The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Last Saturday was another rough night at the Stade de France for Irish sport, as our rugby team lost badly to a French side that's good but hardly great. Your correspondent was there, shivering with cold and shuddering in despair beside the visiting CLUAS Album Review Air Traffic Controller (in Paris for an inspection of operations at Chateau French Letter).

As ever, though, national pride has been restored by Ireland's pop stars - always good for the Seine-side win that ever eludes our football and rugby heroes.

We mention regularly here Les Inrockuptibles, the weekly music and culture magazine with a quintessentially French taste for florid prose. Die-hard devotees of The Divine Comedy, in recent times Les Inrocks have given the rave to Duke Special, Carly Sings and Adrian Crowley.

French revolutions per minute: Magic RPM, February 2010

Another music publication carried at all times in our CLUAS Foreign Correspondent Diplomatic Pouch is Magic RPM (right). A monthly magazine devoted entirely to alternative music, its title acronym stands for 'Revue Pop Moderne'. Modern pop: yes, please!

Magic RPM is excellent. For one thing, their writers have some strange trick of writing French prose that's simple yet intelligent and witty. Also, the magazine's review section has ambitious scope - the February edition has a whopping 66 albums getting substantive and considered critiques.

Two of this month's sixty-six are Irish - Fionn Regan's 'The Shadow Of An Empire' and 'Tourist History' by Two Door Cinema Club. Each gets a fair and informed review that backs up the final rating (out of six, rather idiosyncratically).

First up, Fionn Regan. Reviewer Vincent Théval falls in with the general reaction to the Wicklow man's second album - a comparison to Dylan going electric. He isn't impressed by the opening songs, calling them "a set of knives without a blade".

However, the man from Magic RPM much prefers the record's home stretch, in particular "a trio of sublime ballads": 'Little Nancy', 'Lord Help My Poor Soul' and the title track.

A 'non' to the first half and 'oui' to the second - that makes a final score of three out of six for Fionn Regan, with the consolation of high praise for a handful of tracks. If you read French, check out the full review here.

Two Door Cinema Club also receive an obvious comparison from their reviewer, Thomas Schwoerer, who reckons the "excellent" single 'Something Good Can Work' "sounds like Phoenix south of the equator". (That'll be an allusion to Vampire Weekend's world-pop, then.) The review praises the Down lads for their "sense of catchy melody and killer chorus" that delivers an album "to bring a smile to the lips". Overall, Schwoerer remarks on the band's "naive and juvenile" sound but ultimately finds in favour of "these three boys that we'll surely hear a lot this year".

And the scores? Four out of six for Two Door Cinema Club, continuing their successful experience in France. Unfortunately, the full review isn't online.

So, plenty of much-merited positive comments for the two Irish acts in Magic RPM this month. G'wan Oirland! Here's Fionn Regan with the unquestionably Dylan-goes-electric 'Protection Racket':

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Nuggets from our archive

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited to read this very article.