Entries for September 2009

Articles

28
Review Snapshot: Cork's finest take to the stage in their home city and quite literally blow the pants off the punters and the roof off the venue...not sure if that's legal, but it's mighty craic! Full Review: Well, what a night! Murphy’s! Magic! The Mrank and Malters! Everything began with an M! Remember M for Michael later on! In a hothouse sauna renamed The Brog for the night, the Murphy’s Nice ‘n Nasty season continued with “Cork’s favourite sons” (© The Frank and Walters) allowing us to enter their world. Indeed, even in their 20th year, the Franks have never seemed as relevant to the masses who are force-fed Lady Gaga, Peter Andre and the Continuity Wolfe Tones (or whoever they are this week)! Take a string quartet, 2 original Franks, a new Frank and part-time Frank, lashings of free Murphy’s and music, sweat Fred West would have worked up. Mix it all together with a touch of madness. Ta-da! A nigh... [Read on]
Posted in: Gig Reviews, Cork
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26
Owl City 'Ocean Eyes'
A review of the album 'Ocean Eyes' by Owl City Review Snapshot: The third album by the Minnesotan whiz kid Adam Young is a shining example of unashamed synth-pop. From euphoric rhythms to surprisingly clever lyrics, the record is nothing if not uplifting. Unfortunately, the last few tracks descend into tortuous repetition (some of the songs seem to be based on exactly the same chord progressions), and Young's accent can be grating. Nonetheless, this is certainly Owl City's strongest album yet, and it's worth a listen, if only for a pick-me-up.  The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: For those who are already familiar with the first two Owl City albums, released while he was still unsigned, this 2009 release won’t offer you anything new. Four tracks on the album (two mixes of ‘Hello Seattle’, ‘On The Wing’, ‘The Saltwater Room’) are simply rehashed versions of tracks from ‘Of June’ and &... [Read on]
Posted in: Album reviews
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18
James Yorkston and the Big Eyes Family Players 'Folk Songs'
A review of the album Folk Songs by James Yorkston and the Big Eye Family Players Review Snapshot: An almost ideal combination of ye olde tunes with contemporary musical sensibilities, Yorkston and friends have created an album that is interesting and near irresistible. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: The title of this album is not only apt for its content, but also for its mood. Folk Songs, in title and nature, is simple, unassuming and charmingly frank. With eleven traditional tracks, it is an album of genuine grass-roots folk, marking it as occupying a different sphere to the Bob Dylans and modern folk artists. The question in listening to such as album is whether or not to hear it as part of, and on the same page as, the indie rock – or even folk rock – institution, or hear and value it as part of something separate, that of folk and traditional. The answer lies somewhere in the middle: Yorkston and Green's arrangements of these so... [Read on]
Posted in: Album reviews
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18
Tommy Reilly 'Words On the Floor'
A review of the album Words On The Floor by Tommy Reilly Review Snapshot: The debut album from Orange Unsigned Act Winner Tommy Reilly adequately shows his tremendous songwriting maturity, cleverly expressing his thoughts about 'never getting the girl' in a frank and honest way. The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: So, Tommy Reilly. Yes, he won Orange Unsigned Act after originally being told by Jo Whiley that he "wasn't experienced enough." And yes, he is a talented singer-songwriter. But what's that Robin? He's not joining the "worlds-skinniest-jeans-in-indie" competition or adopting overly emotional, almost fake tones in his music? Joyously, he isn't. Having been put through his paces on Orange Unsigned Act, most notably writing the excellent “I Don’t Like Coffee” at very short notice, Reilly has proved he can definitely deliver. In fact, this album clearly shows it. Opening track &ldq... [Read on]
Posted in: Album reviews
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17
David Gray 'Draw the line'
A review of David Gray's album 'Draw the line' Review Snapshot: David Gray's "Draw the line" - new songs, new band, new outlook. Same old same old. The CLUAS verdict? 5 out of 10 Full Review: Nothing screams late nineties quite like David Gray’s “White ladder”, a “classic” album that worked basically because its lo fi songs captured a moment and because Gray himself consciously, or unconsciously, lightened his own musical mood. Gray has trod so much water since “White ladder” that he has developed webbed feet. Noughties follow ups, “A New Day at Midnight “ and “Life in Slow Motion” are as workmanlike and well intentioned as they are forgettable but his “Lost Songs” collection of outtakes was a peak. His own wife said ”Lost Songs” should be accompanied by a government health warning but it worked because he submerged himself so totally in his own mis... [Read on]
Posted in: Album reviews
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15
VV Brown 'Travelling Like The Light'
A review of the album "Travelling Like The Light" by VV Brown Review Snapshot: A continually interesting album using older influences in a modern manner, placing VV Brown head-and-shoulders above the "soul revival" stratum. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: In the past few years there has been no shortage of pop artists willing to dig into the past for inspiration, drawing from classic sources for songwriting ideas. Like most things in music, this has provoked some fierce debate; are the modern artists legitimately drawing influence from previous musical styles, or pilfering the ideas of the past to cynically create a brand identity? While the truth is likely to be somewhere in between (few artists truly disregard the power of presentation) one question arises either way: does the retro fascination produce creative, enjoyable music? Like the question of authenticity, it can go either way; for every faithful summoning of soul (music an... [Read on]
Posted in: Album reviews
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15
Live in Kilkee, Co. Clare, 13th September 2009 Review Snapshot: Due to a tyre puncture on the way back from a surf session in neighbouring Doonbeg, yours truly was unavoidably delayed en route to the evening festivities in Kilkee, arriving in the Big Top just in time to see Stereo MCs walk on stage. Whew! The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: Stereo MCs: Looking around at the young wans who were waving their hands in the air to dance anthems such as ‘Black Gold’ and ‘Step it Up’ it was sobering to realise that a good proportion of them probably weren’t born when Stereo MCs released their first album. Once again the crisp, clean and loud sound mix that was a hallmark of this year’s festival proved a boon to the groovy tunes of a group who mix infectious beats with upfront, if stripped down, political statements. The only question was, why schedule them on the Sunday, when so many attendees were heading home for work on the Monday... [Read on]
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13
General Fiasco
General Fiasco, consisting of brothers Owen and Enda Strathern and school friend Stephen "Leaky" Leacock, have been setting the Northern Irish music scene alight for the past twelve months. Having already toured with One Night Only and Snow Patrol, and a certain Gary Lightbody singing their praises, this band is destined for big things. Lead singer and bassist Owen answered a few questions for me.. Do you have a specific method for songwriting? Is it usually lyrics first then music or vice versa? It usually happens all at once, I'll just sit with the bass or a guitar and start playing. The chords and melody come together and sometimes the lyrics too, they generally write themselves. Songs just come, when it works it's good and then at other times you cant squeeze out anything. I guess it's to do with mood or whatever, you need a little something driving the song - a stress or a worry.... or maybe something positive if you are that way inclined. What ar... [Read on]
Posted in: Interviews
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13
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Owen Ashworth began recording as Casiotone For The Painfully Alone in 1999. His unique songwriting has spawned 5 albums over those years and he has steadily grown in popularity. I caught up with him on his North American tour to ask him some questions. Did you enjoy your brief stop off in Vancouver? Did you get any time for sight-seeing? I never made it to Vancouver, unfortunately.  I got in a car accident on I-5, just north of Seattle.  My car was wrecked and I spent the night of the Vancouver show in a Travelodge in Everett, Washington.  I walked to a 7-Eleven and bought a beer and some Sun Chips and then laid in bed listening to a Seattle talk radio program called Too Beautiful To Live on the motel clock radio.   You're about half way through your North American tour. How has it gone so far? I'm home now, and other than the car accident, I think the tour went pretty well.  I felt very good about most of the shows, and enjoyed playing sol... [Read on]
Posted in: Interviews
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13
Cois Fharraige Day Two (live in Kilkee, Co. Clare) Review Snapshot: There were thousands of people walking around Kilkee on Saturday sporting the latest in surf fashion but in the water at Lahinch, Spanish Point and Doonbeg you could count the surfers on two hands. Meanwhile back at the festival, The Hold Steady, Noah and The Whale and Newton Faulkner served up some savage musical entertainment The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: The Hold Steady Looking like the cast of Seinfeld decided to form a band, the anxious nerd rock of The Hold Steady proved the perfect antidote to the mellow sunlit vibes that have blessed the festival thus far, with ‘Stay Positive’ being a crowd highlight. The band’s hard chugging sound and neuroses laced lyrics were an unusual counterpoint to a festival that, thus far, has aimed for a balance between very serious rock and music that you can drink to. If you are the sort of person who curses the sunshine and stays ... [Read on]
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