The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Anna Murray'

04

Day Two of Castlepalooza 2009

Robotnik

Review Snapshot: The expected rain finally hit Castlepalooza on Sunday, though it did little to dampen spirits that were still high from the day before, while the second day saw some of the best performances of the weekend.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
The Hot Sprockets, mostly dull though they were, had one gift: the ability to make the crowd forget that the rain had begun. Having paid far too much attention to the style and music of early Kings of Leon (the hairy days), they are nevertheless one of the few bands in Ireland at the moment whose main ethos is good naturedness and fun, making their show pretty enjoyable if not groundbreaking. In fact, they probably couldn’t be more different from the band that followed in the HMV tent: the quite frankly bizarre Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands. Dark, strange, and accompanied by a table of electronic instruments and gadgets – and an accordion – Patrick Kelleher and his band give the impression of people who have spent too much time together in a small room with little contact with the outside world. That doesn’t make them any less brilliant, his strange gothic-tinged music beautiful.

Sandwiched between Kelleher and Le Galaxie were the 202s, another band who made use of electronic backing tracks, though unlike Skibunny, they at least had the ability to capitalise on them. The 202’s are all catchy songs and varying sounds, and one to keep an eye on. Le Galaxie, as ever, proved themselves one of the strongest live forces doing the Dublin circuit at the moment. Their sound may be all power, created by discrete layers, but their strength really lies in their ability to interact with the crowd, at once terrifying the people in the front row by practically jumping on top of them and involving those at the back. The combined energy of any of the bands on Castlepalooza’s first day was nothing compared with the buzz from the crowd in the HMV tent for those 40 minutes.

The Chapters...well, the Chapters were alright, it's difficult to say much more than that. Inexplicably, the songs on their album, released earlier this year, are already beginning to sound dated, but unlike most acts over the weekend, the majority of their audience at least knew the songs. Robotnik, also on the Main Stage, proved to be my final act of the night, and though followed by Channel One and Noise Control, made a fantastic closing act. Though visibly nervous and unused to the imposed distance between himself and the audience, Chris Morrin quickly warmed to the situation, immersing himself in his usual antics and bizarre stage behaviour, including pelting the audience with bread during a version of Pat the Baker. To merely say Robotnik is quirky is to sell short his ability to entertain, entrance and of course create great music, strange though it might be.

Anna Murray


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04

Day One of Castlepalooza 2009

Castlepalooza

Review Snapshot: The first day of this boutique festival was a mixed bag, a kind of rollercoaster tour of today's Irish indie. Altogether a great night, with just one or two low points.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
This reviewer has always had a kind of love/hate relationship with Castlepalooza: though in all honesty, it’s not the fault of the festival. The first year it was my cheap, leaking tent and 14 hours of heavy rain; this year, the tent situation was circumvented by booking a very un-rock’n’roll B&B, it was the stomach upset, seemingly mild food poisoning from eating a dodgy chicken burger at the festival, which led to me shuffling off early on Sunday back to said B&B.

It’s hard to criticise a festival as selfless as this one. With a conspicuous lack of big corporate sponsorship (with the exception of HMV and Metro, whose presence were still unobtrusive), the whole weekend is run by volunteers and all to raise money for the restoration of the beautiful castle at which it is held. Not only that, but with the majority of all acts at the festival Irish, the organisers showed themselves to be dedicated to Irish music. On the other hand it is a boutique festival, and though eco-shops, workshops and a spa are a unique idea for inclusion in a festival, this one has begun already to descend into cheap gimmickry.

I finally reached Charleville Castle in time to catch Holy Roman Army at the HMV stage. Disappointingly for such a hotly-tipped band, they completely failed to make any kind of impression beyond leaving you vaguely questioning the point of having the sax just doubling the synth through most of their final songs. The Ambience Affair however, made a far greater impression by playing one of their best gigs so far. Some problems with sound and some beside-stage carpentry meant a delayed start, but The Ambience Affair simply and utterly absorbed the attention of the audience. A musician who has the layered structure of rock down to a fine art, Jamie Clarke’s guitar loops and samples really do create an inimitable ambience, part Final Fantasy, part small-club band.

Staying in the HMV tent after such an uplifting experience was perhaps ill-advised. The introduction promised an affair that was ‘the most deborched…and lecherous’… really The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live was nothing but embarrassing, for the people involved and everybody watching. Cue quick exit to the main stage and Angel Pier, a band with a lot of promise but a disappointing lack of stage presence. They are nonetheless a considerably stronger force than even one year ago, Angel Pier have a melody-driven pop-rock mix which is clearly still maturing.

Dark Room Notes, long a favourite of Cluas, didn’t disappoint. Even though their singer looked more trendy banker than rock god, the band is one of the few who can create an album-perfect sound without compromising live energy: energy is what DRN is all about, and while We Love You Dark Matter was one of the best releases of the year, they have definitively proven that their electro-indie was meant for the stage. Similarly, next band Super Extra Bonus Party simply live for performance. SEBP, though fallen quiet since their initial splash on the scene a few years ago, have a sound that is surprisingly refined and immaculately honed for the stage: club beats vie with heavy distortion and thumping rock basslines. In fact, SEBP would easily have qualified for putting on the best show of the weekend, were one - if not two-fifths - of the band being incredibly annoying onstage at all times (headbanging and generally cavorting in what just seemed a very contrived way).

From here, day one of Castlepalooza began to go downhill, starting with a steep dip: Skibunny. With a complete absence of a personality of any kind, the kind of lyrics that most people stop writing at age 14, some simply quite poor music and some cringey on-stage interaction, the duo’s only redeeming feature was their halfway-decent backing tracks. Never again. It was hard to fault the headlining David Kitt’s performance, but easy to fault the choice of line-up that led to his slot. As always he proved himself a brilliant musician and songwriter, assisted by Somadrone’s Neil O’Conner and playing some mean geetar. But as the build-up of heavy beats through Dark Room Notes, Super Extra Bonus Party and Project Jenny Project Jan made way for subtle grooves, loud aggression for nuance, and the crowd’s gentle inebriation for all-out pissed, Kitt simply failed to hold sway with most.

Anna Murray


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20
Aloof as ever, Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon and previously Red House Painters, had a very quick word with Anna Murray ahead of his Andrew’s Lane gig this Thursday. Do you regret the demise o...

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23
Choice Music Prize nominees Halfset
Halfset are without doubt one of the least known of the Choice Music Prize nominees: a brief mention here, a support slot there... But with Another Way of Being There, the band's second album, and...

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23
With Sea Saw, Lisa Hannigan has finally broken her last ties with Damien Rice and established herself as an artist worth watching. Her nomination for the Choice Music Prize is unneeded proof of her ac...

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22
Choice Music Prize nominee Rarely Seen Above Ground
Going from drummer to solo artist is an unusual career change, but as Organic Sampler proves, Jeremy Hickey has found his niche. A fresh focus on the groove rather than the details, without ever letti...

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22
Messiah J and the Expert's place in Irish music is almost unique. A rapper/producer duo that has found equal adoration among die-hard rockers and indie kids alike. 2008 seems to have been their ye...

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22
Choice Music Prize nominee Jape
Richard Egan, a.k.a. Jape, has been a staple on this ol' "scene" of ours for quite a while now, producing record after record of quality, often disparate, material. This year sees the no...

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22
Oppenheimer are possibly one of the best natured and refreshingly enthusiastic bands in Ireland at the moment. The Belfast-based electro-pop duo's second album Take the Whole Mid-Range and Boost I...

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27

Fight Like Apes (live in Whelans, Dublin)

Fight Like ApesReview Snapshot: I still haven't decided whether I enjoyed this gig or not. Fight Like Apes themselves were undeniably excellent as ever, but an over-excited crowd made the whole thing a manic affair.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:

I think I preferred Fight Like Apes when they were just starting out. While I always admired their ability to get an often-bemused crowd moving, they seemed to have honed this into an ability to induce spontaneous loss of limb control and often senses. Last night’s album launch gig in Whelans, was one of the most terrifying gig experiences of my life: after a heavy hour of being squashed, I left nursing an aching head from the impact with a metal dustbin and aching neck from the impact with someone’s elbow as I was crushed between two people reaching for a crowd-surfer, bruised arms and a dress that stank of spilled drink. And I narrowly missed being egged while walking home, although I can’t really hold the gig to blame for that one.

But yet it was inexplicably one of the best gig experiences. Nearly all of the problems of this gig were the result of the young and over-excited crowd, whereas Fight Like Apes themselves played a blinding set, with admirably few album plugs. There is very little of interest to say of their support band, whose name I couldn’t even catch, but that they need to learn that noise and screams are much more effective reserved for climactic peaks and dramatic effect, and that pushing your singers’ voices will make for an early retirement for them and loss of interest for everybody else. Evidentally thy have listened to too much At The Drive-In without learning any of their ingenuity or complexity. But, their bass-player knows how to hit a groove and lash out riffs, making a noise no three-piece should be capable of.

FLA were, as ever, funny and good natured, despite the violence of their songs, and they play the old songs with the same fervour and crazed energy they do the new. The band themselves have come a long, long way in the last few years – and have apparently concentrated most on developing their already-strong live performance and crowd-control techniques – mostly whipping them into a frenzy. They are more powerful, more wild, and just a little more controlled. However, with this has come a certain complacency: when you know that you will get a screaming reaction no matter what you do, you tend to hold back. MayKay, while putting so much more effort into her crowd interaction than in their early days, is nonetheless putting less into her own performance. The screaming aggression and sudden crying breaks from the slightly introverted – dare I say girlish? – norm is being lost, and slowly making the Fight Like Apes show more ordinary. Nevertheless, judging by last night’s show, Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion should prove to be one of the best Irish albums of this year.

Anna Murray


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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 CLUAS.com to read this very article.