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just like a drummer

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Tag Archives: sacred animals

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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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’.

Image by Loreana Rushe

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

http://sacredanimals.net

http://myspace.com/sacredanimals

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