Monday, January 25, 2010
Don't let their crazy website-design scare you, because Sub Pop are giving away a free sampler featuring acts like Beach House, The Ruby Suns, Dum Dum Girls and Retribution Gospel Choir. To download it go here, and don't worry, it's not riddled with viruses, much as it may appear it is:
Ganglians are easily one of this blog's favourite bands of the last year: combining the lo-fi garage-friendly sound associated with many of their Woodsist labelmates with a pastoral vibe that's not a far remove from Fleet Foxes, the two records they released in 2009 - Ganglians and Monster Head Room - were compelling affairs. They'll be playing a gig upstairs in Whelan's on May 21st, a week before they join the Primavera Sound 10th anniversary celebrations.
Before that comes the visit of Brooklyn-based experimentalists High Places, who'll also play upstairs in the same venue on the 5th of May. They've released a new track from their forthcoming album as a free download, link from Pitchfork:
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Many Low fans would agree that 'Murderer', from 2007's Drums and Guns, is one of their most frighteningly intense songs, and this version - recorded for 89.3 The Current, is even more breathtaking than the album version.
Fresh from last year's outstanding collaboration with Burial, Kieran Hebden - aka Four Tet - will release much anticipated new album There Is Love In You on January 25th. He's made it available to listen to right now, however, on SoundCloud:
The record sounds absolutely fantastic on first listen - in fact, I can't remember being so impressed with an album on first listen. Which makes me wonder whether that's a good or a bad thing. Anyway, judge for yourself.
Also, if you haven't checked out his 'Much Love to the Plastic People' mix, then do so pronto...
Monday, January 18, 2010
One of the most promising Irish bands around at present, The Ambience Affair's new EP, Patterns, is now available to purchase from Road Records. It's the follow-up to last year's well-received Fragile Things EP. Below is one of the tracks from the EP, 'Devil in the Detail', a tense, driving slice of alt-rock, while also included on the EP is the equally impressive 'Lost at the Start', which starts off with a dreamy vocal loop and a cyclical instrumental pattern, building steadily towards a multilayered climax. Both tracks can be heard on their MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/theambienceaffair
The Ambience Affair are currently touring, and worth checking out:
20 Jan - Dolans Upstairs w / Puzzle Muteson & Windings Limerick
21 Jan - NUI Galway (Afternoon Show) Galway
21 Jan - Rosin Dubh Upstairs w/ Puzzle Muteson Galway
22 Jan - The Spirit Store w / Puzzle Muteson & O Emperor Dundalk
23 Jan - Road Records In-Store Fade St, Dublin
23 Jan - Whelans w / Puzzle Muteson & We Cut Corners Dublin
24 Jan - Crane Lane Theatre w / Puzzle Muteson Cork
The EP can be purchased here: http://www.roadrecs.com/stock/shopping.php3?start=1&action=4&artist=AMBIENCE%20AFFAIR
'Devil in the Detail' MP3:
Many musicians have spoken out in recent days in an effort to raise awareness of the tragic on-going emergency in Haiti, but the words of Arcade Fire's Regine Chassagne carry an extra resonance: her family emigrated from Haiti during the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier. Published in yesterday's Guardian/Observer (?), here's the text:
"Somewhere in my heart, it's the end of the world.
These days, nothing is funny. I am mourning people I know. People I don't know. People who are still trapped under rubble and won't be rescued in time. I can't help it.
Everybody I talk to says the same thing: time has stopped.
Simultaneously, time is at work. Sneakily passing through the cracks, taking the lives of survivors away, one by one.
Diaspora overloads the satellites. Calling families, friends of families, family friends. Did you know about George et Mireille? Have you heard about Alix, Michaelle etc, etc? But I know that my personal anguish is small compared to the overwhelming reality of what is going on down there.
When it happened I was at home in Montreal, safe and cosy, surfing the internet, half randomly, like millions of westerners. Breaking news: 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti near Port-au-Prince.
Such emotion came over me. My breath stopped. My heart sank and went straight into panic mode. I knew right away that the whole city is in no way built to resist this kind of assault and that this meant that thousands were under rubble. I saw it straight away.
I ran downstairs and turned on the television. It was true. Tears came rushing right to my eyes and I let out a cry, as if I had just heard that everybody I love had died. The reality, unfortunately, is much worse. Although everything around me is peaceful, I have been in an internal state of emergency for days. My house is quiet, but I forget to eat (food is tasteless). I forget to sleep. I'm on the phone, on email, non-stop. I'm nearly not moving, but my pulse is still fast. I forget who I talked to and who I told what. I leave the house without my bag, my keys. I cannot rest.
I grew up with parents who escaped during the brutal years of the Papa Doc regime. My grandfather was taken by the Tonton Macoutes and it was 10 years before my father finally learnt he had been killed. My mother and her sister returned home from the market to find their cousins and friends murdered. She found herself on her knees in front of the Dominican embassy begging for her life in broken Spanish. Growing up, I absorbed those stories, heard a new version every year; adults around the dinner table speaking in creole about poor Haiti.
When I was growing up, we never had the money to return. Even if we had, my mother never could go back. Until she died, she would have nightmares about people coming to "take her away". My mum passed away before she could meet my future husband, or see our band perform and start to have success, and though I have dreamed of her dancing to my music, I know she would have been very worried to hear that I was travelling to Haiti for the first time last year.
It is strange that I was introduced to my country by a white doctor from Florida called Paul Farmer who speaks perfect Creole and knows how to pronounce my name right. He is the co-founder of an organisation titled Partners in Health (Zanmi Lasante in Creole). There are several charity organisations that are doing good work in Haiti – Fonkoze is a great micro-lending organisation – but in terms of thorough medical care, follow-up and combining of parallel necessary services (education, sanitation, training, water, agriculture), there is none that I could recommend more than Partners in Health. It takes its work for the Haitian people very seriously and, indeed, most of the staff on the ground are Haitian. PIH has been serving the poorest of the poor for more than 20 years with a curriculum that really astounded me, given the limited resources available in the area.
Visiting its facilities, I was overwhelmed by, and impressed with, the high-level, top-quality services provided in areas where people own next to nothing and were never given the opportunity to learn how to sign their own name. I was delightfully shocked to see the radically positive impact it has had in the communities it serves. Of course, during my visit, I saw some clinics and hospitals that were at different stages than others, but through it all, I could clearly see that PIH staff are very resourceful and set the bar extremely high for themselves. I know that, right now, they are using their full capacities to save as many lives as possible.
So in these critical times where death comes every minute, I urge you to donate to Partners in Health (www.pih.org) and be as generous as you can. I know from having talked to some staff that they are on the ground right now, setting up and managing field hospitals as well as receiving the injured at their clinics in the surrounding areas.
I realise that by the time you read this it will be Sunday. The cries will have died out and few miracles will remain possible. But the suffering survivors should not be abandoned and should be treated with the best care countries like ours can offer.
Many Haitians expect to be let down. History shows they are right to feel that way. Haitians know that they have been wronged many, many times. What we are seeing on the news right now is more than a natural disaster. This earthquake has torn away the veil and revealed the crushing poverty that has been allowed by the west's centuries of disregard. That we must respond with a substantial emergency effort is beyond argument, but in the aftermath, Haiti must be rebuilt.
Ultimately, we need to treat Haiti with compassion and respect and make sure that the country gets back on its feet once and for all. Haiti's independence from France more than two centuries ago should be thought of as one of the most remarkable tales of freedom; instead, she was brought to her knees by the French and forced to pay a debt for the value of the lost colony (including the value of the slaves: the equivalent of $21bn by current calculations). We cannot overestimate the strength and resilience of the brave people living in this country whose ancestors had to buy their own bodies back.
The west has funded truly corrupt governments in the past.
Right now, in Haiti, there is a democratically elected government.
Impossibly weak, but standing.
This is the moment where we need to show our best support and solidarity.
Since Haiti shook and crumbled, I feel as if something has collapsed over my head, too. Miles away, somehow, I'm trapped in this nightmare. My heart is crushed. I've been thinking about nothing else.
Time has stopped – but time is of the essence.
So I've been sitting here at my computer, food in the fridge, hot water in the tap, a nice comfy bed waiting for me at some point… but…
Somewhere in my heart, it's the end of the world."
The article can be found here:
Concern Worldwide is accepting donations towards aid and relief on 1850-410510 or through Concern.net.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
"Jay was what few people have the capacity to be. He created an undeniably classic album that contained so much pain transferred to tape in such an explosive way that it made you feel different after hearing it. He was transgressive and honest. His flaws were something he focused on and overdubbed and distorted until they made you forget who he really was-- a person with feelings and a good heart. He loved music and worked hard from a young age to pursue it. He was a self-made and unmade man. I am truly sickened to see him go."
- Bradford Cox, Deerhunter
a video recording of his final gig, supporting Spoon on New Year's Eve (thanks to Pitchfork):
Much like the Mercury Prize across the sea, the annual announcement of the shortlist for the Choice Music Prize can always be relied upon to instigate a full-on mud-slinging debate, and this year is no different - just get a load of Jim Carroll's blog-post and the accompanying comments, including a lengthy one from a certain David Kitt: http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/ontherecord/2010/01/13/its-the-one-you-have-been-waiting-for-the-choice-music-prize-shortlist/ . The shortlist of albums is as follows:
And So I Watch You From Afar - “And So I Watch You From Afar” (Smalltown America)
Bell X1 - “Blue Lights On The Runway” (BellyUp)
CODES - “Trees Dream in Algebra” (EMI)
Adrian Crowley - “Season of the Sparks” (Chemikal Underground)
Dark Room Notes - “We Love You Dark Matter” (Gonzo)
The Duckworth Lewis Method - “The Duckworth Lewis Method” (1969/Divine Comedy Records)
Julie Feeney - “Pages” (Mittens)
Valerie Francis - “Slow Dynamo” (VF)
Laura Izibor - “Let The Truth Be Told” (Atlantic)
The Swell Season - “Strict Joy” (Plateau)
One thing i will say about these awards is that the stated objective - 'to select the album which best sums up the year in Irish music' - is still maddeningly vague and somewhat meaningless, considering the range of different albums released each year: how does any individual album 'sum up' the wider domestic scene? Sounds like complete gibberish to me. Anyway, artists that can feel aggrieved to be left out include Patrick Kelleher, Hunter-Gatherer and Holy Roman Army. As for the winner, this blog wouldn't mind seeing either And So I Watch You From Afar or CODES taking home the prize.
From On The Record: "The live event will take place in Vicar Street, Dublin on Wednesday March 3 and will feature performances from as many of the acts who can play on the night as possible (we’ll be announcing the full details in the next few weeks). Tickets, priced €27 euro including booking fees, go on sale on Monday next."
A host of new additions have been announced for May's Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona. Perhaps the biggest curveball of all is the inclusion of Shellac, who've only played every single ATP and Primavera festival for the last 5 or so years. Seriously, isn't anyone getting sick of them by now? But never mind that, for the inclusions are pretty exciting:
The Big Pink
The Psychic Paramount
The full line-up so far:
Pixies, Pavement, Wilco, Orbital, Superchunk, The Fall, Camarón - La Leyenda Del Tiempo, 30 Años Después (Duquende, Chicuelo, among others), Lee "Scratch" Perry, Panda Bear, Low performing "The Great Destroyer", Shellac, The XX, Wire, Liquid Liquid, The New Pornographers, No Age, Mission Of Burma, Yeasayer, Hope Sandoval And The Warm Inventions, The Clean, Spoon, Wild Beasts, Fuck Buttons, The Bloody Beetroots, Atlas Sound, Polvo, Standstill, Bis, Cold Cave, Dr. Dog, Real Estate, Delorean, HEALTH, Ganglians, The Antlers, Circulatory System, The Big Pink, Japandroids, Joker featuring Nomad, The King Khan & Bbq Show, Ui, Dum Dum Girls, Here We Go Magic, Sic Alps, The Psychic Paramount.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Foggy Notions have announced that the artist formerly known as Final Fantasy, Owen Pallett, will be playing a show in Whelan's this 18th March. Pallett's third album, Heartland, will be released next week and has been garnering rave review from those lucky enough to have heard it already.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
As spotted by a reader on Jim Carroll's On The Record blog, Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox from Animal Collective) will be playing a date at Dublin's Vicar Street, March 12th. Fantastic news. Details here: http://www.paw-tracks.com/tour.html
Ticket details to follow.
To coincide with the re-union of indie legends Pavement, a 23-track 'Greatest Hits'-style compilation, Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement, will be released on 8th March (9th March US). To make the release even more interesting, they've held back on the track-listing, and instead fans are being invited to guess what said track-listing will be. The potential prizes up for grabs are very nice indeed. From the Matador Records website:
"We are holding a Guess The Track Listing Contest. The album contains 23 tracks, all previously released, and the first track is “Gold Soundz”. Prizes will be awarded as follows:
FIRST PRIZE for the track listing closest to the actual track listing
SECOND PRIZE for the most imaginative track listing
FOUR RUNNERS-UP in either of the above two categories (4 runner-up prizes total)
First prize will be a pair of tickets, with flights and hotel rooms, to see Pavement at Central Park Summerstage on Tuesday, September 21, 2009 2010. Plus a complete set of Pavement Matador 12″ vinyl.
Second prize will be having your track listing pressed up in a special limited-edition vinyl double LP for Record Store Day (April 17). You will receive 5 copies of your best of selection. Plus a complete set of Pavement Matador 12″ vinyl.
Runner-up prizes will be complete sets of Pavement Matador 12″ vinyl."
You can make your guess at http://www.matadorrecords.com/matablog/2010/01/05/pavement-quarantine-the-past/
Matador point out that although the compilation won't feature any unreleased material, it 'definitely digs deeper than the hits'.
In other Pavement news, the next installment in their excellent series of re-issues, Terror Twilight, will be released in the fall, while Matador will be re-releasing their entire Pavement catalogue on cut-price vinyl on the same day that Quarantine the Past is released.
You can always expect the unexpected from Swedish electronic duo The Knife, and their forthcoming album certainly sounds like an interesting project. A collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock, the record is a studio version of the opera 'Tomorrow, In a Year'. From the official website:
"Commissioned by Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma to write the music for their opera based on Charles Darwin and his book ‘On the Origin of the Species’, The Knife decided to make this a collaborative process, working with artists Mt. Sims and Planningtorock for the first time, to capture the huge width of the Darwin and evolution theme. They extensively researched Darwin related literature and articles, with Olof attending a field recording workshop in the Amazon to find inspiration and to record sounds.
‘Tomorrow, In A Year’ is a unique musical project. Richard Dawkins’s gene trees have formed the basis of some of the musical composition, artificial sounds have been mixed with field recordings, with the music inspired by everything from the different stages of a bird learning its melody, to a song based on Darwin’s loving letters about his daughter Anne. These are compositions that challenge the conventional conception of opera music.
...Olof Dreijer says: “At first it was very difficult as we really didn’t know anything about opera. We’d never been to one. I didn’t even know what the word libretto meant. But after some studying, and just getting used to opera’s essence of pretentious and dramatic gestures, I found that there is a lot to learn and play with. In fact, our ignorance gave us a positive respectless approach to making opera. It took me about a year to become emotionally moved by an opera singer and now I really do. I really like the basic theatrical values of opera and the easy way it brings forward a narrative. We’ve approached this before in The Knife but never in such a clear way.”"
Tomorrow, In A Year will be released March 1st 2010, but for now they've made a track ('Colouring of Pigeons') available as a free download. Just got to http://theknife.net/tommorow-in-a-year-information.html, enter your e-mail address and hey-ho. One listen so far and I'm impressed.
It's set to be released next week, but you can listen to Vampire Weekend's second album Contra right now - it's streaming on their MySpace. Fingers crossed for an Irish gig - they're touring the UK in February.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
If you were left a little disappointed by eels' 2009 release Hombre Lobo, it mightn't be time to write off Mark 'E' Everett just yet: on January 19th, another album will follow hot on its heels, and by the sound of things it's more in keeping with the agonisingly direct, soul-baring songwriting that led to classics like Electro-Shock Blues and Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. E has a habit of writing music for separate projects simultaneously, and it may well be that Hombre Lobo was to the forthcoming album what records like Souljacker and Shootenanny! were to his ambitious Blinking Lights double-set: loose, rocky diversions from the thematic structures that characterise his more intense work.
Apparently this album is so personal that E is refusing to do interviews to promote it. From eels' official website:
" The eighth EELS studio album, END TIMES, is the sound of an artist growing older in uncertain times. An artist who has lost his great love while struggling with his faith in an increasingly hostile world teetering on self-destruction. Largely self-recorded on an old four track tape machine by EELS leader Mark Oliver Everett aka E in his Los Angeles basement, it's a "divorce album" with a modern twist: the artist equates his personal loss with the world he lives in losing its integrity. When Everett finds comfort "in a dying world," the END TIMES he speaks of isn't about "Mayan calendar conspiracy theory bullshit," he says, but, "the state of the desperate times we live in. The bottom line-ness of it all. The end of common decency. The loss of caring about doing a good job. These are tough times. Who can you trust? Walter Cronkite is just a ghost."
...While the last EELS album, HOMBRE LOBO tackled the subject of desire, "the before, the spark that ignites everything," Everett says, END TIMES is about the other side: the after. And while HOMBRE LOBO was written from the point of view of a fictional character, END TIMES is pure real life. "
"In my younger days
I would've just chalked it up
As part of my ongoing education
But I've had enough
Been through some stuff
And I don't need any more misery
To teach me what I should be
I just need you back"
- 'In My Younger Days'
Now when you bear in mind that eels' 1998 album Electro-Shock Blues dealt with the loss of Everett's sister to suicide and his mother's terminal illness in harrowing detail, it's a pretty safe bet that a break-up album from the same man probably isn't going to be the feel-good release of 2010.
The track 'Little Bird' is available as a free download from eels' official website:
...and here's the video for 'In My Younger Days':
According to http://wolfparade.nonstuff.com/, and picked up by Ian at http://thrillpier.blogspot.com/, Wolf Parade will be playing Vicar Street on May 20th.
The Montreal-based band have recently started recording material for their third album.