Posts Tagged ‘ramblings’

Fast tracks #1: Ikonika

Posted: May 9, 2010 in music, Uncategorized
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Every so often a song can jump out and grab you by the backside, give you a little squeeze on your right cheek and make you feel like everything is going to be ok – this one from Sara Abdel-Hamid, A.K.A. Ikonika, is one such track.

It’s a bleeping chunk of dubstep with a nice bit of wobble that should be blared good and loud in preparation for our eight-minute summer, which is sure to show up soon, eh? Eh?

Naturally, Ikonika is on the Hyperdub label and her album Contact, Love, Want, Have was released last month.

Ikonika – Idiot

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Mistletoe and a whine

Posted: December 20, 2009 in me, Uncategorized
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May aswell nail my red & white colours to the mast here: I love Christmas. It’s just that time of year where things just seem to slow up – not in the shopping sense but…

My mother instilled the Christmas appreciation in me. At the moment, the house in Galway most likely has a million Xmas trinkets cluttering up the porch, snow everywhere, the annual decorations, the table centre piece, the CD playing. And it’s great. I only have the best memories of Christmas from my childhood. There are a few outstanding ones but the one that has stuck with me is cycling up and down our street at 5am on my brand new BMX with a plastic AK47 in my hand and my uncle shining a huge maglight on me so I could see where I was going and whom I was about to rip apart with my high-powered assault rifle. Memories..

But to make things straightforward, here’s a taster of the best (and worst) things about Xmas.

  • The wind-up at work. You can feel Xmas oozing into the office as the tinsel pops up all over the place, people who normally don’t smile begin to crack wee grins and workmates start asking when others are going home for the holidays/is the tree up/how much brandy in the morning is too much/why is everyone not wearing the elf costume to the office like they were told to/did you eat my sandwiches and so on.
  • Town is mental. Proper mental. Not just ‘oo-er what be going on here then?’ or a little crowded – there is a palpable sense of immense danger in every shop and on every street. The roof of TK Maxx has clearly been removed and a million people have been dropped into it to try and find the cheapest Ralph Lauren pyjama bottoms or Ted Baker socks. That Butler’s chocolate shop that does the hot choc drinks? It’s got a queue of people out the fucking door, like a soup kitchen in the Mission in San Francisco. Penney’s is a war-zone. Schuh? Don’t bother. The only options in town are to duck into a pub as soon as you arrive to ‘shop’ and start guzzling hooch. Actually guzzle it too; the drunker you are the better. And watch in horror as the barman ACTUALLY rolls his eyes when you ask for either a hot port or hot whiskey. You don’t like making them, do you not? Sorry to complicate your drink-making job by having you do something other than fill a pint glass with piss-poor imported beer or knock the lid of an Easter European beer for which you are charging me 5 euros and 80 fucking cents! You do know Budvar costs about 3 cent in Prague, yeah? Oh you don’t make the prices – you just serve the beer. Right. I will leave actually yes, because you sir are the rudest barman ever. Good day. I have worked in bars too, before anyone starts.
  • The presents. Christ. Here’s where the booze will lead you astray. You arrive home with a bag full of shit you kind of wanted for yourself and a bag of random crap you blearily snaffled in nick-nack shops in the hope that whoever they are for will come to you in a few days. Those dolly pegs will be great for Dad, won’t they? And those Santa musical socks? The dog can have them; he loves weird chimes and Santa’s red, glowing eyeballs…
  • The regimented approach your mother has to Xmas. The TV must not distract from family time when you arrive home. The Xmas placemats may be 20 years old but they are Xmas. The Xmas CD is on a loop. You end up feeling like a suspected terrorist stuck in a weird Guantanamo-style Xmas internment camp. You are awoken to the clatter of dishes every morning. Everything has that shiny Xmas glow which is great at night but looks weird in the morning. Your orange boiler suit is chafing and they’ve taken away your Qur’an. Dean Martin is on all the time. As is Cliff Richard.(I love all this really)
  • Secret Santa at work. Now this year a few of us are doing it. Firstly, a few are trying to guess who got who but crucially, not in a fun way. In a ‘I KNOW who you got’ way. Another would like it to remain a secret forever so he can buy the cheapest present possible. These people have told me this. They also read this blog on occasion and the great thing is, they can have no argument for their anti-Christmas attitudes. I’ll make them pay. Somehow. Where’s my AK47?
  • Catching up. Catching up while drunk. Being in Galway pubs I’m never in anymore because I’m not home much.
  • The 11am booze fog. What’s that? A Paddy and red lemonade at 11am? You scoundrel.
  • The Snooze (you know it)
  • The Poop (you don’t want to talk about it)
  • The weird hangover of 8 tonnes of food and a gallon of red wine. Not remembering what you and your mother were chatting about til 5am..
  • There’s  more but that’ll do for the moment.

Happy Xmas everyone.

Thanks to events in the real world, I have been seriously lacking in effort with regard to these pages. Interviews, busy days, weddings, funerals. It’s all been going down. I suppose all bloggers are constantly looking at life as ‘content’ for their little online diary and for those who blog specifically on music or film, this stuff can spew forth at regular intervals.

The problems begin when one is not exactly a blogger of anything specific but rather someone who blogs on random odds and ends. And then when it becomes clear that one cannot blog on certain things (i.e. ALOT of things) without ‘giving the game away’, people reading who probably shouldn’t know certain things, that kind of piffle….forgive my cryptic ramble please. And apologies for the self-referential claptrap and for apologising for not blogging in the first place which I know can grate…erk….

So enough. I am in love with Chickatees again. Ah yes, Chickatees. How many do you think you actually swallow when you pop open a bag? Fuck all, I’d wager. They’re all in your teeth. For the diet-crazy amongst you, perhaps this heralds a new form of food non-ingestion therapy. I mean, you don’t ingest Chickatees really.You’ll eat a bag in a minute or two and then pick them all out of your teeth. The key could be to resist the urge to swallow this congealed ball of mulchy Chickatee and plop it in the bin. However, this is more difficult than you think; it tastes bloody great.

AND you can buy them in monstrous bags of 30 or 40 for a few squid too. That, combined with Spar meatballs (amazing) and some Pot Noodles – sure you’re essentially a thrifty Gordon Ramsay producing instant classics upon demand. True your salt intake would probably rival that of a large, floating whale gulping down huge waves by the hour but anyhoo.

I’m also currently sporting a rather fetching ‘tache as you may or may not know. Tis for Movember (donate here) but I can’t see myself getting rid of this badboy too quickly. The amount of action I am getting down darkened alleyways on Camden Street is outrageous. I’m raking it in. The binmen are mad for a bit of ‘tache loving. And I love the feel of their cold black jackets, the smell of Carrolls on their breath…ahhh yes…binmen….

Been busy enough beavering away for a few online publications you are probably familiar with and incoming is State mag’s top 20 albums of the decade…or is it top 100…or is it best albums of the decade in no particular order but with a non-specified number cap…jesus. Anyway, I know I’ve left Smog/Bill Callahan off one of these reeeeally difficult lists and I am going to make it up to him by doing my next post about him and most likely about A River Ain’t Too Much To Love, I think.

Also, Christmas is coming and I fucking love Christmas so, to quote a great man, BABY I’M BACK. I think I’m feeling motivated by R’n’B super-lech, R.Kelly’s banging new single

Actually banging. And without the use of contraception it would seem. Shuddering yet?

grass widow

If the whole no-fi/lo-fi thing is a bit too ‘P4k‘ for you then look away now. I’m a big fan. All the bad recording, tinny sound, hard-to-decipher vocals and homemade t-shirts/album covers/everything makes me feel like I’m back in school listening to Bleach again.
There seems to be very few bands from the Captured Tracks/ Slumberland/ Fat Possum stables that are shit these days. Every second week, there’s some lo-fi gem on tour in Europe and, more often than not, Foggy Notions or Skinny Wolves get them upstairs in Whelan’s where they put on brief, wonderful shows and then sell their own t-shirts.We get this with our local bands so it’s great to get it from bands you may only have ever read about on myspace.

As contrived/trendy/uninteresting as some may decry this lo-fi scene as, I love being in a small venue with the band close enough to touch and having them stand beside you in the crowd to check out the support. I love the noisy melodies. I love the brevity. I love the ramshackle performances and the fact that many of them have never been to Europe before. I love the drums.

There’s a rawness to bands like Vivian Girls/Wavves/Times New Viking/Real Estate et al that remains undiluted by hype and combines the nostalgic chill of twee with the pelvic snarl of teenage.

It’s fast, fun and plentiful.

What’s to snipe at? Nowt, that’s what.

Curmudgeons begone.

So now, say hello to Grass Widow, made up of Lillian, Raven and Hannah. They bring you harmonies and fuzz.
Born from the remnants of Shitstorm (the band indie-chick du jour Frankie Rose left to join Vivian Girls, whom she subsequently left to join Crystal Stilts, whom she has now ditched to form Frankie and the Outs…), Grass Widow have a self-titled 12″ LP and a 12″ EP knocking around at the moment.
Have a peep at Captured Tracks for the EP and Make A Mess for the LP.
Here they are covering Black Hole by The Urinals, a major influence in the lo-fi scene.

Grass Widow – Black Hole

And here’s one from their self-titled album.

Grass Widow – To Where

Evolution: the proof is on the buses

Posted: July 7, 2008 in Uncategorized
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I used to have the unbridled joy of getting a nice bus to work in the mornings. It was a delightful journey, passing up George’s Street, through Camden Street, Terenure, Templeogue and the leafy ‘burbs. On a sunny day the birds would flock to the window and nuzzle up against them, poking chewy toffees through the window for the smiling passengers to nibble on. The driver would pat me gently on the behind as I swooshed past him to take my seat.
I no longer get that bus.
Thanks to moving house (admittedly my meals have improved considerably since I moved in with my expert chef girlfriend Sinead) I now must ride a darker beastie altogether. This is a bus that farts and belches its way through the ominously stinkier parts of Baile Atha Cliath. It’s grim grim grim all the way to my destination and often features the kind of Neanderthal, staring primates you are surely all too familiar with. These are the ones who are genetically predisposed to chatting to you if it’s just you and them upstairs. Earphones are a ‘please talk to me’ distress signal. They shift in their seats, looking into everyone’s po-faced fisogs, playing tinny techno from their phones and hoping you will say something/anything to them.
Christ it’s like school sometimes.
Today I got the gimp in the seat in front who turned fully around, on a packed bus, to eyeball myself and my seat mate. I played the ‘looking intently out the window’ game expertly. Usually these fiends jump off the bus as quickly as they have jumped on and invariably you see them running nimbly from the bus when they alight – there’s always some pressing engagement they’ve been yapping loudly about on their phones before disembarking.
Anyway, I shouldn’t bang on too much. Nothing has happened yet, but I could be just a stare away..
In other news, check out Christopher Hitchens getting waterboarded for a Vanity Fair piece. Disagree as I may with some of Hitchens’ political views, the man is a wonderfully intellectual writer with a scary knowledge of history and a formidable constitution for the sauce. I’m reading his ‘God is not Great’ book at the moment, hence the mention.
In Big Brother news, for a change, the blind guy is a nightmare. Like a creepy Billy Connolly with a lobotomy and disguised as a student from 1992.
Also, do not go see Kung Fu Panda. Peddling a message that obese fantasists can achieve anything they want if they only belieeeeeeeve strong enough? To kids? Blaaaarrrrggggg, give them Spongebob or Fairly Odd Parents over this, anyday of the week. That aside, it just ain’t funny or clever in the Toy Story/Monsters Inc kind of way.
And finally, check out the Oxegen previews – and indeed my own preview of the New Band Stage for the weekend – over at drop-d
Sorry for this splurge of a post. I’m sure there’s more to mention that I’ve left out. Here’s a bit of Denmark’s Trentemoller anyway. Get his Chronicles discs. Nice dab of glitchy, minimal techno.
Minimal Fox – Trentemoller

Read this today

The gist being that Polish Catholic priests are being chastised for plagiarising sermons of other priests, due to the younger generation of smock-wearing God-peddlers having access to t’internet where many sermons in this modern world end up.
Jaysus, isn’t it bad enough being a Catholic priest these days hah? There have been a few stories knocking around about them for a while you know?..
Now they can’t borrow a few thoughts and ruminations from the more experienced members of their ilk (thoughts and ruminations which have been stolen for many moons from the shitting bible!).
They panic on a Saturday night about having nowt to say on Sunday morning and they turn to the web for inspiration, like many students and professionals have been doing for quite some time.
Christ, at least they might find something decent to nick, mightn’t they?
Mass was bad enough in my youth, having to listen to some decaying old gin-skulling virgin lament the state of modern society and cloak his contempt for everyone (except God, naturally) in some deathly dreary parable from whatever chapter of the not-ironically-titled ‘Good Book’ he had drunkenly bookmarked the night before.
Maybe young priests, stealing from the internet, can make those who still go to mass actually feel like they are doing something constructive in church, by perusing a selection of online sermons from their elders and picking something relevant and comprehensible to a younger audience. These people go to church every week. At least reward their efforts by keeping things interesting.
Jesus wept.

Sebadohmynostalgiabuttonhasbeenpressed

Posted: April 24, 2008 in Uncategorized
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It seems that most of the bands I go to see live these days are starting out and plugging a debut album while establishing a new army of fans – thanks to the ridiculously fast buzz-building that goes on on the interweb – as opposed to playing to a crowd familiar with a vast canon of work.
Sebadoh last night in Whelans though was a different kind of animal altogether.
It’s strange because you are watching guys in their forties who were around and participating actively in a scene that is very dear to my teen years – grunge.
Lou Barlow in particular has seen it all, in Dinosaur Jr aswell as in Sebadoh, and it was funny to watch a band of their pedigree tune their guitars between songs (because they had no tech to do it), swapping instruments with ease (because they are around long enough to have considerable practice on everything), and having those ‘just out on tour’ awkward moments where applause makes them grin and they try to crack jokes and sell a few t-shirts. I never got to see Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden or alot of the bands whose songs I would probably recognise from the opening note, even if they’re from albums I have not listened to in many many years. Seeing Sebadoh definitely pulled at my musical heartstrings because so many of their songs have that Black Flag early 80s punk thing, crossed with that 90s grunge minor chord guitar crunch.
Will the younger new bands have the legs of some of these acts. Will they be part of a new scene that will change music? I’m not talking about the kind of all-encompassing fame and adulation of the Rolling Stones, but the steady fanbase that will want to see them in 15 or 20 years.This is a great time for new bands and new music as we are exposed every day to SO much stuff we may not have heard of the day before. But Sebadoh reminded me of the time I was given a tape with Therapy on one side and Rage Against The Machine on the other, of copying my cousin’s Nevermind CD he had gotten for free because he worked in Dolphin Discs, of hearing the Jesus Lizard and Lard, of listening to NOFX for years without knowing what they looked like because…well, there was nowhere to get a picture.
The gig itself last night was excellent. And nostalgic…if I haven’t made that clear. My thanks to Sebadoh.