Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Modest Mouse December dates

Finally some ticket details. Tickets for Modest Mouse's December gigs will go on sale tomorrow, September 30th at 9am. Full dates below..Incidentally, Johnny Marr is no longer a member of the band - he's now a full-time Crib. Although the Sugababes are rumoured to be tapping him up as we speak.

4 Dec Black Box, Galway
5 Dec Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick
7 Dec Academy, Dublin
8 Dec Academy, Dublin
9 Dec Spring & Airbrake, Belfast

Friday, September 25, 2009


''I'll tell you about punk rock: punk rock is a word used by dilettantes and, uh... and, uh... heartless manipulators, about music... that takes up the energies, and the bodies, and the hearts and the souls and the time and the minds, of young men, who give what they have to it, and give everything they have to it. And it's a... it's a term that's based on contempt; it's a term that's based on fashion, style, elitism, satanism, and, everything that's rotten about rock 'n' roll.'I don't know Johnny Rotten... but I'm sure, I'm sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does as Sigmund Freud did.

You see, what, what sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise... is in fact... the brilliant music of a genius... myself. And that music is so powerful, that it's quite beyond my control. And, ah... when I'm in the grips of it, I don't feel pleasure and I don't feel pain, either physically or emotionally. Do you understand what I'm talking about? Have you ever, have you ever felt like that? When you just, when you just, you couldn't feel anything, and you didn't want to either. You know, like that? Do you understand what I'm saying, sir? ''

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Album Review: CODES - Trees Dream In Algebra (EMI)

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

Trees Dream In Algebra is the debut album from Dublin-based four-piece CODES, but listening to it, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. From the tight musicianship and accomplished songwriting to the polished production and right down to the painstaking artwork, it’s difficult to imagine a band arriving more fully-realised. Not that they’ve materialised out of the blue: there’s been a buzz building around this act on the Irish music scene for quite a while – it helps that their ambitious, grandiose but unmistakeably pop sound stands in stark contast to the variations on indie-rawk/garage trash that domestic bands tend to favour - but even their most vocal supporters will probably be surprised at the quality of this record.

It’s an album in the truest sense; sequenced for maximum effect, peaking and swelling dramatically, and featuring recurring themes of snow and winter. Hell, such is the courage of its convictions that they’ve even done a Foals on it and left out one of their most popular songs, the Irish-charting single ‘Edith’. Opening track ‘Malfunctions’ sets the scene expertly with pulse-quickening, hyperactive electronics before segueing into ‘This Is Goodbye’, a track that showcases much of what is great about the band: an infectious cental hook, vocals that swoop and soar in all the right places and a chorus that sounds more gloriously show-stopping every time you hear it. It makes for a superb calling card, but there’s barely time to breathe before an insistent drumbeat and swirling, reverbed guitars announce ‘Guided By Ghosts’, where delightful harmonies jostle for attention with an instrumental backdrop that never stays in one place for too long.

When they scale things back, they’re just as impressive. ‘Magnetic North’ could well be the best track of the bunch – three minutes of gorgeous, dreamy ambience that leads into a dazzling instrumental and choral crescendo that Sigur Ros would be proud to call their own. Harmony-driven songs like ‘Cities’ and ‘In Algebra’, meanwhile, recall Delays’ better moments in their tuneful sweep. Throughout, Trees Dream In Algebra exhibits a cinematic aesthetic and sensibility, the tunes achieving an impressive balance between sky-scraping emoting and delicate atmospherics.

It’s obvious how much care and attention to detail went into creating this album, and the songwriting is impressive throughout. If there is a criticism, it’s that – particularly around the mid-point of the album – the grandiosity gets a bit overwhelming, and the album could maybe stand to lose a track from its total running time. It’s a relatively minor quibble though: this is the finest release by an Irish band in quite some time, and, considering how accomplished they sound now, one can only wonder where they end up going from here.

CODES will be playing an album launch show in Dublin's Academy on Saturday night. They follow that up with an appearance at the Lucan Festival on Sunday night and a show in The Set Theatre, Kilkenny on October 2nd. Friday night's show in Sligo has unfortunately had to be cancelled due to illness.

26 Sep 2009 Album Launch Show @ The Academy Dublin
27 Sep 2009 Lucan Festival 2009 Dublin
2 Oct 2009 The Set Theatre - Langtons Kilkenny


The ever-prolific Bradford Cox will bring his Atlas Sound solo project to Whelans this November 21st. Much-anticipated second album Logos is released on October 19th, and if you haven't heard the sublime 'Walkabout', his collaboration with Avey Tare (Panda Bear) of Animal Collective, then rectify that state of affairs this instant. Get it here:

Modest Mouse will play a number of dates around the country in December, including two dates in Dublin's Academy. They recently released No One's First, And You're Next, an EP collecting out-takes from the sessions for their last two studio albums. Much-lauded Scots Frightened Rabbit will provide support. Modest Mouse are also part of the mouth-watering line-up for the 10 Years Of ATP Festival in December (

4 Dec Black Box, Galway
5 Dec Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick
7 Dec Academy, Dublin
8 Dec Academy, Dublin
9 Dec Spring & Airbrake, Belfast

Ticket details have yet to be announced.

The xx will also play Irish shows in what's looking like a fantastic December for gigs (let's not forget Sonic Youth will play their first headline show in Ireland for over 10 years). The young foursome have been gathering rave reviews far and wide for their stark, darkly compelling debut album.

15 Dec Speakeasy, Belfast
16 Dec Roisin Dubh, Galway
17 Dec Pavilion, Cork
19 Dec Button Factory, Dublin

There's a mouth-watering double-bill in store on November 9th in Whelans: Japandroids and A Place to Bury Strangers. The former have released one of the finest albums of the year so far, the superb Post-Nothing. The latter have been described as the 'most ear-shatteringly loud garage/shoegaze band you'll ever hear' (The Washington Post), so bring your ear-plugs.

Coming up a lot sooner than all of the above is the visit of LA noiseniks HEALTH, whose new album Get Colour has been attracting much praise and living up to some pretty high expectations. They'll play The Village on Thursday October 1st. They're extremely loud. Earplugs might be an idea here as well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Album Review: THE CRIBS - Ignore The Ignorant (Wichita)

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

The Cribs’ 2007 album Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever was one of the best straight-up guitar records released that year: it saw the hitherto defiantly lo-fi Wakefield trio smoothing out their sound (with the help of producer Alex Kapranos) without losing any of their vital edge. Combined with their grass-roots attitude to live gigs and their entertaining media soundbites (around the time of the Live 8 concerts, frontman Ryan Jarman announced that ‘‘the mainstream attitude of most indie bands’’ was a bigger threat to the planet than global warming), it set The Cribs up as the anti-Razorlight or the anti-Killers; a beacon of indie integrity in the face of arena-rock pandering; the sort of guitar band you’d be tippexing onto your pencil case if you were still in school.

And then, things took a surprising turn. Fresh from a short dalliance with Modest Mouse, ex-Smiths guitarist and living legend Johnny Marr heard the furious ‘Hey Scenesters!’ on his radio, and after a meeting with bassist/singer Gary Jarman, asked to join the band for some dates. The initial novelty of seeing this grizzled veteran jamming with three irreverent upstarts was nothing compared to the news that he was to become a full-time member of the band, initiated into the gang as it were.

While Marr’s influence on Modest Mouse’s sound was arguably fairly negligible, at least in a noticeable sense, his stamp is all over the Jarman brothers’ fourth album. If the title indicates a politicising of the band’s anti-scenester invective (the British National Party won a seat in the band’s Yorkshire constituency), the reality is that the Cribs have mellowed somewhat. While opening track ‘We Were Aborted’ pulses with declamatory, righteous anger, it’s lead single ‘Cheat On Me’ that serves notice of the changes in their sound: the guitarwork is melodic and elegant rather than clanging or spiky, Ryan almost croons the words instead of bellowing them, while the general tone – musically and lyrically - seems wistful and conflicted, in contrast to the self-assured verve of yore.

‘City Of Bugs’ is another curveball for those who expected Men’s Needs: Part II. The band collaborated with Lee Ranaldo on their last album, and the influence of Sonic Youth is evident on this track, its atmospheric guitar and evocative lyrics (‘’A perfumed gust drifts to my core / I give you one last look / Through a cross-hatched door’’) interspersed with passages of squall. Elsewhere, ‘Last Year’s Snow’ and ‘Save Your Secrets’ are chiming, (whisper it) mature-sounding ballads, the former more successful than the rather limp latter.
Surprisingly, it’s the more uptempo numbers where Ignore The Ignorant really fails to make an impact. The much-vaunted title-track turns out to be something of a damp squib, its rinkety-dink rhythm recalling frivolous Britpop rather than furious agit-prop (although fair play to the band for addressing the BNP issue), while tracks like ‘We Share The Same Skies’ and ‘Victim of Mass Production’ sound as generic and personality-free as the bands The Cribs used to condemn. Which is worrying.

You can’t ignore Marr’s role in all this. While his playing is frequently impressive here, it’s just hard to see what either party is gaining from this union. While the Cribs’ sound has become fuller and more subtle, it’s at the expense of the dynamic energy and raw intensity that were the essence of the band. Nothing on this record matches the furious blitz of ‘Major’s Titling Victory’ or ‘Hey Scenesters!’ – instead, we have another of those dreaded 'mature' albums from acts who don’t need to mature. The result is that the Jarmans and their new pal are increasingly in danger of becoming exactly what they railed against, and what we want them to rail against.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Kanye West has been acting like a Class A gimp for quite some time now, but the self-styled 'voice of his generation' sunk to new lows last night at the MTV Video Music Awards. As 19-year-old Taylor Swift accepted her award for Best Female Video, West stormed the stage, grabbed the microphone from a bewildered Swift and told her “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but BeyoncĂ© has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” (Swift's video for 'You Belong With Me' had beaten Beyonce's 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)' to the prize). The audience were reduced to a stunned silence, Beyonce looked mortified in the crowd, while poor Swift was close to tears.

West has previous in this respect, of course: at the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards, he interrupted an acceptance speech to protest that the video for Justice VS Simian's 'We Are Your Friends' had beaten his promo for 'Touch The Sky' to Best Video, despite the fact that his one cost loads of money and featured Pamela Anderson (reliable indicators of creative genius).

Fair play to Beyonce, who later invited Swift up on stage while accepting her own award - it seems that you can be a multi-million selling superstar and retain some dignity at the same time. Kanye, take some notes. Gimp.

LIVE REVIEW: Sunset Rubdown - Crawdaddy, Dublin. September 12th

(This review was originally written for the website

‘‘Good evening, we’re Sunset Rubdown. There’s no other bands tonight, so we’re going to do a long set.’’ Not long enough, as it turns out – such is the quality of the Montreal five-piece’s set. Sometime ‘side-project’ of Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug, there’s every indication that the group are on the verge of a breakthrough that would see them dwarf their parent band; in many critics’ eyes, they already have, with this year’s superb Dragonslayer a worthy follow-up to 2007’s acclaimed, ambitious Random Spirit Lover.

Sunset Rubdown share traits with many of their Canadian peers: complex, interwoven instrumentation; climactic flourishes and unpredictable tempo changes; emotive vocals and hyper-literate lyrical imagery. It’s a busy sound and not one that’s easy to get right live, but the sound is utterly flawless in the packed Crawdaddy : each daring twist and dazzling turn thrown into perfectly sharp relief. The frantic ‘Idiot Heart’ is an early highlight, driven by a tense glockenspiel riff and climaxing in a furious instrumental crescendo and desperate vocal refrain. Not that there’s any sign of a let-up anywhere in the set: with songs like the rousing, anthemic ‘The Taming of the Hands That Came Back To Life’, swelling ballad ‘Silver Moons’ or the grandstanding atmospherics of ‘You Go On Ahead’, it’s a tour de force of dramatic, high-concept art-rock.

The band are unassuming throughout, good-naturedly ribbing the crowd about the Lisbon treaty and encouraging people to take a cigarette break if they feel the band are overstaying their welcome. However, even going as far as the bar is too much of a liability when the action on stage is so compelling: ‘Black Swan’ mixes thrilling stop-start dynamics with sustained guitar-shredding, while the opening notes of ‘The Mending of the Gown’ provoke loud screams of glee, even if its breathless, mile-a-minute mid-section doesn’t come across quite so well live. You know it’s been a great gig when you’re reduced to such minor quibbling, however: given the way Arcade Fire conquered the mainstream with a very similar, high-stakes sound, it’s not too far-fetched to posit that the next time Sunset Rubdown come back to town, it’ll be in a far bigger venue.