The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

22
 
The girls are pretty, distinctively Tibetan and like to braid their hair. Halama is a suitably Tibetan choice of name. Lights and synthesizers. It’s one of the latest surges of Tibet fashionability in mainland China. Three bands are doing the rounds of Chinese cities, singing in restaurants and Tibet-themed bars to mostly Han Chinese.
Some sing in Mandarin too.

Tibetan bands have been coming to Chinese cities for years but last year’s opening of the Beijing-Lhasa railroad has revived the interest in all things Tibetan among Han Chinese. Tibetan barley wine, traditional medicine and even Tibetan beer, "from the roof of the world." Songs about love and loss in the highlands, sung in the blue-yellow-red colours of Tibetan costumes. There’s also a few Tibetan rock bands on the road. Most have been kindly received though not admired by critics.

 

 


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21

Smart lyrics, neat sitar lick, nice groove; whats not to like about HyBrasil's latest tune, "God Bless The Devil". Here's the video for your enjoyment.


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20

The talk of Paris this week is cycling. Not le Tour, though, but le  Velib' - the new public bikes introduced by the mairie (city hall) last Sunday, following the example of Lyon (where the scheme has been in place for a couple of years).

All around the city, at intervals of a few hundred metres, there are rows of bikes, available to use for a subscription of €1 daily, €5 weekly or €29 for a year. The first half hour use is free but then you must pay €1 for the next half hour, and so on. A €150 deposit dissuades you from keeping or trashing the velo.

With such charges, the scheme is aimed more at short-hop commuters rather than tourists. Still, technically it's possible to cycle free for a whole day - if you change bicycles every half hour. Strategic planning comes in handy.

As it happens, most of Paris is within 20 minutes cycling range - from the Arc de Triomphe to the Bastille (the west-east axis) is fairly flat, but Montmartre and Saint Michel are on hills. In particular, cycling up Montmartre would be a bit of a slog - the bikes (right) are built to be durable and at 22kg are quite heavy as well as being unattractive. And all are girls' bikes!

Also, Parisian drivers are notoriously homicidal, and there aren't many cycle lanes in the city centre.

Still, the initial take-up has been a huge success and everyone is talking about using them this summer. Look out for them next time you visit Paris.

Could something similar work in Dublin, Cork, Belfast or Galway?


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18

Until 2007, the idea of an Irish film about surfing was, well, rather like a Jamaican film about bob sleighing but now a new wave of Irish filmmakers, all with close links to Ireland's surfing community have stepped forward to commit a serious, new vision of surfing to celluloid that is far removed from Hollywood's sunlit Malibu centric image of the sport.

Firstly, there is surfer Naomi Britton's elegaic and poetic tale of the early days of Irish surfing, 'The Silver Surfari' which premiered in March and has been touring the country to packed audiences prior to a television broadcast.

Next up is Gavin Gallagher's, "And Then The Wind Died...", which documents the discovery and surfing of Ireland's big wave beast Aileens off the Cliffs of Moher, a wave that is akin to the monster surf of Waimea Bay. The film premieres at the Cois Fharraige Music festival in September.

Finally, there is Joel Conroy's big budget, 'Wave Riders', which interweaves an account of the advent of tow surfing in Ireland with the life story of Irish American surfing pioneer George Freeth.

Taken together, these films offer a comprehensive account of Irish surfing, where it came from, where it is right now and where it is going. Sound Waves applauds these young filmmakers and encourages the patrons of Cluas to seek out these films, if only to enjoy the often glorious music used on their soundtracks.

 


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18

 

One of the worst things about living in Dublin is that you become very lazy when it comes to finding new music. In my defence, it’s possible to go into town almost any night of the week and find a decent gig without very much effort at all. Recently though, as a result of writing this blog, I have decided to spread my musical wings in an attempt to unearth some musical treasures from the rest of the country.

For the first in this "Beyond the Pale" series of blogs, I’m going to start with Westmeath, a county, according to Wikipedia at least, famous for cattle, lakes, pewter and élan. Famous Westmeath people include Michael O’Leary and the man with the largest collection of female underwear in Ireland, Joe Dolan.

However, you’ll be glad to know that Westmeath has much more to offer Irish music than dodgy cover versions of Blur songs. My Fallen Empire are a seven-piece band capable of sounding like your favourite song and yet nothing you’ve ever heard before. I had the pleasure of supporting My Fallen Empire in a previous life and the sheer verve that Eddie Keenan and co. put into their live performances is something to behold. Currently writing and recording for their debut album, My Fallen Empire have almost limitless potential. Hopefully, 2007 will see that potential come to fruition.

Another of Westmeath’s rising stars is Peter Doran, described to me by one music insider as "the greatest songwriter Ireland has ever produced!" While I’m not quite in agreement as yet, there is a certain magical quality about Doran’s music that sets him apart from every other guy with a guitar and a tune. Of course, as with all the best singer-songwriters, Doran benefits from the band he surrounds himself with; Gerard Toal (Cello) and Johnny Owens (Violin) deserving particular credit. That being said it is Doran himself who writes the songs and his debut album "Wood" showcases his aptitude in this regards with the aforementioned "Wood" and "Treasure Chest" being the two best examples of his undoubted talents.

Below is a live version of "Wood" for your enjoyment.

 

 

Who am I missing?  Does Westmeath have any more musicians/bands I should know about? If you know of any, please spread the word by commenting below.


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17

Cornelius 'Sensuous'Review Snapshot:
Anyone coming to Cornelius' new record in the hope of hearing 'Fantasma'-esque spaced-out pop thrills will be sorely disappointed. 'Sensuous' is an album of sonic experimentation and 'harmonic dissonance' which is every bit as pretentious and unlistenable as that suggests.

The CLUAS Verdict?  3 out of 10

Full Review:
Japanese indie-tronic artist Cornelius is a big pop star in his native country. Here in Europe he's a cult figure best known for his 1997 album 'Fantasma', a wonderful blend of Beach Boys-worshipping  psychedelic pop and spaced-out electronica. Irish music fans will also remember a now-legendary double-bill with The Flaming Lips at the Olympia in 1999.

His new album, however, will not live as long in our memories. As far removed from pop songs as possible, 'Sensuous' is a self-indulgent album of experimental noodling with aspirations of being a cutting-edge work of sonic art. In reality, it's no such thing.

For all its liner-note claims of being 'la musique du 21eme siecle', this album sounds horribly dated. In fact, most of the tracks sounds like turgid new-style jazz from the 1980s - 'Fit Song, 'Breezing' and 'Toner' stink with supper-club guitars and slapped funk-bass. You might find these tracks fresh and challenging if your favourite piece of music is the theme from 'Seinfeld'.

Elsewhere, in the title track and 'Like A Rolling Stone' there are ambient atmospherics - in other words, the sort of electronic elevator music that commonly passes for art-house movie soundtracks where an existential anti-hero are lost in some futuristic Asian metropolis.

The only interesting parts are those which sound like other records. 'Beep It' starts off with Kraftwerk-style electronica before Cornelius gives in to those funk-jazz cravings and almost ruins the whole thing.

As for album-closers 'Music' and 'Sleep Warm' (the latter a cover of a tune made famous by Dean Martin), they are gentle acoustic pop songs with electronic flourishes - all reminiscent of Cornelius' own 'Fantasma'. Such is that album's difference to this one that it may well have been made by a different artist.

Aidan Curran

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.


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17

In August, Paris is relatively deserted. Parisians and tourists alike all make for the beaches and campsites, leaving the city free for those staying in the city. Except for the last weekend of the month, that is, when the place gets flooded with pop stars for the Rock En Seine festival on 24-26 August.

Just a short ride on the metro out of the centre of Paris (and for your blogger a direct bus line from apartment door to venue gate), the picturesque Parc de Saint Cloud is on the banks of the Seine.

Almost as attractive as the setting is the line-up: all three days feature indie-big-hitters and cult heroes. Friday's headliners are Arcade Fire, appearing at their millionth French festival this summer (it's now a running joke for French music fans: 'mon Dieu, not Arcade Fire again!' Also on Friday are Mogwai, The Hives, Dinosaur Jr, Dizzee Rascal, Biffy Clyro and Unkle, and others.

Tool and the reformed Jesus And Mary Chain top Saturday's bill, but the real treat will be our fellow Paris-resident Jarvis Cocker. There'll also be some CSS, Amy Winehouse and Fratellis that day.

Finally, Sunday's star turn is Bjork, following up what was by all accounts a fantastic Glastonbury appearance by her. Kings of Leon, Enter Shikari and Bat For Lashes are also appearing that day.

The full line-up is:

Friday 24 August: Arcade Fire, The Hives, Emilie Simon, 2 Many DJ's, Dinosaur Jr, Albert Hammond Jr, Mogwai, Dizzee Rascal, M.I.A., Unkle, The Shins, Noisettes, Biffy Clyro

Saturday 26 August: Tool, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Les Rita Mitsouko, CSS, Alpha, Erik Truffaz, Jarvis Cocker, Amy Winehouse, The Fratellis, Puppetmastaz, Terry Poison, Hellogoodbye

Sunday 27 August: Björk, Kings Of Leon, Faithless, Craig Armstrong, Just Jack, Kelis, Bromheads Jackets, Patrick Wolf, Enter Shikari, Devotchka, Bat for Lashes

A three-day pass for all that costs just €98.00, a one-day ticket costs €42 and a single metro ticket costs €1.40. Booking and further info in English are available on the Rock En Seine website.

Of the festival's French acts, the most notable names are '80s cult heroes Les Rita Mitsuoko (more on them in another post), our faves Pravda - and Emilie Simon, whose 2006 album 'Vegetal' was a smashing bit of electro-pop (and certainly the greatest ever concept album about plants). Here's the extravagant video for the wonderful rock-out of 'Fleur De Saison', one of our top French tunes of last year:


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17

I can’t remember when it first started, but it appears that in the not too distant past all the musicians in the world got together in a room and decided it was suddenly okay for them to sell their music to the highest bidder and promote everything and anything in the hope that it would take their music to a wider audience.

Surely though when musicians, indie or otherwise, start pimping themselves to the advertising industry they should start devising business plans and hosting AGM’s as well?  Music is supposed to be an art from, but when was the last time you heard anyone talk about ‘the art business’ or ‘the literature business?’ It doesn’t happen because it shouldn’t happen. Art in all its forms should be pure, how else can you believe what the artist is trying to tell you. 

The late, great, Bill Hicks once said ‘Do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call, every word you say is suspect, you're a corporate whore and eh, end of story,’ and while I’m not saying that Hicks was always right (his views on smokers ‘rights’ I particularly disagree with) he makes a very valid point in this instance. I remember when I heard ‘The Shining’ by Badly Drawn Boy on the Kellogg Cornflakes ad. I remember because I haven’t been able to listen to a BDB song since without thinking about that ad and, therefore, his music has lost its appeal for me.

On the local scene two Irish bands have recently been gaining exposure from high profile television advertisements. Saso feature in the most recent Coors Light ad while The Laundry Shop provide the music for the new Discover Ireland spot with their song ‘Highs & Lows

 It’s actually The Laundry Shop that inspired this blog. I saw them support A Lazarus Soul recently and was enjoying their set until they finished with the aforementioned ‘Highs & Lows’. People who weren’t interested in a song they’d played all night suddenly paid attention. All well and good, but do The Laundry Shop really want to be known as ‘that band with that song, you know, from that ad?’

 Am I right to agree with The Beastie Boys when they state ‘Don't grease my palm with your filthy cash, multinationals spreading like a rash, I might stick around or I might be a fad but I won't sell my songs for no tv ad.’ Or should musicians use any means possible to promote themselves?


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17

Well, who would have thought when Sound Waves launched that we would find ourselves grasping the zeitgeist, however accidently, so it was with some delight that we found ourselves at the Village last night for the launch of Cois Fharragie. First things first, the confirmed 15 act line up includes Ocean Colour Scene, Delorentos, Paddy Casey, Tom Baxter, Badly Drawn Boy, Fun Loving Criminals, Kila and Republic of Loose. We worked it out that with tickets for the three days retailing at less than € 90.00 you are paying no more than € 5.63 per act and with the average ticket price for individual shows for acts of this size retailing at € 28.00 + booking fee thats got to be the bargain of the year. According to the press release, there will also be a three day surf contest run by the West Coast Surf Club, great gang and their annual Xmas party is a blast, so more details when we get them. The launch was good fun, my first by the way, free beer on tap although I was on the soft drinks as part of a training schedule, bummer dude and a great four song acoustic set by Ocean Colour Scene that ended with a wonderful sing along version of 'The Day We Took The Train'  with the audience in full voice. Nice ! We also got to see the first excerpts of Gavin Gallaghers eagerly awaited documentary on surfing the big wave of Aileens in County Clare, "And Then The Wind Died..." and I have to say the footage looks pretty tasty. All in all, a good launch and what looks like a neat little end of summer fest.


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16

The Cluas verdict? 1 out of 10

Egotistical, soulless rubbish.

Musiq Soulchild 'Luvanmusiq'

Described as soul, though clearly devoid of any, Musiq Soulchild's fourth album sees our hero address subjects that affect each and every one of us. On album opener B.U.D.D.Y for example, Musiq tries to persuade some random woman to become his 'f*@k buddy' by singing ‘sorry if I come off disrespectful but my convo is a little bit 2 sexual but damn it's incredible be a more flexible 'cause the context some text is a lil special’   Complete rubbish and yet it’s the ‘highlight’ of the album. What follows is an uninspiring mix of R & B and neo-soul, throughout which time the man born Talib Johnson laments the fact that he's having lots of sex, but has no one to love. It’s hard not to feel moved by his plight.

Forget Paris Hilton; forget the incompetent presidential incumbent; Luvanmusiq, the work of a narcissist completely lacking in talent, topping the Billboard 200 upon its release tells you everything you need to know about what’s wrong with American culture. It’s not even well produced, and for an R & B album that is unforgivable.   

Steven O'Rourke


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Nuggets from our archive

2002 - Interview with Rodrigo y Gabriela, by Cormac Looney. As with Damien Rice's profile, this interview was published before Rodrigo y Gabriela's career took off overseas. It too continues to attract considerable visits every month to the article from Wikipedia.