The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Josh Ritter (live in Dublin)
Josh Ritter (live in Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin) Review Snapshot: Josh Ritter played to a packed Grand Canal Theatre last night. A night of funny, yet entirely irrelevant stories, a sus...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

Saturday the 17th of April was Record Store Day, an initiative which is now in its fourth year that encourages people to support their local independent record shop. This was of course a day marked in the calendar of indie music shop owners everywhere and it was also an ample opportunity for me to wander around Dublin City having a look in some of my favourite record shops, and discovering some new ones.  Most impressive was Road Records, a favourite of mine. The staff donned suits for the occasion and chalked the logo for Record Store Day outside the shop.

And besides the great atmosphere there was another reason to get excited about Record Store Day - limited edition vinyl releases. There was interesting array of releases this year; a Factory Records compilation featuring the likes of Joy Division and Happy Mondays, The Beatles 'Paperback Writer / Rain' 7” and Blur’s first single since 2003 (and this time including Graham Coxon!) ‘Fool’s Day’ were among some of the must-haves. Luckily for those of us who couldn’t get the Blur vinyl in time the song is now available as a free download here.

And last but not least are the in-stores, the one which I was most excited about was Villagers, but he was unable to be there as he was stranded in Belgium because of the unforgiving volcanic ash. I did get to see Heathers' in-store in Tower Records, it was the day after their Late Late Show performance, and their music was as striking as ever. Here's a video of their most popular song so far, which I'm sure everyone's heard on the Discover Ireland ads, 'Remember When.'

More ...

[Read more...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

Our regular readers know by now this blog's taste in pop. Catchy and swaggering, please - and if it's dark and electro-fied too, so much the better. We find that in France it's the boy-girl duos who do this best - Pravda and John & Jehn, for instance.

Pink Noise Party

Joining that esteemed company are Pink Noise Party (right), a Paris pair comprising Joy Buckley and Syd Rey. (Pink noise is a sound frequency just lower than white noise, and is a feature of analogue keyboards.)

What do we know about them? Well, perusing their MySpace page the following facts present themselves:

  • They're both quantum physicists, meeting in university at a class that Syd was teaching and Joy taking.
  • They build their own keyboards, using parts from old synthesisers.
  • They give underwater performances.
  • They have a gig this August at a festival in Balaclava near the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, scene of the (in)famous Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854.

Even if none of that is true (though quantum physicists are quite welcome to become pop stars), Pink Noise Party are already far more interesting, imaginative and creative than most bands. So far, so good!

But what about the tunes? Well, they're synth-y and slinky - those home-made analogue keyboards have the retro vibe of Roxy Music and the disco-tronic glamour of The Human League. Taut guitar riffs put the swagger into tracks like 'X Buddy' and 'Golden Blond Pulsar Trance' (quantum physicists, remember), while 'Pesky Girl' has an industrial harshness. And the songs have melodies and choruses, stuff most French bands seem to consider contemptible.

Which is not to say that Pink Noise Party haven't been thinking about their art. Back to their MySpace blurb to see how they see themselves: "They describe their music as l’art consomme de melody pop [...] Their lyrics are in turn introspective or committed, pondering in particular on the frantic tempo of post-modern western lifestyle."  Oh dear.

But anyway, you only have to listen to their tunes, not make dinner-table conversation with them. Check out the Pink Noise Party MySpace page to hear some of their fine tracks. Here's the only video we've found of them - from a show earlier this month at L'International in Paris (a regular haunt of your correspondent), it's 'By Numbers':

More ...

[Read more...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

Rock en Seine might be familiar to you, by name at least. Last year the annual Paris summer festival earned its place in rock history/pub quiz trivia when Oasis split up mere minutes before they were due to go on stage.

Indeed, Rock en Seine has had recurring problems with its choice of headliners. Two years in a row, Amy Winehouse cancelled at the last minute. Such are the perils of booking tabloid-friendly big-name rock stars.

Rock en Seine 2010

It seems that the festival organisers have learned their lesson: this year Rock en Seine goes for weekend-wide credibility rather than putting all their eggs in one basket-case.

And they've done well - Rock en Seine 2010, on 27-29 August  in the Parc de Saint-Cloud on the edge of Paris, looks much more impressive than recent editions. Mainstream and alternative music fans alike will find much to enjoy.

That said, the first day doesn't appeal greatly to your indie-kid correspondent. Blink 182, of all people, top a bill of '90s nostalgia acts - Cypress Hill, Skunk Anansie and Underworld. Foals, The Kooks and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club fill out the field.

Day two makes up for it. True, the headliners are another '90s heritage act - Massive Attack - and a safe-hands rock band - Queens of The Stone Age. But LCD Soundsystem, Two Door Cinema Club (for their monthly French concert), Kele Okereke (of Bloc Party) and Jonsi (of Sigur Ros) bring a breeze of cool freshness that should clear the flatulent stink of Paolo Nutini.

On the third day: Arcade Fire, Roxy Music, Beirut, Eels and Wave Machines. Oh yes.

More acts will be revealed in June. At the time of writing, there are no French artists booked for Rock en Seine. None at all. No doubt a token 'new bands stage' will be cooked up for appearance's sake at least.

A weekend pass for the très tasty Rock en Seine 2010 costs a trifling €99, and can be booked online from FNAC and other French ticket-pushers. The festival site is at the end of a Paris metro line and even has the LUAS passing by. On-site camping is available for three-day passholders and must be booked online: €45 for a two-person tent-space and €90 for the four of you.

Full details, including online ticket and campsite reservations, are available in English and French at the Rock en Seine website.

No French acts yet, so for the moment this is as French as Rock en Seine gets - LCD Soundsystem's 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House':

More ...

[Read more...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

Conor O'Brien popped over to Paris last week, playing a solo set as support to Wild Beasts at the Maroquinerie.

Conor O'Brien/Villagers live at the Maroquinerie in Paris, April 2010

(As it happens, it was three years ago this week that his former band, The Immediate, played one of their last concerts at the same Paris venue.)

A packed house saw and heard the Villagers man (right) run through tracks from his forthcoming album, 'Becoming A Jackal'. O'Brien was armed with a three-quarter sized acoustic guitar that had the soundhole taped over, giving a dull yet warm effect.

However, the stripped-down show shone an unflattering light on O'Brien's material. With no backing or arrangements, his songs sound like typical Irish male singer-songer fare - hook-free tunes and laboured lyrics. In particular, O'Brien's words stood out for unforgiving attention. He seems too fond of the rhyming dictionary - for example, there's a "shackles/jackals" groaner and one of his female characters is called Laurie only because the next line's rhyme is "life story".

Elsewhere it's all tired emotional shorthand like 'truth' and 'love' and 'light', delivered by O'Brien with grimaces, closed eyes and a Hansard-esque quiet-to-loud delivery. There's no room for an emotional response from the listener - O'Brien's facial contortions and facile lyrics tell us what we should be feeling.

Villagers are being hailed by some as the next big Irish thing. However, on the evidence of this acoustic set and the full-band recordings O'Brien is more like Whelan's lock-in version 2.0.

Earlier in the week, O'Brien was in London to appear on 'Later...' with Jools Holland. From that show, here's Villagers with 'Becoming A Jackal':

More ...

[Read more...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

Two Door Cinema Club aren't the only Ulster band making a big impression in France this season.

And So I Watch You From Afar live in concert

Choice-nominated Belfast post-rock foursome And So I Watch You From Afar (right) have done their Gallic chances no harm at all after a storming show at the Flèche d'Or in Paris last Wednesday.

The previous title-holder in rocking the Flèche was Ted Leo, whose shuddering 2007 juggernaut of a show can still be heard echoing in the toilets. ASIWYFA smacked down the gauntlet with a set that was loud, swaggering and uproarious fun.

Fun is the key. Post-rock can be cold and cerebral; hard rock is often crass and cheap. But ASIWYFA-rock is built for jumping and roaring and headbanging and air-punching. The sizeable crowd, mostly French as far as we could hear, went mad.

It helps, of course, that ASIWYFA come across as committed and likeable. Rory Friers flung himself around the stage and even down the front of the crowd. And the impish Tony Wright seemed genuinely chuffed at the ecstatic reaction of the Paris crowd. Two songs in and he thanked the crowd for coming: "Merci pour l'arrivée!" - which actually means "Thanks for the finishing line!"

Fortunately, there was a whole night of rocking out ahead - and ASIWYFA will certainly go a long way further in France.

No footage from the Flèche online yet, so here are And So I Watch You From Afar at the Damnation Festival in Leeds last year with 'If It Ain't Broke, Break It'. Rock!

More ...

[Read more...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

Glastonbury Pyramid StageThe lineup for Glastonbury 2010 was announced yesterday and it's a whopper (as you'd expect for  the 40th anniversary of the festival). Over the 3 days of the festival there are 285 different musical acts scheduled to perform (and that's not even counting the acts earmarked for the "Poetry and Words" stage).

Playing are Muse, U2, Vampire Weekend, Flaming Lips, Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Pet Shop Boys, Orbital, MGMT, Midlake, The xx, The National, Editors, Grizzly Bear and Broken Social Scene. And the list goes on...

[Aside: Having managed last Sunday morning to secure one of the last tickets to Glasto 2010, I do be terribly exicited]. 

However what's disappointing is the Irish delegation at the festival. Yes, U2 are headlining on the Pyramid stage on the Friday night (and could well deliver a highlight of the festival, it being their first time in over 20 years to deliver a full set without any visual gimmickery in front an outdoor crowd) but otherwise you have to dig very deep to find Irish acts.

As far as I can see there are, in addition to U2, only 8 other Irish acts in the entire lineup (or 9 if your definition of Irish stretches to including Rodrigo y Gabriela). And half of those (The Saw Doctors, Christy Moore, Brian Kennedy and Ash) could not credibly be held up as representative examples of where the Irish music scene is today. 

So what's the reason behind this? Well I have no clue. Is it that the more recent waves of Irish acts are not selling themselves hard enough to the Glasto promoters? Or are they doing so, but the promoters are not interested? Or does the best of Irish scene not cut the mustard for such a prestigious festival? Or some mix of the above? Any insights out there?

Here are the Irish acts confirmed so far for Glasto 2010:

  • U2
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • Brian Kennedy
  • Julie Feeney
  • Ash
  • Christy Moore
  • Imelda May (who is actually playing two gigs at Glasto 2010)
  • The Saw Doctors
  • Fionn Regan

More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Blogs, Promenade
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

A review of the album 'Go' by Jonsi

Jonsi - GoReview Snapshot: The falsetto flaunting front man of Sigur Rós embarks on a solo career with ‘Go’, an inspired nine track record swelling with more enthusiasm and optimistic sentiment than a Christian choir on Prozac.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review: It is hard to believe, but it will be thirteen years this August since Sigur Rós released their debut album Von. And it is even harder to believe just how successful the Icelandic group have become over that time, given their tendencies towards long, drawn out musical progressions and vocals sung either in Icelandic or, more commonly, a made up jargon. And yet there was something in Agaetis Byrjun (1999) and in particular Takk (2005) that seemed to strike a chord with music followers of various tastes, leading to impressive album sales and well attended tours. But with the news earlier this year that the band were on hiatus, it seemed that such patrons would have to look elsewhere for their belly warming melodies (and that RTÉ would have to seek out a new source of dramatic musical accompaniment to their sports advertisements).

Enter Jonsi Birgisson.
Even without his band behind him, Jonsi creates quite a large sound. This is due largely to the involvement of composer Nico Muhly, who brings a stirring orchestral energy to the process. Last year Jonsi released an album with partner Alex as ‘Riceboy Sleeps’. Although it was a moving experience, the album was notable for its lack of vocals, which was unusual, given that Jonsi’s voice is arguably the most potent ingredient in the entire Sigur Rós mixing pot. Fortunately, order is restored with ‘Go’ and we can once more marvel at one of the finest, gender deceiving voices in popular music.
Album openers ‘Go Do’ and ‘Animal Arithemtic’ are so lively and genuinely heartfelt that you cannot help but be drawn into the singer’s utopian convictions. And for once we can understand what he is singing about as most of the album was written in English. It is difficult to know whether this is such a good thing. Perhaps the predominant allure of Sigur Rós – and maybe all wordless ambient music - is the blank canvas that such ambiguity affords us, leaving us free to make of it what we will. It doesn’t help either that in the very first song the lyrics include “Tie Strings to Clouds” and “Make your own lake - let it flow”. Followed in the next song by a chorus of “We should all be oh alive”, which makes Jonsi Birgisson sound like a six year old, so unnaturally good natured that he could only exist in Bala-f**king-mory.
And yet that is exactly what makes the album great. The gloriously innocent lyrics and rousing musical pieces are enough to win over even the most cynical of listeners. ‘Tornado’ is one of the albums more subdued and somber numbers and seems to bring the singer down a bit, so he launches into “Boy Lilikoi” and we are returned to a state of inspirational frenzy.
In short, the album is a joyous celebration of nature, relationships and life, beautifully crafted by one of the most influential artists of the last decade.

Kevin Boyle

More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

A review of the album 'WHB' by We Have Band

We Have Band - WHBReview Snapshot: Three ex record label employees band together to produce an album with the dancefloor firmly in mind… The debut offering from two-boy, one-girl London-based trio We Have Band draws on an impressive array of influences, the result being an 80s-infused brand of modern day mix n’ match pop. Slick production and catchy melodies mean that WHB is an album which will command attention. With killer singles and a strong supporting cast of tracks, We Have Band are definitely ones to watch as we approach the summer festival season.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review: Winners of the Emerging Talent Competition at 2009’s Glastonbury Festival, disco-rockers We Have Band have gradually garnered a lot of attention in the run-up to their debut release. The back story alone is enough to intrigue – three ex-employees of EMI, with little experience between them, decide to get together to make an album free of record label influence. Two years (and a lot of buzz) later, the debut offering from We Have Band has landed. 

WHB kicks off with mundane opening track ‘Piano’, serving as a prelude to an equally bland ‘Buffet’ – both tracks in stark contrast with the energetic nature of what follows. Thankfully, recent single ‘Divisive’ is on hand to pick up the pace and get the WHB party started. It is ‘Divisive’ along with other previously released singles ‘Honeytrap’ and ‘You Came Out’ that are the obvious highlights - however, the infectious beats of tracks such as ‘Love, What You Doing?’ and ‘How To Make Friends’ really compliment the singles as part of the bigger picture of the album in its entirety. 2008 release ‘Oh!’ stands the test of time, just as enjoyable as it was first time around. And in spite of the slow start, it’s clear this is an album which has dancefloors firmly set in its sights.
What is most interesting about We Have Band is that they make no secret of the inspiration behind the music they make – the spirit of Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, New Order and even The Human League permeate the album from beginning to end. Easy comparisons can be made to modern-day counterparts such as Hot Chip, The Rapture, and New Young Pony Club. Yet in spite of the obvious influences and likenesses, the trio have still managed to carve out their own striking originality. 
Overall, WHB is flawed - but by no means disappointing. A promising debut from a band who will undoubtedly delight revellers when they take this album on tour across the European festival circuit this summer.  

Elaine Buckley

More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |

You might remember our former blogging colleague Key Notes and his epic Dublin Marathon run last year. (Sample sentence: "It was now all about ignoring the pain in my right knee (akin to replacing your knee joint with a testicle and running on it for 12 or so miles), and just finishing the race.")

This year, all the CLUAS long-distance running responsibility fell on the shoulders of your Seine-side correspondent. And so this morning your blogger ran in the Paris Marathon for the second time. (You'll remember that Joe Strummer once ran the Paris Marathon, as well as the London equivalent twice.)

The 2010 Paris Marathon setting off down the Champs-Elysées.

The course is quite impressive - starting on the Champs-Elysées, out the rue de Rivoli past Bastille, a tour of the Bois de Vincennes, back into town along the river past the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, then through the Bois de Boulogne and home on the Avenue Foch, just behind the Arc de Triomphe. The route is relatively flat - there's no long uphill drag to compare with the notorious Milltown-Clonskeagh stretch of the Dublin Marathon. And the weather - sunny but not too warm - was great.

Your correspondent, mindful of being your representative in Paris, ran hard and well. For many Parisian women watching the race, it was their first time seeing a real man - medical services performed many corset-loosening procedures along the route.

There was a musical aspect to the marathon - every mile or so a live band or DJ provided motivational tunes. Things began badly: the race started to the inane shouting of Black Eyed Peas. Fortunately, the very first live act was a brass band playing Blondie's 'Atomic' - this set the scene for a pop-tastic marathon.

Most of the live music came from samba groups or brass bands, both great for the spirits. Just before halfway, one brass band was playing 'Thriller', which sounded fun. A French rock band was murdering 'One' by U2, inspiring us to dash out of earshot.

But our abiding musical memory of the 2010 Paris Marathon is an unlikely yet inspired tune. Two miles from home, along a seemingly-endless stretch through the Bois de Boulogne, we passed a loudspeaker blaring out a disco-pop song you wouldn't associate with long-distance running - 'In Private' by Dusty Springfield. Now, both of Dusty's parents were from Tralee, your blogger's home town, and even at the height of her popularity she performed there. As well as that, it's a cracking song - one of several classy singles she made with the Pet Shop Boys.

So, for all you marathon runners out there, here's the erstwhile Mary O'Brien, first-generation Kerrywoman, with the excellent 'In Private':

More ...

[Read more...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
Page 11 of 132First   Previous   6  7  8  9  10  [11]  12  13  14  15  Next   Last   

Search Articles

Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.