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just like a drummer

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Tag Archives: groom

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)

Groom – Marriage

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)

Sacred Animals – Welcome Home EP

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)

The Cast of Cheers – Chariot

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)

Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In

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?)

The Dinah Brand – I Can Walk Through

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)


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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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