released November 23rd. The tracklisting in full:

01. Lucinda / Ain't Goin Down
02. Singapore
03. Get Behind The Mule
04. Fannin Street
05. Dirt In The Ground
06. Such A Scream
07. Live Circus
08. Goin' Out West
09. Falling Down
10. The Part You Throw Away
11. Trampled Rose
12. Metropolitan Glide
13. I'll Shoot The Moon
14. Green Grass
15. Make It Rain
16. Story
17. Lucky Day

Disc 2:

'Tom Tales'

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pavement announced for Primavera 2010

It's the news a lot of people have been keeping their fingers crossed for - the reformed Pavement will be playing at what many regard as the best festival in Europe next May.

From their website:

'San Miguel Primavera Sound is very proud to announce as part of their 10th year celebrations that the legendary US band Pavement will headline May 27th 2010. The Festival takes place on the 27th, 28th and 29th of May.

After years of speculation, arguably the most important American band of the Nineties is returning to the stage with the line-up of Mark Ibold, Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg, Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Steve West reuniting for dates around the world in 2010 including shows in New York, London, ATP UK and now Primavera Sound, which is the first date to be confirmed in mainland Europe.

Along with Nirvana, the Pixies and Sonic Youth, Pavement are universally considered one of the pillars of indie rock. Their recorded output includes the massively influential classics "Slanted and Enchanted" and "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain".

It is the tenth time that the festival opens its doors to more than 150 artists and a public that has grown with us in age and in numbers. In these ten years more than 800 artists and bands, have played at the San Miguel Primavera Sound, covering many different styles and tastes, all within what we who organise this festival consider to be good music: rock, pop, folk, punk, hardcore, metal, experimental, electronic... From Motörhead to Aphex Twin, from Pulp to Animal Collective and from Subterranean Kids to Gentle People. We have tried to give you an overview of this decade from our point of view without forgetting classical names that have influenced these new generations.

Today Tuesday 27th of October you will be able to buy the full festival tickets for the San Miguel Primavera Sound 2010 at the price of 95 euro (+ booking fee), this price will be valid until the 30th of November. From the 1st December the price will be 99 euro (+ booking fee).

The tickets will be on sale on the Ticketmaster network (Tick Tack Ticket), CD Drome shops, RIFT shops, Seetickets UK, Fnac France and through Paypal on the festival webpage.'

Primavera Sound, held every year in Barcelona, will be celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2010, and they're opening up the floor to votes on who the fans would like to see returning:

'The tenth edition of Primavera Sound is gathering momentum, and this year we have decided to take the usual participation of the festival’s public through our forum, one step further. To this end we have created a questionnaire in which all the registered users of our forum can vote for their favourite concert in the history of Primavera Sound. We have chosen a limited number from each year.

To participate in the survey all you have to do is be registered on the forum of our web ( and fill out the questionnaire which is at the following address

The process is simple: Choose the years you have been to the festival, and once you have done this chose five artists from each edition, except in 2001 in which there are only two options. From this first stage we will get 50 artists, from which 25 will be chosen in the second stage. From these 25 acts we will ask the public to chose who should play at Primavera Sound 2010.

We will do everything possible to bring the artists who are chosen in this survey to our tenth anniversary, we think that it is a nice way to celebrate ten years of something which has become for many people (including ourselves) an unmissable musical event.'

Exciting stuff!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Year In Gigs So Far : Part 1


MOGWAI, Academy, Dublin, March 20 – Opening with the ominous swelling guitars of ‘The Precipice’ and the haunting tones of ‘Small Children in the Background’, Mogwai proceed to slay The Academy on the first night of a three-night stand. An excellent set takes in hypnotic The Hawk Is Howling mood-pieces like ‘Scotland’s Shame’ and ‘Thank You Space Expert’ as well as the Glaswegians’ legendary feedback-drenched sonic assaults (‘Like Herod’, ‘Batcat’), with the 20-minute-plus encore of ‘My Father My King’ climaxing in a bout of sustained aural torture - in the best possible sense of course. An intense live experience.

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, Tripod, March 27 – The Baltimore experimentalists have well and truly gone from being a cult concern to the verge of the mainstream this past year, a state of affairs reflected by a wedged Tripod. Unfortunately, there's a high proportion of idiots among that crowd, with the rave influences evident on Merriweather Post Pavilion seemingly giving certain people the idea that an Animal Collective gig is the perfect place to recreate Creamfields. Oh well. A somehat disorientating, trancey set, with tunes blending and segueing into one another, often barely recognisable compared to their recorded versions, it’s compelling stuff – the MPP holy trinity of ‘My Girls’, ‘Summertime Clothes’ and ‘Brother Sport’ are greeted rapturously, while ‘Leaf House’ and a soaring, extended version of ‘Fireworks’ also stand out as highlights.


PRIMAVERA SOUND FESTIVAL, Parc del Forum, Barcelona, 28 May-30 May

For anyone accustomed to trudging around muddy fields and camping in stormy weather during music festivals, Primavera Sound is a bit of a culture-shock. Situated in the beautiful setting of the Parc Del Forum, the site is mostly concrete, and with the exception of the Auditorium (reserved for a handful of shows) all the stages are outdoor ones. While I can’t help but feel that watching the likes of Bat For Lashes on an outdoor stage under roasting sunlight kind of takes away from the atmosphere a bit, there’s no arguing with the stellar line-up that Primavera provides. It also differs from the Irish festival experience in that the music continues until the small hours of the morning. Which, unfortunately, isn’t so great when you neglect to pace your drinking...

First up on the line-up for us are Canadians Women, who turn out a set distinguished by abrasive guitars and spiky, sharp tunes, even if they’re not quite as compelling in the live setting as they are on record. The Vaselines, playing the picturesque Rock Deluxe Stage (against the backdrop of the Mediterranean, the stage faces a row of Roman-Colisseum-style ascending stone steps), are excellent, with 24-carat Cobain-approved classics like ‘Molly’s Lips’ and ‘Son Of A Gun’ rubbing shoulders with lesser-known, punky numbers like ‘Teenage Superstars’ and ‘Sex Sux (Amen)’, as well as an exuberant, bouncy rendition of ‘You Think You’re a Man’. Amusingly, their onstage banter is almost as filthy as their lyrics.

Yo La Tengo take to the Main Stage with an awesome bout of sustained guitar-shredding that must go on for well over ten minutes, following it with ‘Autumn Sweater’ which sounds positively sublime in this setting – one of the highlights of the weekend, no doubt. Their well-received set is a mix of new material from their forthcoming album and crowd-pleasing classics like ‘Sugarcube’ and ‘Mr. Tough’. Soon after midnight, it’s My Bloody Valentine’s turn, and if there were any doubts over whether their ear-splitting volume levels would be facilitated by the open-air setting, they’re soon obliterated by the bone-shaking first notes of ‘I Only Said’. Unfortunately, despite the overpowering loudness, the sound is very muddy and indistinct, with the crucial melodies submersed in the mix all but lost. Still, when the inevitable White Noise section arrives during ‘You Made Me Realise’, all I can do is look around me with a deeply perverse grin on my face as people wince and shield their ears.

Over at the ATP Stage, The Horrors are battling sound problems, and it’s looking like a losing battle, with the MBV-like ‘Scarlet Fields’ – one of the songs of the year so far – failing to take flight despite their best efforts. Between this and Wavves’ disastrous aborted set and onstage meltdown, I seem to be pushed into a state of drunken disillusionment for the rest of the early hours, and indeed manage to somehow get lost on the way back to the hostel.

Friday is a new day though, and it begins with Crystal Stilts’ solid, tight set on the Pitchfork stage. Resembling a gang of indie nihilists in the style of The Jesus and Mary Chain, tunes like ‘The Dazzled’ and ‘Departure’ ooze a detached coolness, but it does feel a tad one-dimensional after a while, and I’m left wishing they’d play some of their mellower numbers for the sake of variety. Over on the Main Stage, we’re pleasantly surprised to see that one-time member of Ash, Charlotte Hatherley, is now a member of Bat For Lashes’ touring band. As alluded to already, the mystical, atmospheric qualities inherent in Bat For Lashes’ music aren’t best served by the early-evening time-slot, but Natasha Khan makes it work: the Two Suns material sounds terrific live, with ‘I Sleep Alone’ and the superb ‘Siren Song’ in particular standing out, while ‘Two Planets’ sets the stage for a bout of tribalistic percussion that goes down well.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart may have made their name this year with fey, jangly C86 homages, but it’s surprising how much they rock live: they tear through an all-too-brief set with no little vigour, tunes like ‘Come Saturday’ and ‘Young Adult Friction’ sounding much more muscular and less cute than on record. It’s just as well their set isn’t the longest, however, because the queue outside the Auditorium for My Bloody Valentine’s second set of the weekend is insane. By the time we make it inside the building, after what must be at least an hour, the strains of opening song ‘I Only Said’ are already ringing out surprisingly clear as we climb the steps, and we enter the Auditorium itself in time for ‘When You Sleep’: it’s incredible. This is the third time I’ve seen MBV in the last year: the first time the sheer thrill of seeing the group who created the greatest album of all time in the flesh was enough to send me into fits of ecstacy; now, however, the full scale and force of the MBV live experience hits me square in the face. The sound inside the Auditorium is amazing, the volume levels are skull-crushingly loud, and the hallucinatory visuals only add to the disorientating effect. I never thought I’d hear myself saying it, but ‘When You Sleep’ actually sounds even better in this setting than it does on Loveless – in other words, yes, you can improve on perfection apparently. The same goes for the superlative ‘You Never Should’: it’s no exaggeration to say that witnessing this song played live under these kind of sound conditions is like being at the centre of a hurricane, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. At times during the gig it all gets too much and I resort to the foam earplugs handed out on the way in, while the prospect of a second ‘Holocaust’ in two days sees us leave before the infamous White Noise sets in. No matter: this will remain one of the most intense and unforgettable live shows I’ve witnessed. A few months later, an acquaintance who attended Primavera will inform me that the Auditorium’s PA system was destroyed afterwards, which only adds to the awesomeness.

As we make our way back outside resembling victims of shell-shock, the strains of The Mae Shi can be heard coming from the Pitchfork Stage, so off there we head. They’re putting on a highly enjoyable, frenetic show, with crowd participation high on their list of priorities, but the tunes are no slouches either, with the effervescent ‘Run To Your Grave’ and singalong number ‘I Get (Almost) Everything I Want’ going down a storm. Dan Deacon is another artist who puts a high premium on audience participation, but it’s not going quite so well this time around: most of those present don’t seem to have a clue what he’s trying to get them to do, and the rest of us grow increasingly restless as he eats up set-time trying to get a conga going. When he does get down to it, the Bromst material makes for hypnotic, fascinating stuff live, and the opening strains of ‘The Crystal Cat’ are the precursor to one of the most joyous mass-crowd-freak-outs of the weekend.

It’s over to the Main Stage then for Bloc Party. They’ve been on the receiving end of quite the backlash of late, but they’ve enough high-quality material in their arsenal to always be an enticing live prospect, and tonight it’s very much a ‘greatest hits’ set. ‘Banquet’, ‘Positive Tension’ and ‘This Modern Love’ still sound fantastic live, while later-career tracks like storming opener ‘One Month Off’ and the spellbinding ‘Signs’ are worthy enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. It’s clear by now that they’re a well-drilled live unit, and such is the energy and anthemic quality of their set that the clumsiness and over-earnestness that threatens to sink them on record is forgotten about.

By Saturday, things are beginning to take their toll, and the early part of the evening is spent walking around the site in a hungover haze. The drone/shoegaze textures of Jesu and the quirky folk of Herman Dune are sampled, and both impress, but things really start heating up come 9pm, when the rest of the stages pretty much shut down in anticipation of Neil Young’s Main Stage set. Thrillingly, the grizzled veteran rises to the occasion, as if he’s been galvanised by the sight of all the young whippersnappers with their distorted lo-fi tricks and wants to show them who’s still the boss of the searing guitar freak-out. Opening with the Ragged Glory cut ‘Mansion On The Hill’, Young goes on to dazzle Primavera with a majestic set, rolling out the classics: a ferocious ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black); a sprightly ‘Are You Ready For The Country?’; a wonderful electric version of the elegiac ‘Pocahontas’; a blistering ‘Cinnamon Girl’; an epic ‘Down By The River’ that features some thrilling fretwork abuse... they’re all here, but most surprising of all is when the haunting guitar lines of ‘Cortez The Killer’ (if you’re to believe rock mythology, the song was once banned in Spain) ring out over the late-evening air - it’s the glorious highlight of one of the most amazing live performances I’ve witnessed. As Young and his band take their bow, he sports a Barcelona scarf (the Champions League victory over Man United just three days old at this stage) and receives a deafening ovation from the elated masses.

With that, we venture over to the far side of the site and the ATP Stage, where Liars are next up. Dead on our feet after Young’s lengthy set, we opt to watch the show from the high, grassy embankment that overlooks the stage from the right-hand side. ‘We’d like to thank Neil Young for opening for us’, they announce playfully, but judging by the fervent crowd that’s flocked to this area of the festival, Liars are the main attraction of the night for many. The sinister textures and polyrhythmic drumming of tunes like ‘Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack’ and ‘A Visit From Drum’ lend a tribalistic atmosphere to proceedings, but there’s also plenty of sharp, needly post-punk in a varied set. I can’t help feeling slightly detached from it all given my lack of proximity to the action, but hey, fatigue is a killer.

As the festival enters the early hours of Sunday morning, Sonic Youth take to the Main Stage, and one wonders if the curse of Neil Young (long story) has struck them once again, as the sound quality is strangely flat. The set is heavy on material from new album The Eternal, with Ranaldo’s ‘What We Know’ and the Gordon-sung ‘Calming The Snake’ standing out, while it’s disappointingly light on guitar interplay and freeform noise. ‘Pink Steam’ apart, it’s very much a ‘heads down, rock out’ performance, the biggest thrills being the Daydream Nation one-two of ‘The Sprawl’ and ‘’Cross The Breeze’ as well as an encore of the redoubtable ‘Bull In The Heather’. They close with ‘Expressway To Yr Skull’, which may well be a nod to Young, who’s said to have described it in the past as the ‘greatest guitar song ever written’.

Morrissey collapses at Swindon gig

Morrissey's performance at the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon last night was cut short after just one song as the former Smiths frontman was taken to hospital. According to sources, Morrissey was visibly straining during his opening number, 'This Charming Man', and at the end of the song his knees buckled and he collapsed. Band members helped him off stage and he was taken to hospital by ambulance. According to a spokesman for the Great Western Ambulance service, the singer was 'reported to be suffering from respiratory problems'. Morrissey's condition is said to be stable and not life-threatening. The singer has had to cancel a number of shows in the past year due to ill health.

No Age reschedule cancelled show

Due to a 'travel mishap', LA noiseniks No Age had to cancel last night's show in Crawdaddy at short notice. However, they've quickly made up for it, resheduling a date for tonight at Academy 2. The No Age 'all ages show' at The Exchange will also go ahead (doors 3pm), and Crawdaddy tickets will be accepted for either gig.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hercules and Love Affair to play Tripod in December

Yet more good news on the live front! Hercules and Love Affair, whose self-titled album was one of the most impressive of 2008, will play Dublin's Tripod on December 12th. Signed to DFA, their live show has even clubbier vibe than their recorded output, certainly if their excellent Electric Picnic performance last year was anything to go by. Tickets are 20 euro.

Wild Beasts for Academy 2

Kendal, England-based group Wild Beasts have been garnering a helluva lot of praise for their second album Two Dancers, released this year, and while i'm not as sold on them as some people seem to be, at their best they're a compelling mixture of dark alt-rock textures and camp flamboyance. Anyways, they'll be playing a date at Dublin's Academy 2 on Thursday, November 5th - well worth checking out, that is if you're not already attending the mighty Yo La Tengo at Tripod the same night!

Battles to play Tripod in December

As part of U:Mack's 15th birthday celebrations, Battles - as well as a number of bands yet to be announced - will be playing Dublin Tripod on December 10th. The gig will see the 'Irish debut of new material from their forthcoming album'. Nice one. It will also apparently be a late one, with the party lasting 'til the wee hours. December is looking like a serious month for gigs.

Compilation Review: BRAINLOVE RECORDS - Fear of a Wack Planet

(This article was originally written for the website Muso's Guide,

Founded in 2003, London-based Brainlove Records prides itself on its stated aim of being an “umbrella organisation and community for the creators and listeners of genre-bending, left-of-centre music”. Fear Of A Wack Planet is a follow-up of sorts to their well-received 2008 compilation Two Thousand And Ace, and fortunately their ability with a pun is no indication of the quality of music on offer. Put simply, this is one of the most eclectic and consistently surprising label compilations you can imagine: Brainlove Records doesn’t hold a loyalty to any particular genre, with the 27-song set encompassing everything from chiptune to post-rock to twee-folk.

Opening with Mat Riviere’s ‘FYH’, a tune that resembles Why? with its gothic atmosphere and stark vocal delivery, it’s an attention-grabber from the start. Stairs To Korea’s ‘Boy Bear It In Mind’ packs a wealth of joyous Belle & Sebastian-style hooks and neat, clever lyrics into its three minutes; Internet Forever’s ‘Break Bones’ is a fuzzy DIY twee-pop treat; while Penny Broadhurst & The Maffickers’ ‘Comenzo’ is a C86 shamble that hinges on the catchy refrain “Our love started with a mixtape”. But while there’s plenty to appeal to fans of all things fey and jangly, such moments rub shoulders with some genuine curveballs, such as the beguiling 8-bit beats of Pagan Wanderer Lu’s ‘Nintendo Folk’ or the child-let-loose-in-a-toy-store stylings of Kid Carpet (‘Go Get Yourself a Hammer’).

Elsewhere, Jam On Bread provides the wry, breezy nerd-blues of ‘Wikipedia Says I’m Dying’, Trademark’s ‘At Loch Shiel’ sounds like the Pet Shop Boys trapped in some nightmarish netherworld, while The Bear Driver supply a killer of a track in ‘No Time To Speak’, which tips its cap to any number of new-Americana luminaries with its melancholic - yet strangely rousing – sweep. However, the number one prize has to go to Bristol ‘punk-hop’ artist Ratface, and the delirious, infectious ‘Fruit and Veg’. It’s a track that buzzes with originality and invention, featuring a compelling rant/rap anchored by a massive, irresistible groove, and it’s easily one of the most striking things I’ve heard this year. What’s more, despite its unconventional nature, you could easily envisage it being a massive hit.

Fear Of A Wack Planet isn’t a flawless compilation, but it seems somewhat disingenuous to single out individual tracks for criticism. Even the weaker inclusions here have something to recommend them, some kind of spark that indicates potential, and there’s certainly no act or artist here that you’d dismiss out of hand. And the stronger tracks? Well, if there’s a better indicator out there of the health of the UK underground music scene, I’d like to hear it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Modest Mouse Ticket Updates

Apologies for the confusion, but our sources were premature on this one. It turns out that Modest Mouse will not be playing in Limerick at all in December, while their gig in Galway will not be in the Black Box on December 4th, as previously announced, but in the Live Lounge of The Radisson on December 5th. Also, their Belfast date will be in Mandela Hall, not Spring & Airbrake.

5 Dec 2009 Radisson Hotel Galway
7 Dec 2009 Academy Dublin (SOLD OUT)
8 Dec 2009 Academy Dublin
9 Dec 2009 Mandella Hall Belfast

EP Review: Stagecoach - 'We Got Tazers' (Alcopop)

(This article was originally written for the website Muso's Guide,

In an interview with The 405 recently, Stagecoach claimed that “We wanted to make Country music but then things evolved around the time we rediscovered our tape collections from 1993. The songs are about the usual stuff, hot dogs, girls, cars.” Bearing that in mind, the music on their new EP We Got Tazers doesn’t hold much surprises: this is breezy, unpretentious power-pop, delivered with no little enthusiasm or panache.

The title track is a jaunty affair distinguished by chiming guitars and a nagging chorus hook (“Who needs guns when/We got tazers/Knocking down the doors and smashing the windows of our neighbours”), while ‘Hotdoggin’ is a rousing alt-country workout with echoes of Primal Scream’s Give Out But Don’t Give Up/’Country Girl’ phases or Wilco’s breezier, less abrasive moments. Both are enjoyable and charming in their own way, but there’s a lack of invention or individualism that’s even more apparent on the unremarkable brace of ‘Break’ and ‘Ice Age’. ‘Good Luck With Your 45’, meanwhile, goes for the anthemic jugular with chunky power-chords and a grandstanding chorus tailored for mass festival singalongs. It’s more than a little cheesy, and may cause flashbacks for anyone who lived through the Britpop wars.

Stagecoach may be aiming for the same sweet spot hit by Teenage Fanclub or Fountains Of Wayne, but their songwriting lacks the bittersweet, wistful quality that marked those acts out. There’s potential here for sure, but when there’s a plethora of new music coming at us from every angle, it’s all the more important for a band to either push boundaries or impress us with a distinctive personality. Hot dogs, girls and cars can only get you so far.