I am emerging like a wet, pink baby slithered from a womb, from the washy-drek of writing about Derrida, reading about Derrida and seizing in my sleep, to break my own rule and talk about a record that has absolutely no correlation to the Irish Music Scene whatsoever. I’ll leave it to whatever sort of beast reads this blog to flagellate, while inside my head the supposed epileptic tosses the furniture to David Koresh Superstar, the third and most ambitious album by Sussex band, The Indelicates.
I have had an obsession with cults since I was 15 years old and Mike Guard – a crumpled mole of a man hired by the governments of the UK and Ireland to assist in extracting people from the grasps of authoritarian religious sects – visited our school to blow about seven minds with his stories of kids JUST LIKE US who got caught up with the “wrong side of religion”. I won’t make this an essay on the ironies of bland and uniformed convent girls being lectured on the dangers of fundamentalism, because that would be too easy and not very interesting. Guard, however, was fascinating to those of us willing to stay awake through his white board experiments and strangely evocative discussions on how, yes, people will believe anything you tell them with enough conviction. Unlike the masses of vagina cladden teenagers with pierced tongues hanging spongy from their mouths, I was ripe for this and spent the next few months reading about Sharon Tate’s split belly, Kool-Aid spiked with cyanide and David Berg’s massive beard (actually massive).
One name that, interestingly, I didn’t come across until recently was David Koresh, dyslexic Texan and Branch Davidan sect leader that believed himself to be the prohpet and the man at the centre of a fifty one day siege at Waco, Texas. The attack on Koresh’s camp ended on April 19th, 1993 with the FBI broadcasting the elliptical, “David, you have had your fifteen minutes of fame… Vernon is no longer the messiah.” and the proceeding gas-aided gunfire that raged and killed the remaining Mount Carmel occupants at Waco, pissing all over agent Byron Sage’s promise that “this is not an assault […] we do not want to hurt anyone.” Seventy six people died in total over the course of 51 days, including sixteen children under 5, two pregnant woman and of course, Koresh, himself.
And that is the tiniest history for the massive backdrop that makes up ‘David Koresh Superstar‘, the Webberian concept record, which is, as well as history, crammed with crushing ballads (“The Woman Clothed with the Sun” and “Superstar” being those that draw most blood), theatrical and frenzied choruses and the almost lunacied conviction of Simon’s Koresh. The record also closes with a gospelly, call and response cover of “John the Revelator”, a perfect accidental for a record that rages and sooths in equal measures.
I think the thing that made me so obsessive about cults, in retrospect, was not the carnage or any degree of interest in the things these people actually believed, but rather the phenomenon that Mike Guard had told me at 15 and had with soft vowels and a slight midlandy lisp convinced me of; That these kids were just like me and that people would, and some needed to believe anything you tell them, with enough conviction. And almost every song on this album is, in that context, heart-breaking. There’s no smugness or overbearing irony, just really sad music about people who had really sad lives. Bad people, in some cases if you believe in that sort of thing, good people in others, but on a whole, pretty damaged people who lived damaged lives and were ultimately damaged by their tragic deaths. There’s a fuck bucket of politics too, and I could make BLANKET STATEMENTS about the policies of salty-bastard-Bill-Clinton, but I’m trying this thing where I don’t metamorphose into Bill Hicks at the drop of a topical conversation.
Anyway, the point of this post is that this is a delightful record. Once again I’ve failed to actually provide any critical information about how the violins are mad lovely and the vocals are, characteristically, mad lovely and how basses and drums do things I could never hope to understand so will not attempt to write about, ever. But I will do something of use now and tell you where you can get your hands on David Koresh Superstar, convinced as I’m sure you are, that it is the right thing to do. You know, fundamentally.
I had a conversation with my roommates and other collected conservatory friends, the other day about what our very favourite things in the world are. It’s a difficult question, because although its easy to roll mundanities like “the smell of laundry” and in one strange case “Ian Wright”, off the tongue, when you absolutely have to be singular – or as much as you have to be in anything rhetorical you’ve just preceeded with the “in my pants” game – we had a tendency to stop and stare. I’ve actually spent quite a bit of time thinking on the subject. If there was one thing in the world – and I use the word ‘thing’ liberally – that I could say made me happier than anything else… what would it be? A part of me wants to choose a person. Because it’s a nice thought that your friends and family can make you feel like a more complete hunk of flesh. And it’s true, they do. But if we were looking at consistency – because people have the capabilities to also turn your world to ash – I think the thing that makes me happier than anything else is free music.
FREE MUSIC. Let me sing it to the heavens! Music, which in itself seems to have a singular ability to level my moods, suddenly appearing at my earbuds without so much as a dime lifted from my none-too-weighty purse. And I’ve said it before, this feeling of universal ill-balance, the see-saw of soaring into the air when there’s no chubby counterpart to weigh you down, might just be the best thing in the world.
Which leads me ineloquently into sharing something wondrous with you, something so wondrous that it may just turn this day of sobbing singles, chocolate overdoses and rewound video tapes – that’s right, video tapes – of Colin Firth getting out of a lake as we squint, hands in pants, trying to decide if that is the contour of a nipple, or if our willful but weighty hearts are condescending us into thinking we’re getting more than a sapping white shirt, into something entirely more bearable. And that thing is free music, in the form of a wonderful soundtrack to the original Irish film by Ian Lawton, The Other Marty.
So the film itself, starring Tommy O’Leary and Steve Wilson, is a chilly piece directed and written by former Omelette Ian Lawton set for release later this Spring . And as though it wasn’t enough to actually get some decent independent cinema coming from this country, the soundtrack, primarily featuring the work of Lawton himself as The Video Nasty, is being offered as a free download on Bandcamp from the 14th of February. As well as the beautifully eerie soundscapes written specifically for the film, the album also features two songs from the incomparable Large Mound, including the mighty “We’d Love to stay we’d play for Free” which I have been playing over and over and over and over, and some excellent re-mixes from the likes of the Mounds Anthony Mackey, Lmd64 and Colin J Morris.
Preview the album here and then go download it (FOR FREE! FREE MUSIC!) on Bandcamp
If you want to get your hands on a physical copy – I know I do – then go along to the premiere screening of the film on March 17th at the Underground Cinema showing at The Kingston Hotel, Dun Laoghaire. Tickets cost a mere fiver and the show starts at 7.30. A decent way to spend St. Patrick’s Day that does not involve drawing on your face in permanent marker and/or scooping up handfuls of sick from the pungent pool of your own lap.
And before I return to the vicious cycle of the rewind/squint and sitting on my hand until its numb enough for me to think that someone else might have their hand down my pants, it is with similar feelings of excitement, admiration and anticipation that I announce something that I meant to announce a long time ago, but haven’t until their featuring place on “The Other Marty” OST catapulted it back into my mind. And that is the absolutely wonderful new album project from Large Mound.
OK, so this is how it works. Every month, on the 25th of every month you can log on to the Large Mound Bandcamp and download a single track from the 12 piece album. Come December with the final track, we then culminate Another Year of Rock. Get it? Genius, right? Janurary’s song “Cremate Me” has obviously already gone live, and I’m pretty stoked to see the next track up on the 25th of this month. Keep an eye on the project, its an extremely exciting way to do things, and particularly from such a hard-working and dependable band.
I have simply not featured enough Hip-Hop on this site. And saying that in its simple frankness is a rather large short sight (there is a paradox in there somewhere), because I have not actually featured any Hip-Hop on Just Like A Drummer. I don’t think it would be fair at all to say that this gaping hole like gap in what was designed to be a blog of “the eclectic”, is down to a sheer lack of material. I would be more likely to blame it on my fear of talking about anything Hip-Hop. It’s something I’ve been working on and something that has only developed in the last year or so when I actually started putting serious listening time into the genre. What I would once have described as my musical Achilles heal – which I would now lump onto Metal, shudder – I would now describe as a facet of music that gives me more joy than almost any other. I like the fact that I have so little baggage, dialogue, rhetoric (hence the talking about Hip-Hop anxiety) and basic understanding of what makes this music tick. I enjoy that feeling of delving my hand into a dark box, not knowing what is inside the cardboard, and not fearing my inability to narrate what I cannot see, but feel instead. Though I suppose there is fear, because I have as of yet chosen not to talk about it.
My friend Richard (Howard, one half of the glorious Deep Burial) has been working with me on this, although I think he would see the venture less in the psychotherapeutic light, and more in the vein of giving a girl musical recommendations and putting up with her childlike naivety of what each individual song means in the greater scheme of things. It begun as a genuine attraction to the work of Eazy-E. Despite the expectation that I would probably enjoy the foggier end of rap due possibly to my reputation amongst friends as a “bit of a goth” – Important distinction must be made between the “lunar goth” usually connoted by the word, and this altogether singular definition which pertains to finding beauty in the mundane and which I’m not sure wasn’t just a synonym for ‘hipster’ – it seemed I was destined to embrace the cheesier end. Upon listening to the first mix Richard made me, ingeniously titled “The Mad Rapper in the Attic – Gothic Hiphop from the vaults” with my best friend Niamh over cereal, I was shocked. Mostly at how vastly against the grain of my expectations it was, but also at how much I liked it. Niamh on the other hand hilariously asked “Why is that man so angry?“. To be fair, it was Gravediggaz, “Diary of a Mad Man”.
From there flourished an interest that is now flirting with obsession but one that is still so infant that I’m too embarrassed to even talk about it. Because it seems such an insular genre. I think most are, when you look at them from an alien perspective, but hip-hop has always been one for me that I never quite thought I would penetrate. You can’t bullshit hip-hop like you can most other things. It’s a language, you know. And its so highly technical, and I have always been more of an appreciator of “I like it just cause, like, y’know, I can’t explain it” type criticism. I just genuinely don’t know how its all put together. I’m starting to see that less as a failing, now, and more as a bonus. Because although there is something to be had from the admiration and genuine appreciation of listening to something and seeing how it stitches onto itself, mapping it with your ears and knowing exactly how much blood and sweat and unadulterated talent went in to each individual decision on the record, there is also something pretty amazing about listening to a song for the first time and just going “wow”. Wow. I have no idea how they did that. It’s uncanny, and its pretty blissful.
And this is all a round about way of saying that I don’t care anymore, I’m going to talk about Hip-Hop. And I’m going to start with SertOne and his delicious debut EP, The View From Above released on Melted Music this February.
SertOne is an instrumental electronic artist from Portadown, Armagh and this seven track EP is the best thing I’ve heard in ages. Really. It’s maddeningly toe-tapping, different from anything I’ve heard, particularly in this country. It’s definitely kind of Dillaish, but hell, has that ever been a bad thing! Stand-out track for me would be “Past, Present, Future” (which features the most ridiculously cool and creative samples I have ever heard) and the psychotically beautiful interlude “8mm” which sits in the middle of the record like the pips in an apple. The whole EP is hugely dynamic though and doesn’t lag at any point, but sort of stutters along with wonderful assurance. It’s kind of perfection, to be honest; all dark and maddening, like the sound of your brain slowly unravelling.
The record will be out following an EP launch on February 25th at Morrisson’s in Belfast, at which point you can get your hands on one of the limited edition (run of 100) cd, hand-packaged by SertOne himself. Pretty damn rad. CD also comes with three bonus remixes, so extra incentive to part with your dollars. Also worth noting that this is Melted Music’s first release as a label and they are looking to be one to watch. Fucking exciting.
For your pleasure,
Big Monster Love is one man on a mission to make “music that sounds more like his life”. I like this concept. I like the fact that, although I don’t really make water slides in my garden or invite strippers to my house – see, that’s what I’m missing out on? I mean, really, how cool would that be? – it sounds a bit like my life too. Colloquial would be one way to put it, but I prefer to call it familiar in the oddest way possible. And I guess that’s an ineloquent definition of this Anti-Folk rhapsodist, on a whole.
Hailing from ‘Shitsville’, Dublin – a fondness that is evident in his music – Big Monster Love, under various guises, seems to have been making local music for longer than I have been appreciating it. With an eloquence that can only be described as elegiac, what makes Big Monster Love quite wonderful is his ability to show as much love for the place that clearly shapes his music, as he does distaste. Listening to his songs, thus far scattered across EPs and demos, is like having a laugh at yourself, but sort of seeing how great you are, all the same. I like that a lot. It’s a beautiful quality to have.
So having said that, I’m delighted and effervescently excited to be writing about the first big album of 2011; to announce that Big Monster Love’s debut ’Game Over’ will be released on the prolific Popical Island label and Abomination Records this February 4th. And for those who cannot sate their appetite with this nugget of knowledge alone, we also have a wonderful preview with the first track to be released from this much-anticipated colouring book of music, “Free Gaff Forever”.
So, how happy does this song make me? Well, the answer to that is very happy. It feels like summer, which is great, because winter is starting to get on my rag.
Keep your eyes glued to the Popical Island tumblr for more info.
So, so happy to be a part of the participating blogs for this years Digital Sockets Awards, to be held in the Grand Social on Feburary 3rd. Keep your eyes on the website for more information re: tickets and head liners, there are going to be some amazing bands not to be missed.
In the meantime, feast your eyes on this whopper of a shortlist.
1. Best Design (Website, Artwork, Posters)
Adebisi Shank – This is the Second Album
Cathy Davey – The Nameless
Halves – It Goes, It Goes (Forever and Ever)
O Emperor – Hither Thither
Villagers – Becoming a Jackal
6. Best Pop
Cathy Davey – The Nameless
The Divine Comedy – Bang Goes the Knighthood
Fight Like Apes – The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner
So Cow – Meaningless Friendly
Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
I am not usually known for my boundless optimism, but I have to say that 2010 was an absolutely excellent year for Irish music, all things considered. As I have been dreadful at updating this blog (a resolution for 2010 which began in the summer and died its death, too, in the summer) and have resolved to be better in 2011, I thought I would begin with a retrospective in what this year has to live up to; my top 6 Irish albums/EPs of the year . I have smushed albums and EPs into one list with little recognition of the vital differences between the two, mainly because the two EPs featured may be my absolute favourite things released this year and I couldn’t bear not to have both.
Angkorwat – The Early EP
If there’s anything I love more than free music, its free music that is the kind of music you would probably spend a good deal of money on but are otherwise due to an alarming string of circumstances or inscrutable altruism, getting for free. You come away feeling as though you are one up on the world. And this EP, a collection of scattered wonders by the prodigiously talented Niamh Corcoran- aka girlcrush for 2011 – is about as excellent as they come. It’s energetic, hypnotic and at times a little creepy, as though pushing you to the edge but refusing to let you jump over. I want to jump over. (Bandcamp)
This was perhaps my most anticipated record of the year, and I was delighted to find that in the face of burgeoning expectations that fizzed like the explosion of milk under tea, it did not disappoint me. Quite the contrary in fact, I can safely say that with this intelligent and harmoniously strung together piece of pop tartlett, my appetite was appropriately whetted and exceeded. I also realise that this is not the first time I have gushed about a Popical Island band using the laborious metaphor of the culinary, so I shall attempt to provide you with more appropriate words for ‘Marriage’, a symphony in ten. Exciting is one. And congruent is another. (Bandcamp)
You know, I think it’s possible that Sacred Animals count as the band I have spent the most time talking about, writing about and listening to over the past few months. I have already gushed as much as a human can gush about how much I adore this EP, but never one to bow from what I know must and should be done, I feel reiteration is necessary. This EP is simply wonderful and absolutely helped drag me through some tough months of relocation, relocation, relocation. As inclined towards masochism as I am, its a nice album to miss home to. I am setting down the gauntlet now and declaring Sacred Animals the one to watch this eleven. (Bandcamp)
Again, I have to wonder what it takes for a band to offer to the world the fruit of their loins and sweat for nothing. It’s perhaps that I am simply not as good a person as these four self proclaimed ‘robot rockers’, but I think if I were capable of creating something as amazing as ‘Chariot’ I would not hesitate in making a buck or two. At least to cover the costs! But no, I will not linger on the thought. I don’t know quite when it happened, but The Cast of Cheers seemed to invade my favoured hovels of the internet quite overnight. Friends were posting about them on facebook, blogs singing their praises, and being the cynic I am I took a while to bite. But when I bit oh… and again, I resist the urge to eat my feelings on the matter – Note to self, do not compose list on empty stomach next year. Extra note to self, take note of onset of boundless optimism in previous statement thus fulfilling other resolution of 2011. Final note to self, Score. But anyway, The Cast of Cheers. I am very excited to see what happens with this band next year. (Bandcamp)
From the first solemn and haunting notes of ‘She Was Coloured In’ – Who was coloured in, I need to ask? – I was hooked with the mighty force of a tiny penny stuck on a giant, fuck-off magnet. If I had been more productive in 2010 I would have splurged about how simple, beautiful and necessary this album is. I love it because its playful and its mournful and that’s quite a weird combination when you think about it, and a result that can only ever come from music this filmic. I am also predisposed to liking any band that names themselves after a Tarkovsky film, but that is neither here nor there. But the album is appropriately named, I think, because the music is beautifully tonal and dynamic. In honesty I don’t know enough about who these Bears are to comment, but I’d wager I owe them a lot for getting me through the insomnia this winter. (Myspace… wait, myspace?)
I don’t think I’m the only person who will feature this beautiful album on their best of 2010 lists this year. It is so bloody competent that anyone who manages to miss it is clearly an idiot birthed from the vaginal shoot of a farmyard animal. Second album by The Dinah Brand, ‘I Can Walk Through’ is an exercise in the lesson that less is more. I’m a lover of words and am more schooled in interpreting them than I am in music – which might explain a lot – and the lyrics are absolutely what stand out on this album, for me. I think the incomparable Harmless Noise blog beautifully expressed the bubbling feelings this album gives me, and bubbles which I could not personally put into words, so I shall bow to the master: “As people, we don’t dance cheek to cheek any more and that’s a shame because having heard I Can Walk Through, it’s what I’d like to do most.” (dot com)
Some of the most beautiful music I have discovered this year has come to me through the practice of circumstance. There is something to be taken from those moments of insomnia, fuelled so equally by coffee and lethargy, when your obsessive need to click and click and click again will transport you into un-trodden pastures. It is through this age-old practice of trial and error that I stumbled upon the enigmatic, psych-folk, genre-weavers that are Dublin’s Sacred Animals, and their Four Track EP ‘Welcome Home’.
As to the etymology of the band there is little to be said, for out there in the vastness of the internet, there is little to be found by one who entered into this agreement of artist and fan, unknowingly. In the act of self-creation, the band draw upon their native landscapes, between Dublin and Wexford, the mountains and the Sally Gap, to create a parallel with their music which is steeped in delicacy and nostalgia.
“From the Sally Gap you can look out across Lough Tay hundreds of metres below and see the wind carving its way through the hills. “The energy is incredible – so primal. You realise life is pretty fleeting. But that’s kind of precious in a weird way.”
My own experiences of the Sally Gap are vastly different from this considered familiarity. I remember Sundays spent dreading the stomach churning trip where I would spend the minutes with a tiny sweating head plastered to the back seat. I would have missed the view entirely were I not, time and again, without fail forced out of the car for air, stumbling along the windy roads with my Dad driving slowly behind, patient and resilient. Still, I think of moments, the ones spent exercising chubby legs with a belly full of bile and a lungful of the thick, wet air, when I listen to this EP. I think of the different experiences that a person can have from being stranded somewhere hidden, and the things that can come out of it. I can situate this music there, both in the vision that the band recreate in their music and in the memories I can draw from myself.
Quite simply, I find this absolutely beautiful. I think each song is amazing for an individual reason, and I think there is so much more to be had from listening to this over and over and thinking about and then listening again and not thinking at all. Darragh cites Thom Yorke and Grizzly Bear as interests and honestly, usually that would be enough to make me not want to listen to a band. But here the influences are apparent and visible but by no means overwhelming.
I’ve always felt a bit ill at ease with William Wordsworth’s reasoning that poetry is ‘a spontaneous overflow of emotion’. I’m not quite sure why, but there was something uncomfortable, for me, in the notion that art can be created in a single moment; taken from a point of catharsis or from anger. I can see Sacred Animals being described as a band of moments, plucking songs from the creations of these moments. For me it is something entirely different, and the songs sound like considerations. Reflections on these moments. It’s more of a comment on the spontaneity of nature, than spontaneity itself. I’d like to think of that as crafted.
I think in that way, it’s very difficult to choose a standout track from the EP. They all weave in together, but emerge from vastly different places. I think it’s worth listening to yourself, because I think people will find ultimately individual things in it themselves.
‘Welcome Home’ is streaming on Sacred Animals Bandcamp site, and will be officially launched into the world of solid, tangible items on September 13th. Keep your eyes open and your tongues extended.
It is also worth noting that Loreana Rushe of My Left Ventricle has done some absolutely gorgeous photography for the band, which they have duly posted on their facebook. You can see a sample of her work in the photo posted above, but it is well worth checking out the other two images posted. Seriously, I cannot stop looking at them.
One word review says: Delicate
Tags: sacred animals