The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


boa morte dial waltz

Artist: Boa Morte
Release: The Dial Waltz (album)
County of Origin:  Cork
Genre:  Downbeat Alt Folk
The Freshly Squeezed Rating: 8.5  drops out of 10

When I began to listen to this release, my first thought was that the music was too modest, that the band only needed to expand a little, to muster a little courage and to come out with a really powerful album. Having listened to it a number of times, however (and it definitely needs time) I've decided this band is perfectly mature: their style isn't assuming, but it's still very powerful, in its own slow but momentous way. Citing Neil Young and Leonard Cohen as their influences, they remind me of a melancholic Yusuf Islam.

Boa Morte formed in Cork in 1998, but haven't released anything for a number of years. It seems that they were planning to release this current album five years ago; why they've been delayed until now is a mystery. Judging by their music, though, this band isn't one inclined to rush things.

'The Dial Waltz' is more poetry than mere music. The lyrics take centre stage, and although the music is enjoyable, it's really more of a vehicle for the lyrics than an end in itself, and especially the drums seem to be replicated in a few songs. Nonetheless, this band is definitely one I'll keep on my iPod. Look out for 'Luminous Plankton' and 'Tears on a Full Moon', my favourites on the album.

Boa Morte released 'The Dial Waltz' in May of this year. Their Myspace can be found here. We presume that they'll be gigging over the summer: watch this space for up-to-date information.

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Recently news flooded into my e-mail inbox about the imminent closure of Road Records, the independent music shop based in Fade Street in Dublin City. The following e-mail has been sent out to all subscribers to their mailing list:

"How do I begin a piece like this, without repeating everything I wrote nearly two years ago now.

I suppose I would have to say its with great sadness to inform you we are finally closing the doors of Road Records.

Its been a difficult two years since we first faced the prospects of closure and we have literally worked night and day to try and see if we could save the shop and make it a viable business again. The current economic situation in this country added to the many problems we faced in the past have finally caught up with us and we can no longer sustain this little shop.

This time, I am sad to say, there is no alternative for us, we have literally tried everything in our powers to keep this place operating and nothing has worked for us. It hasn’t been an easy decision to make, if anything its even more difficult than two years ago, we have had amazing support from people but nothing we do seems to work anymore.

With debts beginning to build again Julie and myself have finally decided that we cannot take any more risks personally and before things get any worse we will have to finally walk away from the shop for the last time.

I have to say I still have no regrets about the last 13 years, its been a real blast and a pleasure to be here over the years. We have met some amazing people and have become friends with some truly amazing bands. The level of support we have received since last year has been truly mindblowing but so much has changed economically since then that its just not possible to sustain such a small record shop like this anymore.

I am not going to give out about the music business this time around, its just one of those things and we have finally come to a stage where I think the days of the small indie store are numbered. It’s sad to have to admit that but this time I think its true, we can’t blame digital sales, illegal downloading etc, the world is a changing place and I can’t see any room in it for kooky little indie stores like ourselves.

We will be starting our closing down sale this Saturday 17th of July and everything will be on sale at a 25% reduction. We will be open for just one more week after that with the final day being Saturday 24th of July. Literally everything will be going on sale so if you want to pick up a cheap stereo, cash register or stapler, then do drop in.

We would both like to thank each and everyone of you for your support over the years, maybe we will catch up at some point in the future.

We would also like to thank all our wonderful staff from the last 14 years, in person they are – Dylan, Jonny, Jimmy, Gib, Colm, John, Chip and Aengus.

As for what we will do next, the honest answer is we really don’t know, hopefully we can pay off any debts we have and then at least we have a beautiful little baby boy to try and put a smile back on our faces.

Thanks & Adios

Dave and Julie"

Only last year Road Records announced they’d be closing, and discussed this difficult decision with former CLUAS blogger Steven O’Rourke in this informative interview. A large portion of bands within the Irish music scene grouped together to host a benefit night at Andrew's Lane Theatre. It seemed this saved the shop, but evidently it was only temporary.

Illegal downloads and internet shopping have in a way ravaged the independent music industry. There are both pros and cons to the aforementioned issues, but it’s always the man on the ground i.e. the independent music shops who suffer. Road Records have for many years been an integral part of the Dublin music scene, both supporting and stocking releases from Irish bands.

Perhaps the most disheartening thing is my wondering “which shop will be next?” Road Records is my favourite music store in Dublin, a point which I made in my blog post about Record Store Day noting the enthusiasm with which Road Records embraced Record Store Day. It’s a shame to think that at next year’s Record Store Day there will be no Road Records participating, and it'll be very hard to find another independent music shop in Dublin to match Road Records.

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Milan JayAlbum: Mellow Funk
County of Origin: Galway
Genre: Mellowtronic
The Freshly Squeezed Rating: 6 drops out of 10

Milan Jay (is it really his name? Doubtful, but you never know) supposedly spent 18 months putting this, his debut album, together. I can't vouch for its originality - although in an interesting twist the artist proclaims that he isn't really into Electronic music, 'it's just what he came out with'. 

The album isn't bad, and in fact it's great background music, it has energy, and the artist himself has it spot on when he describes it as "music for 10 hours at 30,000 feet with nowhere to go and nothing to see but an endless blue sky". It's poppy, energetic and it'll put you in a good mood. Perfect for your jogging playlist. 

I think MJ has a lot of potential. The would-be hit on this album, A.I.H.I.D., is a genuinely strong track, and Farewell Hiroko, my own favourite, is ethereal and calmly euphoric. 

Mellow Funk can be listened to and downloaded for free here. Since you aren't paying a cent for it, I'd download it and have a listen - in the unlikely case that you don't like it, you've lost nothing. Milan Jay has promised us he'll be touring live and releasing a new single over the summer, so watch this space.

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Welcome to Freshly Squeezed Irish, the new CLUAS blog penned by Philip McDonald! The focus here will be on bringing you the best new Irish music you've never heard. Bands who would like to featured on this blog should drop Philip a line via this dedicated page. Be sure as well to sign up for the Freshly Squeezed Irish RSS feed!


Sweet Jane - Sugar for my Soul

Band: Sweet Jane
County of Origin: Dublin
Genre: Dreampop Rock 'n Roll
Album: Sugar For My Soul
The Freshly Squeezed rating?
 8 drops out of 10

"Sugar for my Soul" is a crisp, melodic album from a promising group. Sweet Jane, presumably named after the Velvet Underground song, have been getting rave reviews across the board - and this is no exception. With echoes of REM's vocals and The Edge's guitar, their airy, bright sound is infused with country and rock 'n' roll. In fact, their self-descriptor, "dreampop rock 'n' roll", despite sounding contrived, is surprisingly accurate. The almost-title track, "Something For My Soul", is extremely catchy.

Sweet Jane have been around for around two years, releasing an EP in 2008, touring throughout 2009. They have just released this, their first LP, a surprisingly mature piece of work for such a recent band.
Look out especially for "Save a Little Place", which seems to be a subtle tribute to "All I Have to Do Is Dream" by the Everly Brothers. With quirks like this, and a hidden track (better not give the game away by saying where it is), it's obvious that this album is deeply thought-out, as well as being plain good. 

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Björk - Volta, worst album of the last 5 years?A few days I pulled together the list of the highest rated albums of those reviewed on CLUAS in the last 5 years. Now it's the turn of those albums that in the same period got the lowest ratings from CLUAS reviewers. The albums listed below are those that, since 2005, have been awarded less than 4 out of 10 by a CLUAS writer. Among them you will find albums by Placebo, Van Morrison, Smashing Pumpkins, Mercury Rev and James Blunt. 

So what album was considered to be the worst of those reviewed on CLUAS? Well the honour falls into the lap of Björk whose 2007album Volta was awarded a grand total of zero out of 10 by CLUAS writer Rev Jules. It was a divisive assessment if the comments below the review are anything to go by.

Here comes the full list...

Topping the list with a rating of zero out of 10...

1 out of 10

2 out of 10

2.5 out of 10

3 out of 10

3.5 out of 10

...and scraping in with a score just below 4 out of 10...

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The Courtyard Hounds' debut album
A review of the The Courtyard Hounds debut album Review Snapshot: Emily Robison and Martie Maguire – formerly of the Dixie Chicks are now recording new music under the moniker ‘Co...

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The CLUAS Archives There are over 500 album reviews in the CLUAS archives. While they've always been accessible via our archive pages, the way the reviews have been presented (one big long unordered list of reviews for each year) is not very user friendly. Which is a pity as there are some terrific reviews in there, as well as reviews of great albums that may have slipped under one's radar. Thankfully the chances of missing out on some such gems over the years has now decreased dramatically. Read on for the fabulous details...

The CLUAS album archive pages have now been reorganised to ensure that our album reviews are listed, for each year, in order of the rating that the reviewer gave the album out of 10. Is that a collective 'Wow' I hear?

Anyways. What's interesting to see is the albums that came out on the top of the pile each year. Most of the top ranking albums are solid but some are, ehhm, let's just say "curious". Below are listed the very top ranking albums (i.e. albums that scored 8.5 or more out of 10) as reviewed by CLUAS writers from 2005 to 2009. Are these the best albums of that period? Certainly not, although many are gems that will stand the test of time. One thing for sure is that the list of albums and their accompanying reviews make for interesting reading.

So what was the top rated album released between 2005 and 2009, according to the CLUAS writers? The answer is, of course, obvious. It has to be the, ehh, all time classic 'Holiday Mix 2005' released by DFA Records.... Read on for even more mind-bending insights revealed in the list (including releases by 10 Irish acts).

10 out of 10

9.5 out of 10

9 out of 10

Between 8.5 and 9 out of 10

8.5 out of 10

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Today is the end of the 40th Glastonbury festival, and as the tour buses trundle out of the otherwise sleepy village of Pilton in Somerset and the massive clean-up gets underway in Worthy Farm I return to my yearly Glastonbury routine which I’m sure I share with many.

This routine consists of me watching Glastonbury footage and becoming increasingly green-eyed with every guitar chord emanating from the Pyramid Stage and cursing myself for not being there. So in an effort of consolation I resolve to go the next year and religiously follow the Glastonbury updates throughout the year. But then the year passes and I miss the festival yet again. This routine is repeated yearly, and I will eventually get to Glastonbury even if it means riding a tractor through Pilton and accosting Michael Eavis himself.

Having previously housed such iconic acts as T. Rex, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Blur and Oasis it’s become a British musical institution. And this year while the cows were grazing in fields at a safe distance from drunken revellers and overly confident rockstars the Pyramid stage was graced by Gorillaz, Muse and Stevie Wonder respectively.

As per usual the festival was very successful, and I’m sure there are Glastonbury survivors all around England nursing the mother of all hangovers to choruses of “It was worth it, completely worth it” and questioning if anything they saw throughout the weekend really happened. The general consensus is that the more outlandish and surreal the memory, the more likely it is it that it really did happen.

I’m sure Damon Albarn is very pleased to have headlined Glastonbury two years in a row, albeit in different bands. So, as the beginning of summer has been marked with the always eclectic Glastonbury festival I’m going to sign up for every Glastonbury festival mailing list possible.  Because I’ll be there next year, I swear.

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John Lennon had a tormented childhood. At the age of 5 his parents made him decide who he wanted to live with - his father Alf who was moving to New Zealand, or his mother Julia who was to remain in Liverpool. John chose Alf, but as his mother was leaving he ran after her and ultimately chose her. His Aunt Mimi then reported his mother to Social Services, so he remained with Mimi instead.

Aged 17 his mother was hit by a car and died near her home. It’s often been said that the absence of his father and the death of his mother at a young age contributed to Lennon’s seeming inability to deal with confrontation and responsibility in his personal life and caused him to undergo therapy in his later years.

The BBC 4 film ‘Lennon Naked’ explores this side of Lennon. It begins with Lennon in his adulthood, continuing where Sam Taylor-Wood’s ‘Nowhere Boy’ left off. Some footage of when Beatlemania began to take hold was interspersed throughout the opening scenes, black and white film of girls screaming wildly and declaring their love while the suitably pleased 20-something musicians are lapping up the attention.

Before long the film delves into the world of Lennon while with his first wife Cynthia. She’s portrayed as a nagging, emotional woman who has doe-eyed look across her face every time she tries to reason with him. Meanwhile Lennon is shown to be moody towards his wife and unhappy with her boxing him in and limiting his creativity. A barrel of laughs this certainly isn’t.

As the film progresses the constant carelessness of the character of Lennon grows tiresome, and the film is awash with some less-than-convincing actors. Paul McCartney, played by Andrew Scott, sounded like he had a comedy voice throughout, his deep nasally tones sounding more Little Britain than Liverpudlian. The slight appearances made by the actors playing George Harrison (Jack Morgan) and Ringo Starr (Craig Cheetham) were blighted by their comedic moustaches and, particularly in the case of Paul, drawn on eyebrows.

The film is exactly as it was described, it was a drama. A drama that gives little insight or enjoyment to your average Beatles fan, the characters seem to have derived some acting advice from the cast of Eastenders. It’s a shame because the lead actor, Christopher Eccleston, who played John Lennon, gave an excellent performance, but the lack of any progression in the character of Lennon and the dreary and constantly unhappy portrayal of him offered no insight or development in his character.

Ultimately all this film taught me, from the soundtrack, is that The Beatles had a song for every occasion.  And right now after watching the film I feel like I Should Have Known Better.

  • If you'd like to make your own verdict on the film it will be aired again tonight on BBC4 at 10pm.

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Jack Johnson 'To The Sea'
A review of Jack Johnson's album 'To the Sea' Review Snapshot: Jack Johnson - famous for his soft, laid back sound and how he’s the perfect accompanist for a holiday - has r...

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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.