Key Notes - an Irish music blog by Steven O'Rourke

Key Notes blog

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A journey to the centre of the alternative music scene.
By Steven O'Rourke on Thursday, November 12, 2009
As you've probably guessed from the blog title and, indeed, the summary,Steve this will be the final ever edition of Key Notes.  It might not be a huge surprise to those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis as the silence emanating from Key Note Towers over the past few weeks has been deafening.  Unfortunately, I totally underestimated how much time and effort a Masters would require and, while it would have been an easy decision to hold on to this blog and only update it once or twice per month, I think you, the Key Notes reader, deserves better. 

This blog set out to entertain and inform in equal measure and on a regular basis.  I hope that I have achieved that over the past two and a...
By Steven O'Rourke on Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Yesterday, Monday 26 October 2009, this blog ran (and completed) its very first Marathon. It was a day of extreme highs and lows and one that I'll probably never forget.  I know for sure that my right knee won't let me forget anytime soon.

As I reached the start line at 8.30, the air was heavy with the smell of fear and deep heat.  Nervous pleasantries were exchanged between competitors amidst final stretches and photographs.  Everyone wanted to know what time everyone else wanted to achieve.  If I could do it in less that 4 hours, 30 minutes, I'd be very happy.  If I could somehow find the adrenalin to do it in less than four then I'd be ecstatic!  As the 9.00 start time approached, my emotions began...
By Steven O'Rourke on Thursday, October 15, 2009
And so Dublin's most hectic, fun-filled, music weekend is finally upon us!  The full schedule for Hard Working Class Heroes 2009, details of which you can find below or on the HWCH website, has been announced.  

There are obviously a lot of great bands that one could see over the weekend but Key Notes will more than likely be found at the following:

Friday Midatlantic - The Button Factory - 7.15-7.45 Theme Tune Boy - 4 Dame Lane - 8.15-8.45 Subplots - Andrew's Lane - 8.50-9.20 Here Come The Landed Gentry - Academy 2 - 9.30-10.00 The Ambience Affair...
By Steven O'Rourke on Monday, October 12, 2009
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of lads if you ask Key Notes.  Long time favourites of this particular blog, Dark Room Notes, announced on their MySpace this morning that they had just inked a deal with Berlin/London based BBE.

According to the band: We Love You Dark Matter will (now) receive a worldwise release in 2010.

It seems...
By Steven O'Rourke on Friday, October 9, 2009
One of Hard Working Class Heroes' unique selling points (along with not having to buy a tent!) is the involvement of the industry in the event.  This year, Culture Ireland and IMRO have teamed up with HWCH to facilitate the presence of key speakers over the course of the weekend.

Mentor Speed Sessions Mentor Speed Sessions, where Irish and International industry and media professionals will be available for one-on-one questioning to help you navigate the potential pitfalls in the music industry, will take place between 10.30 and 13.00 in The Button Factory on Saturday...
By Steven O'Rourke on Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Key Notes Returns To College Key Notes has had an interesting couple of weeks.  For a start, I'm now a full time student again.  I started my Masters in Journalism last week and, so far, it's pretty much everything I was hoping it would be.  Shorthand is tough, especially for someone who doesn't write in a cursive script to start with, but aside from that, Key Notes is sure he's made the right decision career/life wise.

Marathon Preparations Those of you who follow this blog will know that I am currently training for the Adidas Dublin City Marathon on October 26.  In preparation for this I recently ran the Adidas Dublin Half Marathon with my mother (aw bless).  While my time was nothing to write home about,...
By Steven O'Rourke on Thursday, September 24, 2009
'We weren't Spanish. We just liked crowns!'

That's the message greeting visitors to the Future Kings of Spain Myspace page this morning.  In fairness, I've heard rumours of the band's demise for more than a month now but, to see it become official, makes Key Notes feel very sad.  For years they were, by a long way, my favourite Irish band and, while my musical tastes have changed over the years, they remained a band whose records would always be on my mp3 player and whose gigs I would always keep an eye out for.

I still have very fond memories of my first time seeing the...
By Steven O'Rourke on Monday, September 21, 2009
The Friday and Saturday night headliners for Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 have been announced.  Conor O'Brien and his Villagers will headline Andrew's Lane Theatre on Friday October 16 while Fionn Regan will conclude proceedings on Saturday October 17 in The Button Factory.

Those of you who haven't managed to get your hands on Villagers' stunning Hollow Kind EP are really missing out.  O'Brien, formerly of The Immediate,...
By Steven O'Rourke on Thursday, September 10, 2009
It will probably come as no surprise, but I don't remember much about my birth.  I know I was a reluctant child; if my Mam is to be believed she was in labour longer than Pat Rabbitte.  I do remember most of my birthdays though, even the one that everyone else forgot. Unfortunately, John Hughes didn't make a movie about me (probably because I wasn't a 16 year old American girl).  My most memorable birthday was probably my 21st, which I spent in hospital waiting for an operation to remove metal pins from my arm.  That was fun!

That's enough about me though, this blog is supposed to be about the statistical anomaly that has seen so many influential musicians who happen to die at my new age.  The 27 Club or the Forever 27 Club contains the likes of Jimi Hendrix,...
By Steven O'Rourke on Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Speech Debelle has just been announced as the winner of the 2009 Mercury Prize.  Unfortunately, this means that Ireland's Lisa Hannigan didn't win, keeping Ireland's 100% record of not winning the competition in tact.  Hopefully it didn't lose because, as one of the guests interviewed by Lauren Laverne on tonight's show stated, it was 'too sweet' and 'just nice to listen to when making a vegetable curry' and not suitable for winning the Mercury Prize.  What a terrible indictment of a record and one that is, in this blogs' opinion, totally undeserved.  Sea Sew is, in places, perhaps a little twee, but...
By Steven O'Rourke on Wednesday, August 26, 2009
As followers of Key Notes will know, Hard Working Class Heroes (HWCH) returns for the seventh consecutive year in October (Friday October 16 to Sunday October 18 2009).  Taking place, once more, in Dublin's Temple Bar, HWCH is a great opportunity for bands and music fans alike to experience festival-like conditions without any fear of someone setting fire to your tent.

Yesterday, the first 99 Irish bands were announced and, well, it's a pretty impressive list.  Stand-out acts for me are The Ambience Affair, Dark Room Notes...
By Steven O'Rourke on Friday, August 14, 2009
The way people listen to music has changed, with the advent of the download the emphasis has reverted to single tracks. It hasn't helped that most people have forgotten how to make a decent album. I'm constantly disappointed with records I buy. - Tim Wheeler - Ash

None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again - Thom Yorke - Radiohead

I think a lot. It comes with the territory when you spend the majority of your days with just a dog with a personality disorder for company. ...
By Steven O'Rourke on Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Cois Fharraige, Ireland's number one music and water sports festival, returns to Kilkee, Co. Clare this September.  The 3 day event will take place between Friday September 11 and Sunday September 13.

Previous incarnations of the festival has seen performances from the likes of Seasick Steve, Supergrass, Travis...
By Steven O'Rourke on Friday, August 7, 2009
An excerpt from the Kevin Smith movie, Dogma:

Bethany:  What exactly brought you to Illinois? Jay:  Some fuck called John Hughes. Bethany:  Sixteen Candles John Hughes? Jay: You know that guy, too? See, all these movies take place in a small town called Shermer, in Illinois, where all the honies are top-shelf, but all the dudes are whiny pussies - except for Judd Nelson, he was fuckin' harsh - but best of all, there was no one dealin', man; then, it hits me: we could live like phat rats if we were the blunt connection in Shermer, Illinois. So we collected some money we were owed, and we caught a bus. You know what the fuck we found out when we got there? There is...
By Steven O'Rourke on Tuesday, August 4, 2009
This is supposed to be a series of blogs that look at the individuals who populate Irish indie gigs and yet, in this particular entry, Key Notes will be profiling the type of person who would never be seen alone.

Introduction: scenesters are far too cool for capital letters.  The time you and I waste searching for the shift key (or, worse still, caps lock) is time they can spend getting their fringe just right.  Indeed, such is their dedication to this, they only purchase products beginning with lower case letters, such as iPhones, iPods and, well, you get the idea.  It is one of nature's great mysteries that scenesters are very self-aware and yet, almost always unaware of their status as scenesters.  As such, they are amongst the most deluded of the Irish indie gig goers.

By Steven O'Rourke on Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Normal 0 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} Having been nominated for 'Best European Festival' in the UK Festival Awards 2008; Castlepalooza is back and will take place over the course of the August Bank Holiday Weekend (Saturday August 1 & Sunday August 2) in the gorgeous surroundings of Charleville Castle, Tullamore. ...
By Steven O'Rourke on Wednesday, July 22, 2009
In this, the 10th edition of Key Note Speaker, Key Notes' speaks to Anna, Pearse, and Jamie of Charm Offensive, the Kildare based band who take their influences from many bands but who manage to sound distinctly unlike anyone else (including themselves).  Charm Offensive play Upstairs in Whelan's today (July 22) at 8pm.  Declaration of interest: The Anna involved is Anna Murray of CLUAS fame, proving what a multi-talented writing team we've assembled here!

Favourite Songs from the Past Year Anna Is it too late to count Portishead’s...
By Steven O'Rourke on Friday, July 17, 2009
On April 8 2008, not only did I lose my father-in-law to cancer but I also lost one of my best friends.  Alan Smyth was in the prime of his life when he first got sick and during his illness often joked that he would be 'the healthiest man in the graveyard.'  The dignity with which he fought his cancer and the strength and sense of humour he showed even when he knew it was a fight he could not win shows just what type of person he was. 

During Alan's illness I saw first hand how tragically under funded cancer care is in Ireland.  The Irish Cancer Society is dedicated to changing this and so I swore when Alan died that I would do my bit to try and raise funds for them.  Therefore, on October 26 I will be running the Lifestyle Sports/Adidas Dublin City Marathon to raise funds for The Irish Cancer Society.  In the build up to the Marathon...
By Steven O'Rourke on Thursday, July 16, 2009
The Good

Magnetic North The type of Northern Irish music that usually makes headlines around the 12th of July is not the sort we would typically report on here at CLUAS.  However, over the course of last weekend's Oxegen festival there were four Northern acts that stood head and shoulders above most of their Southern peers.  While both Duke Special and Iain Archer reaffirmed...
By Steven O'Rourke on Thursday, July 9, 2009
Oxegen09Last year, CLUAS was the first publication in the world to provide reviews of Oxegen, Electric Picnic, Cois Fharraige and Hard Working Class Heroes.  Some publications would sit back and think 'job well done.' ...
By Steven O'Rourke on Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Three parts Irish, one part Canadian, The Angel Pier kicked off 2009 with a storming show to a packed Whelan's showcasing songs from their debut album which will be released later this year.  In this edition of Key Note Speaker, Mark Colbert, drummer with The Angel Pier, takes time out from promoting the band's new single, Align The Seas.

The Angel PierFavourite Songs from the Past Year Halfway Home - TV on The Radio

Favourite Song Ever This changes daily.

Favourite Angel Pier Song Align the Seas, which happens to be coming out as a single in the very near future (July...
By Steven O'Rourke on Friday, July 3, 2009
HWCH 09This blog is by no means old.  However, when Key Notes realised that Hard Working Class Heroes (HWCH) would be seven this year, it stopped him in his tracks.  What a different place the world was in 2003.  That being said, the more things change, the more they remain the same and HWCH continues its raison d'être: an Irish Festival for Irish Bands. 

With this in mind, HWCH launched its call for bands on Wednesday evening.  Despite the heat (and boy, was it hot) a large number of familiar faces gathered in Freebird Records (Secret Book & Record Store and nirvana for music nerds like Key Notes who also have an unhealthy fetish for second hand books).  The event was launched by Angela Dorgan of First Music Contact,...
By Steven O'Rourke on Thursday, July 2, 2009
The law of diminishing returns states that, despite the continued application of effort/skill towards a particular project, there will undoubtedly be a decline in effectiveness.  Somebody should tell Mark Kozelek, a man who has managed to combine productivity and critical acclaim so easily that it would be easy to hate the guy out of sheer jealousy.  Thankfully, it's impossible not to like someone who can release an album of AC/DC covers!

Over the course of his career, Kozelek has produced no less than 13 studio albums; six with Red House Painters, three with Sun Kil Moon...
By Steven O'Rourke on Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Key Notes found it very difficult to resist the temptation to call this feature: How To Be A Happy Camper.  However, the tips included here are not just for those planning to camp, but for everyone making their way to Punchestown for Oxegen 2009 (July 9 - 12).

1. Don't Forget Your Ticket It may seem like the most obvious thing in the world but Key Notes has seen many people arrive at a gig/festival without their ticket over the years.  This blog lives just a couple of miles from Punchestown, but imagine you travelled all the way from Cork or Belfast with all your gear but without your ticket.  Wouldn't be a very nice feeling now would it? Before you leave your house, double and triple check your ticket.

2. Remember You're in Ireland It might be July, but all weather conditions, from heat wave to monsoon, are possible, and can...


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