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just like a drummer

i wake up with the thunder of your typewriter, every night

I came across Hipster Youth on a blog a few months ago, procured the album Teenage Elders via bandcamp and promptly continued to ignore its presence on my hard drive for weeks on end, where it sat dusty and unloved, hidden beneath the hundreds of jpeg images getting daily use in my ‘Man Hoes’ folder. Such a situation is not indicative of the quality of the album, and rather illustrates to the world the lethargy and lack of drive that can be contained within the corporeal confines of this female body. While rooting around for things I wanted to feature on this blog, I came upon the file, embarrassingly still in its beige, zipped up suitcase, untouched by the wonders of WINZIP, unable to open its mouth and breathe itself out.

Hipster Youth is the alter-ego of Porn on Vinyl’s Aidan Wall. Aidan Wall is 19 years old, and can thus line up behind the massive queues of teenagers that make me feel like an abysmally uninteresting human being with nothing to offer the world with my vapidly ageing 22 year old body. But less about me and my Peter Pan complex.

This is, fittingly, what I would describe with my limited musical vocabulary, as bedroom music. Bedroom music in that it has that level of low-fi production – always a bonus for me – and bedroom music in that when listening you find yourself thinking that that is where it is suited to; Lying on your bed, typing on your laptop, staring at a larger-than-socially-acceptable poster of Lloyd Cole on your ceiling, right above your bed so that when you wake up it is the first thing you see, and in a way that excites you, but in a way that sort of makes you scared due to the implications… these are the moments that listening to Teenage Elders seems appropriate. And I think that’s bloody fantastic. It is a demonstration in making the music of the everyday. It’s perfectly named in that sense, because every teenager with an over-sensitive personality and probably a touch of psychosis has had those moments of being utterly floored by music and the possibilities of it, the things that become achievable from the darkness and must of the bedroom. And from the bedroom it did emerge.

What’s cool about it too, despite what I may have implied by the use of the word ‘everyday’ is that listening to the album makes you feel like you’re somewhere else altogether. ‘Little Lost Bear’ – capitals included despite the inclinations of the artist formerly known as Hipster Youth -, for example, turns listeners into human Mario’s, trotting along arm and leg extended, crushing Koopas under brown-bootied-feet. ‘Super Fun Hipster Suicide Party’ makes me feel like I’ve taken a lot of Salvia. Basically the point is, its escapism. It doesn’t feel Irish and it doesn’t feel mundane and it can be listened to by Irish people and mundane people in their Irish and mundane bedrooms so they feel… like they’re not Irish and mundane.

If I could fault the album, it would be to say that it suffers a little bit from its inconsistency. The tracks are all unique, and of course this is never an insult, but on occasion while sitting with my eyes closed, finding myself immersed in the delicate, morose keening of Wall’s occasional vocals, I found myself suddenly kneed in the eye, gobbed in the chin and jerked back into seating from my position of comfort. This, again, is not really a negative; sometimes you like to be surprised and awoken from the euphoric slumber, but I think in the case of some of these tracks, the changes are too sudden. I feel like a record so dependent on its circuits should feel more like a circuit in itself. It should feel rounded and like you’re getting mutated versions of the same thing. Like you’re given an idea, and you’re told to run with it, in circles and in squares and into walls and back again, but you run with it anyway. I’ve never been one to demand an album give me 12 identical tracks, and I am certainly not demanding it here. Teenage Elders should be rewarded for its dynamics; what I feel it is only slightly lacking, is the cohesion.

Despite this, I honestly recommend this album with aplomb. I think it is fun, it’s exciting and it’s experimental. Personally, I have listened to it over and over, and what I think resonates from it, is its undeniable potential. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Hipster Youth, and really hope Aidan Wall is given the opportunity to bang out the record that is clearly living inside him and his annoyingly young and talented head.

You can download Teenage Elders for absolutely nothing, or you can do the advisable thing and shell out the modest 12 quid for the deluxe edition – all over at the Hipster Youth bandcamp.

One word review says: Promising

http://hipsteryouth.bandcamp.com

http://www.myspace.com/hipsteryouthh

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Delayed to the parade, this is a public service announcement. BATS new video has begun melting faces all over Dublin and the metaphorical plains of the internet. Watch out for friends who approach you with a glazed look in their eye and a goofy smile on a face as green as crumbly cheese. It is almost a certainty that, like me, they have spent an afternoon in relish and in envy, re-watching the stunning videoscape.

The track is Star Wormwood from BATS debut album Red in Tooth and Claw, and was incredulously formed from a budget of next to nothing by Conor and Tim of Digital Beast. You can watch it in all its glory below.

 

This particular song, as is indicative of the whole album, is driven by lyrical content. Nay McArdle has blogged the most fantastic article and interview with the band that will shed a lot more light than I ever could on the eccentricities of the album, and the band’s ideological intentions in making it. It is more than worth reading it after a few listens to the song if what you like from your music is provocation and the need to be pushed further. To think. If you want to sit and enjoy it for the pure sensationalism, that’s okay too and there is no small thing to be taken from the utter joyous experience of turning your brain off, and appreciating the pure musicality of this song.

For me personally, I find that every minute of attention I give this album the more I find to listen to. No two plays of Star Wormwood and now the fantastic video that goes with it offer the same reaction, and this unique ability to fill me with a need to understand every sentence is probably the main reason for listening to this wonderful band who can boast an absolutely singular attention to lyrical detail. And they are, these details, exquisitely intricate. It may be because I have a bleeding spot in my heart for musicians who can write words as beautifully as they play, but I adore the sentiment that has gone into this song. It feels utterly complete, in a way it only can after hours and hours of thoughts and emotions and absolute certainty in what is trying to be conveyed in the words that wrap this song up like a manifesto.

What’s special about this band and the music they make is that they are unafraid to ask the questions that can either plague us or set us free. BATS choose the latter, and in this magnificent debut seem to not only challenge us, but offer the solution.

BATS will be supporting Adebisi Shank on their album launch in Whelan’s on Friday. Due to relocation and unfortunate timing I won’t be able to make it myself, but with the combination of two of the most important bands in Ireland on one stage, the night is looking to be absolutely explosive. You’d be a fucking idiot to miss it.

One word review says: Necessary.

http://www.myspace.com/leatherbeatsfeather

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I don’t feel self-conscious saying that Adebisi Shank are the best band in Ireland right now. In, fact what I feel about that statement is something bordering on certainty. I would put forward to you that saying Adebisi Shank are the best band in Ireland right now is comparable to saying that although yes, truth is relative, and essentially our experiences of it, subjective, I think we can all agree that the world is round. And that Adebisi Shank are the best band in Ireland, right now. You know how it goes, if Carlsberg were making Experimental Math Rock…

Having left mouths agog and salivating with their first album, imaginatively titled ‘This is the First Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank’, the trio have moved onwards and upwards with their follow up record ‘This is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank’. Let us follow the trains of thought that stitched those two titles together.

This is the Best Album You'll Hear All Year by a Band Called Adebisi Shank

What I love most about this album is that it never tiptoes into self-indulgence. It’s as restrained as it is monumental. And on its epic scope it is crammed full of variety. None of the tracks sound exactly like each other, and none of them sound like anyone else either. These ideas are inventive and ambitious and their execution is immaculate. The entire album feels like a wave that is constantly threatening to break and split you in two, but never quite does. It just leaves you edgy and wanting more, and if you are as ridiculous a post-pubescent cliché as I, then probably smashing your fists in the air as you dance around your bedroom to ‘Micromachines’ which is thus far, for me, the standout track.

There are also a few interesting guests on the record; Previously blogged and currently thriving Conor O’Brien of Villagers features on ‘Europa’, being his, ya know, deadly self, while the album’s closing track ‘Century City’ sees Jape throwing electric bricks in our faces on synth.

For you lucky people, the legend that is Nialler9 is streaming the full album on his blog all week. Seriously, I’d get on that. This is a band that never fails to make me feel pure, pulsating excitement. You can buy the album from August 20th onwards, and catch the launch on the same day in Whelans. Tower Records are also hosting an instore on the 23rd, with wristbands limited to the first 150 enthusiasts to arrive into the store this Friday. Go forth and do the robot.

The one word review says: Immaculate

http://www.twitter.com/adebisishank

http://www.myspace.com/adebisishank

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Squarehead are a ridiculously good looking band. Let’s just take that as a categorical imperative. Is this a good enough reason to write about them? I think it is. In the paraphrased words of the great Gregory House, why do one’s genetic gifts of brains and talent trump their genetic gift of beauty? Why is it okay for me to tell a girl that her Jack Kerouac t-shirt makes her look like an interesting person (side note: No it doesn’t. It really doesn’t), while yelling ‘BIG ONES’ across the streets of Finglas at a girl with ‘Juicy’ stamped across her arse is only ever deemed ‘socially unacceptable’ by the people who decide these things. There is something odd to be taken from the indignation that calling someone a ride can arouse in people. ‘And, can you talk about the music please?’ As much as I would love to make this a manifesto for superficiality in all its forms, the argument becomes redundant when circumstantial evidence is inspected. Because although total Betties, Squarehead (which is actually spelled with capital letters in odd places) are not just a ridiculously good looking band. They are also a really good one.

Image by Loreana Rush

So in one sense of the word, Squarehead are a trio of rides. And despite my indignation at the fact that our culture forces us to ignore the beauty of young men in at least relatively small trousers, I will persevere with the alternative definition; That Squarehead are a promising, young band of three: Roy Duffy, Ian McFarlane and Ruan Van Vliet. The piece of pop they have presented us with and indeed the maguffin that proved the catalyst for the creation of this post, is their current release, ‘Fake Blood /Mother Nurture’ on 7”.  The two tracks are congruent yet different enough to be interesting. The lyrics are utterly charming and make me feel like I’m remembering a painfully joyous youth of scorned romance that I never had. Despite being laid back it is, too, confrontational; this is joyous, a little bit sad and surprisingly vicious in places. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you feel very comfortable very fast and then gobs in your eyes when you least expect it. Made to be enjoyed, sung along to, performed at summer parties, but also for carefully chosen mixcds and moments when you feel a little more ‘Strangeways…’ than ‘The Queen is Dead’ (Worry not, this sounds nothing like The Smiths)

I had thought about not posting this review because my blog is becoming Popical heavy, and while wanting to use this metaphorical space on the internet for the promotion of the Irish Music Scene (From herein to be known only as ‘The Mission for The Greater Good’), I seem to have latched on to the bumming of a very particular facet of this proposed ‘scene’. Unfortunately for me if not for them, where the isle is concerned the hits keep coming and Squarehead are absolutely no exception.

As a side note they also have ridiculously good t-shirts that I will be spending at least ten minutes this evening trying to figure out how to procure. As for you, do yourself a favour and pop into Tower Records, pick up an apple and mess up the cd displays (I’ve heard it annoys  the punk lad that works there) and get yourself Squarehead’s new 7”. I mean, sure why wouldn’t you?

One word review says: Dynamic

http://www.myspace.com/squareheadmusic

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 I like tongue in cheek. I like wondering if when I interpret something as ‘tongue in cheek’ I am at all understanding a person’s authorial intent or whether I’m merely missing the point and lumping an entire work of speculative fiction  into that giant umbrella of terminology, willy-nilly. Sometimes I still laugh at the word willy and I think that’s a bit tongue in cheek. A lot of the bands on Popical Island are quite tongue in cheek, to my ears. Fun, but well thought out music with the intention of making people happy – one of the foremost preoccupations of all good music, one argues – generally falls into this category, thus illuminating this black hole in my confident ability to talk about music with purpose, making its absence ironically visible to the world. Whether I am interpreting it correctly however, is little of the point.

Photograph by Nick Van Vliet

In what is possibly related, I can say that amidst relocations and life changing alterations in personalities, I have been mostly preoccupied, this summer, with waiting for Groom‘s new album, ‘Marriage‘. Although my appetite has not yet been satiated, it has been whetted with a lovely sneak preview track on the Sweet Oblivion Blog – see: good blog – and anticipation tastes like cherry pie. With a dollop of vanilla ice-cream, not vanilla flavoured ice-cream. The song is ‘All the Bored People’ and I narcissistically feel it to have been designed specifically for my needs, which in the wake of ‘finding myself’ and mild to middling homesickness, needed a little indulgence. It’s sweet, fun music. The lyrics are Stuart Murdoch, to my faux literary ear, with a little less gratuitous simper and a little more off-beat, ‘did that quite rhyme?’ charm. It’s not that I don’t like Belle and Sebastian, it just all seems to work too well, and I don’t find that an issue with Groom, who are fast becoming my favourite topping on the Popical Sundae.

With the remnants still disintegrating in my mouth, I can safely say that following the charmer that was last years ‘At The Natural History Museum’, Groom remain equally on form with the promise of rising to even greater heights. Bring on the ‘Marriage‘! Due August 21st, my breath is bated.

And meanwhile, at the bar, a fangirl muses.

 One word review says: Creamingmyself.

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I am a believer in certain fundamental truths, an idiosyncracy that is a little at odds with my personality on a whole. But I believe that when the day comes to a close there are things that remain unmoved, words that sustain their meaning despite the shifting of the polar plates, and feelings that though untangible, cannot be swayed, mutated or poisoned. These fundamental truths are the sum of my core values.

I believe Tom Selleck is a moustachio master.

I believe that milk should never be taken inward from a pint glass.

I believe a lot of things about milk. Mostly that it is ungodly.

I believe that Morrissey is a fallen angel, and I believe that indiepop is underrated.

There is a lot of really cool things about the Irish Music Scene at the moment, ironically capitalised, because in a weird way there is no consistent factor that makes it even feel like a ‘scene’, other than a relatively tangible geographical banding. There are bands like Adebisi Shank who, for me, just make it worth getting out of bed in the morning. There are artists like the previously blogged Villagers that are managing to break beyond the Irish Scene yet feel, at once, an authentic representation of it. For me though, the coolest thing might just be Popical Island.

Popical Island : I want to go to there

An indiepop collective that started somewhere I do not know, Popical Island is every awesome artist and musician in Dublin (and beyond) that I have been listening to on one succulent compilation, boinged and wrapped in the most delicious album art this side of everything Belle and Sebastian ever did, ever. Although there is a vast variety of eclectic acts on the compilation, perhaps the most impressive thing is the overall cohesion of the record, something that is made even more impressive when you think about the fact that the sounds on this album are far from the ones that spring to mind when you think about what’s going on in Dublin right now.

As I’ve said above though, I’m a huge fan of indiepop and twee music, from a childhood obsession with Sarah Records to the twenty two year old’s inability to accept when anything that isn’t The Wave Pictures is prefaced with the statement ‘holy crap, this is the best thing in the world’, so it wasn’t a stretch of my sensibilities to like this compilation. It’s quite difficult then to pick standout tracks, since I want to eat the entire thing with Ballymalloe relish, but because I expect it of myself, if not from others, I will bless you with three;

Land Lovers, ‘Is Nowhere Far Away Anymore’, because it’s immensely crafted, funny and poignant; Pantone247, ‘Maybe Tonight’ because it’s lovely and sad and the best indie songs are the ones that convince you you’re happy only to shred your insides in a grinder; And finally, ‘Mysteries of Life’ by Groom because its pure exhileration, and actually probably my favourite of the three.

For anyone who is reading this and salivating at the thought of handclaps, boys in knitted jumpers and a whole lot of heart, the compilation is streaming over at the Popical Islands Bandcamp for the next week or so, and on July 19th you can catch almost the entirety of the tracklisting manifesting themselves as real life people, on stage in an epic seven hour gigathon, upstairs in Whelans. Festivities commence at 3 and the running order is soon to be announced, so peel your eyes.

The one word review says Hella-Exciting!

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I have got absolutely no authority so to speak, when it comes to music. Having no natural claim to Shiva given talent myself, and aside from an attachment to a kazoo – a toy, apparently – called ‘Hank’ after the legendary depressive that is, I have no ability with melodic mechanisms. I am not now, nor do I ever plan to be the kind of person who talks or types about music with that thing called an authentic critical voice. I’m not informed enough to grasp the dialects of comparing musicians to one another, in the seeminly Derridian manner that it is done in, whereby X can only exist insofar as it relates to Y.

It baffles me that, one, you cannot listen to a thing and relate to it on the level where sound can equal a genuine bodily reaction – ‘Carrot Rope’ by Pavement gives me the ‘orn – as opposed to deconstructing it as a sum of parts, examining its  suitability to a list of seemingly biblicaly canonical counterparts. It’s not an attempt to make listening to music a faffy Liberal Humanist affair or anything, its really just another talent I lack, by not being, by nature, a journalist. It baffles me also, that unlike everyone I know who finds a passion and dances with it, I struggle to associate with any particular genre. I think in a way the two problems are somewhat linked. My lack of ability to hear genre and influence merely forces me into the umbrella academy of the uninformed eclectics.

Number Four: Same Taste in Food as me

I think, then, that I should warn you that when I attempt to inform you that Villagers are my favourite thing that have not only emerged from Ireland, but managed to make a dint, however modest, in the infrastructure of the British music appreciating machine, in quite some time, I shall in no way be attempting to telling you that you will like them if you have been similarly enjoying A, B and C. The manner in which I discuss Villagers will be discontinuous, badly worded, and lacking that thing, that central understanding of how the archetypal music blog is supposed to work. I have already continually broken the laws of blogging ettiquette with this outrageous introduction and as expected, you have stopped your scanning with the schizoid expression of ‘too long mate, didn’t read’.

But I will persevere. Villagers is the brainchild of Mallahide born Conor O’Brien, a name that is so unfittingly standard that it would lead a person like me, one seeped in the horribly unfair preconception that Irish singer songwriters are generally worth looking past, do just that and overlook. I would be in that judgement, characteristically wrong. Not only is this an unholy oversight on his musical abilities, but I’d imagine you’d struggled to find a girl who would physically overlook Conor, as he is, as they say, a bit of a ride. Imagine Ian Curtis crossed with… well, actually they’re all a bit alright, and if anyone is interested in discussing this in a manner decidedly less academic, I can forward you on a link to where I’ve ranked them according to The List, a la Hillary Duff; Apparently they all enjoy spontaneously jetting off to exotic locations and public fights and make up sex, how is a girl to choose?

But riding aside, Villagers debut album ‘Becoming a Jackal‘ – Also the name of the albums first single, as though they didn’t notice -, released in May 2010, is as poetic and understated as it is toe-tapping and monumental. The lyrics meander with the thoughtfullness of words that can only ever have been intended to be poetry. The music does not suffer from that horrid thing called over-production, instead coming off polished and yet lightly touched, O’Brien’s minimalistic keening only added to by the mildness of his backing band (I want to scream ‘Bright Eyes’, but both hate to be called a hypocrite and don’t feel the comparisson does either of them justice).

Personal highlights are the album’s opener, ‘I Saw the Dead’ – about as hallucinatorily disturbing as I’d imagine he planned it to be-  and the squalked piano ballad and beautifully titled ‘The Sun is Hanging from a String’. Fans of Villagers can catch them on their tiny, east coast American tour, and later doing the festival circut around Britain and Ireland.

The one word review says  Captivating.

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