The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aidan Curran'

31

So, the rate of Irish acts visiting Paris has slowed to one per month. Not to worry - June's tourist is worth a calendar-full.

JapeJape, nom de rock of Richie Egan, plays the Flèche d'Or on Monday 2 June. Even though lundi soir is usually tumbleweed night at our favourite Paris gigspot, it should be a cracking show.

Egan has just released his third Jape album, 'Ritual', an exciting mix of up-for-it indietronica and downbeat bedsit-pop.

After his Paris visit Egan will be touring the no-less-glamorous towns of Ireland. That Future Days show with Dan Deacon at Vicar Street in Dublin on June 14 seems unmissable.

Jape will then be appearing at Glastonbury, no less. You can find full details of Egan's movements at the Jape MySpace page.

Here's the brilliant first single 'Ritual', 'I Was A Man', recorded for the Airfield Sessions on Channel 6. The line "I popped my cherry to 'November Rain'" deserves to be on the Leaving Cert English paper:


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25

To the surprise of practically no-one, Sébastien Tellier did not win the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade last night.

Sebastien Tellier at Eurovision 2008The Parisian electro-popper's song 'Divine' finished 19th out of the 25 finalists, receiving only 47 points. The contest was won by Russia's Dima Bilan, whose song 'Believe' combined the big-blouse appeal of soft-rock and ice-skating.

Tellier, in fairness, made a game effort at standing out and shaking things up ever so slightly. Arriving on stage driving a golf-cart and carrying an inflatable globe, he was accompanied in his performance by backing singers wearing wigs and false beards. For the second verse, he inhaled from his inflatable globe to affect a helium voice.

Prior to the show, 'Divine' had generated controversy among some attention-seeking centre-right French politicans - because its lyrics were entirely in English. Tellier compromised by promising to include French lyrics, and last night he was as good as his word. A capella, he sang one solitary line in French (2 mins 06 secs) which could be construed as an oblique reference to the controversy - "Pour moi, l'amour chante en Français" (for me, love sings in French).

Here's Tellier Eurovision 2008 performance. One of the French TV co-commentators you can hear at the beginning is none other than fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier:


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24

In the world's collective imagination, French women are cool like Catherine Deneuve,  intense like Jeanne Moreau, dreamy like Juliette Binoche, and chic like all three. After years of dedicated research, your Paris correspondent can confirm these findings.

But did you know that mademoiselle la Française can also rock? It's true - and combined with all her other attributes (see above) that makes her a bona fide pop star.

PlastiscinesDublin punters will soon have the opportunity to continue our research. All-girl punk-pop outfit Plastiscines (right) are playing the A.L.T. on Friday 27 June. What's more, support comes from Dublin's resident French rockeuse, Lauren Guillery.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with both acts. Plastiscines first came to our attention when they featured (and stole the show) on 'Paris Calling', a 2006 compilation of young new French bands. Those groups, many of whom formed after meeting at a 2003 Paris show by The Libertines, were dismissively lumped together as a scene, under the name of 'babyrockers'.

Unlike their dull garage-rock peers, Plastiscines play snappy, catchy alt-pop along the lines of The B-52s and Sleater-Kinney - all mixed with that classic '60s French pop sound. Their 2007 debut album, 'LP1', is a half-hour of deadly tunes and killer attitude.

Lauren Guillery - photo by Donal O CaoimhOn the other hand, Lauren Guillery (left) makes fiery indie-rock. Unless you watch Balcony TV, who once gave her an award for Best World Music Act. All that traffic roaring up and down Dame Street makes it hard to tell guitars from pan-pipes.

CLUAS Discussion Board users, however, would rightly present her with the Palme d'Or for Greatest 'Musicians Wanted' Ad Ever.

By now a well-known performer on the Irish rock circuit, Lauren is playing many of this summer's local festivals. She'll be at Shakefest in Tullamore on 31 May, Life in Gort and Knockanstockan in Wicklow (both in July) and Solas in Carlow in August. She also has three of her own shows in Dublin during June. Check her MySpace page for full details.

Finally, there'll be one other hard-rocking French girl at ALT on 27 June - Dublin-based blogger and lumièreuse Edith Pollet will be at the lighting desk. Chapeau to her for giving us the info on this show. Pity the poor Irish bloke who tries messing with all these derriere-kicking French she-rockers.

You can find out more about Plastiscines at their MySpace page. Here they are performing 'Shake' at a showcase in Paris last year:


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21

Your blogger is heading along to the Irish Cultural Centre here in Paris this Thursday to catch a visit by Pulitzer prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon.

Rackett, featuring Paul Muldoon (centre)As well as being a highly-acclaimed and fairly deadly poet (his 2003 Pulitzer winner, 'Moy Sand and Gravel', is great), Muldoon plays guitar in a band called Rackett that make a sound he describes as "3-car garage rock".

Rackett (right, with Muldoon in the centre) toured Ireland last summer and are are currently working on their third album.  

Muldoon writes the band's lyrics, of course, and he's got a neat line in extravagant Magnetic Fields-esque couplets. "As Good As It Gets" begins: "Like Holden Caulfield spotting phonies/Or Stephen Sondheim winning Tonies". As for the music, well... it's a bit of fun. Did we mention the lyrics?  

A bit more impressive than Muldoon's garage band is the fact of his collaboration with the late Warren Zevon. Muldoon wrote the lyrics to 'My Ride's Here', the title track of Zevon's final album.

Shortly after Zevon's death, the song was performed as a live tribute by none other than Bruce Springsteen. The recording featured on 'Enjoy Every Sandwich', a Zevon tribute compilation.

Here's Bruce's version of the track:


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19

Born in Cannes and raised in Bordeaux, Kim Stanislas Giani makes music under his (not 'her') first name. His new album, 'Don Lee Doo', has just come out. It's a joyous, colourful mish-mash of pop, electro and rock.

KimAmazingly, 'Don Lee Doo' (right) is Kim's 17th album in 14 years, and he's just 31. Since releasing his debut, 'Our Dolly Lady in MK Land', in 1996, he's built up a cult following with that impressive output of limited-edition releases. High-profile fans include Herman Dune and Beck.

Kim is just as prolific with MySpace pages as he is with albums. His blog lists one  two  three  four  five  SIX pages! (All this work probably explains why his website hasn't been updated in ages.) Take a tour of all his MySpace pages to hear Kim tracks old and new.

Somehow he finds time to play live. His next Paris show is this Wednesday (21 May) - but as that's the same night as the Champions League final, your blogger won't be there - but we hope to see him back in the French capital in the first week of June. No Irish dates on his agenda yet.

There's more! He makes his own videos too! From 'Don Lee Doo', here's Kim's promo for 'When The River Turns Round':


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17

Every high-powered and influential player in the information marketplace depends on a crack team of news-gatherers. Even your Paris correspondent, neither high-powered nor influential nor a player in any marketplace, has his own network of spies, moles, informants, tippers-off and so forth. 

For instance, we have an army of shoe-shine boys working Charles de Gaulle Airport, keeping an eye out for any jet-set pop stars trying to slip discreetly into France. The flock of birds outside Notre Dame? Carrier pigeons, ready to take off for Chateau French Letter with the word on the boulevard. Then there's the pop star we got married off to the President of France; that took a lot of work but it's paid off handsomely. (Our copy of the M83 album was delivered to us by nuclear sub up the Seine.) 

The WallsAnd even in Ireland we have our people, our équipe. Dublin-based French blogger and lighting engineer extraordinaire Por La Carretera (a code-name, of course) tells us that The Walls (right) are playing in Paris next week. Stay tuned for more hot Franco-Irish music gossip from the lampie-desk, pop's equivalent of the water-cooler. 

Anyway, Steve and Joe and the other fellas will be at the Entrepôt near Montparnasse on Friday 23 May.

You can check out details of their upcoming Czech dates and third-album progress on their MySpace page. Here they are rocking St John's Church in Dingle with 'Open Road':


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15

It's rare that alternative music makes any page of French newspapers, let alone the front page. But that's what's happening with Justice (below).

JusticeThe video for 'Stress', directed by Romain Gavras, has provoked a storm in France. The seven-minute promo features a gang of teenage boys on a rampage of violence through a typical Paris suburb.

Wearing hoodies and leather jackets with the Justice crucifix on their back, the gang terrorise everyone they cross. They mug an old lady, tourists, geeks, whoever. They harrass a young lady in a metro station and beat up the man who tries to save her. They loot a bar, kick and spray-paint everything in reach, and burn out their stolen car.

For many, the most controversial image is when the gang attacks a lone police officer, kicking him on the ground (4 mins 10 secs).

Why exactly are people shocked by this video? Well, it depends on what kind of people you are. Moral custodians and right-wing politicians, no doubt with an eye on easy media exposure, denounce the video as an incitement to violence.

A still from 'Stress'Meanwhile, defenders of free speech praise the video for putting the issue of urban tension and deprivation back in the headlines.

Interestingly, some representatives of minority support associations criticise the video - the youths featured are either black or north African, playing on a stereotype of young people from ethnic backgrounds.

And other local groups, trying to forget 'La Haine', are angry at another less-than-favourable portrayal of the Paris suburbs as an urban warzone.

Regardless of these positions, the video is a fantastic piece of work. Your blogger notes a scene on the steps of Sacré-Coeur where the young hoodlums jump on two buskers and smash their acoustic guitar (2 mins 10 secs). Not that we feel incited to carry out copycat attacks, but just don't call us tonight because we'll be out.

Judge for yourselves: here's the panic-inducing 'Stress' by Justice:


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14

A review of the album 'The Age Of The Understatement' by The Last Shadow Puppets

Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of UnderstatementReview Snapshot: So here's Alex Turner's side project: a fairly unoriginal Scott Walker pastiche, with Duran Duran-esque lyrics. Of course, this must be down to that bloody Miles Kane, right?

The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10

Full Review:
Comparing The Last Shadow Puppets with The Raconteurs is obvious, but it's still worth our while:

Both Jack White and Alex Turner have won extravagant acclaim in their day-job groups (The White Stripes and The Arctic Monkeys respectively) for little other than flogging retro-rock to nostalgic middle-aged music hacks and twentysomethings who are prematurely nostalgic and middle-aged.

However, White's side-project made the daring leap from '70s rock to... '60s rock, that of The Small Faces and George's songs on 'Rubber Soul' and 'Revolver'. And what do you know? Turner's time machine has followed a similar flight path. He's gone from cleaned-up punk and post-punk back to, of all things, eccentric late-'60s English symphonic pop. This doesn't make him any less unambitious or unimaginative than White, indie rock's greatest chancer.

Comparing 'The Age Of The Understatement' with Scott Walker is obvious too. But if Turner can be unoriginal then so can we. Those swooping strings and tenement-drama tales of tragic starlets, patent Walker, have already been used threadbare by Tindersticks, Marc Almond and The Divine Comedy amongst others. By now these sounds are familiar references, English indie-pop code for "Look! I'm hip, intellectual and sensitive! I've watched 'Billy Liar', read 'Brideshead Revisited' and listened to, well, Scott Walker!"

But it would be unfair and inaccurate of us to dismiss this album as 100% recycled Scott. The middle section of the title track sounds exactly like the middle section of a Northern Soul classic called 'The Night' by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Your reviewer knows the song from a cover by Saint Etienne-esque Manchester group Intastella - and it's also been done by Soft Cell and, apparently, Klaxons. See what we mean by unoriginal?

Turner's one innovation here, if we presume it's by him and not Kane, is in the lyrics. He's replaced the unconvincing Costello-esque sneering of The Arctic Monkeys with pretentious my-first-poetry-kit nonsense as in 'Calm Like You': "Burglary and fireworks / The skies they were alighting / Accidents and toffee drops / And thinking on the train." So were the skies alighting from the same train, then?

And 'Only The Truth' is worthy of Duran Duran: "The girl with many different strategies / Wakes the wolves to curse them to their knees / She's the one by the riverbank so it's easier for her to drown you." This, remember, is co-credited to a songwriter venerated by today's music press (you know, those nostalgic, middle-aged types.) as a lyricist extraordinaire.

We assume that this will be the last of The Last Shadow Puppets. But then again, there was a second Raconteurs album. And a second Arctic Monkeys album too, and a few by the White Stripes...

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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14
Joe Jackson 'Rain'
A review of the album 'Rain' by Joe Jackson Review Snapshot: Classic-hits MOR jazz-pop craftsmanship. Classic-hits MOR jazz-pop craftsmanship. Classic-hits MOR jazz-pop craftsmanship. (rep...

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11

A review of the album 'Opium' by Mark Geary

Opium by Mark GearyReview Snapshot: Well, it's not poppy, and neither is it addictive. Unadventurous, overserious, monotonous and lacking in individuality and personality, 'Opium' embodies all the worst traits of the Irish acoustic singer-songer sound.

The Cluas Verdict? 4 out of 10

Full Review:
In August 2004, promoting his album 'Ghosts', Mark Geary gave an interview to the Irish edition of the Sunday Times. In it, he was at pains to distance himself from "the Whelan's lock-in crowd" (the Dublin singer-songer circle that frequented the well-known bar and venue) and "the Glen and Damo scene".
 
Recounting his experiences with American record companies and promoters, he also spoke of "fighting for your right to fail" - a line from the album's title track. (Angered by this self-contented lack of ambition, your reviewer criticised Geary in an opinion piece on the conservatism we saw as rife in the Irish music scene.)
 
Four years later, Geary is back with his new album, 'Opium'. The intervening time has seen him grow closer to the Glen and Damo scene - Hansard provides a photo for the record's poster and lyric sheet. And 'Ghosts' enjoyed favourable reviews and punter interest, so he can't claim to be a loser any more. Can he?
 
But no, on 'Opium' Geary's worldview hasn't changed. He's still less 'I came, I saw, I conquered' and more 'I feel, I fall, I fail' - three ideas that recur through the songs here.
 
Musically, 'Opium' is unremarkable and predictable; it mostly tends towards the downbeat alt-country rhythm favoured by unimaginative acoustic-strummers. Ann Scott's sweet vocals on 'Facin' The Fall' make a refreshing change, but she can't save the track from its maudlin destiny: "We got nothing, nothing at all / Facin' the fall." There are no memorable melodies or instrument parts on 'Opium'; all the musical content is unobtrusive strumming or shuffling, subordinate to Geary's monotonous delivery.
 
True to singer-songer form, whenever Geary takes a break from tracking developments in his navel it's to attack The Man. From under the bandwagon he takes half-hearted potshots at the usual distant targets like "the corporate climb" in 'Atrophy', "the churches and your killing fields" in 'Always' and "the soldier / Drunk on power" (and not "drunk on Powers", as your reviewer thought on first listen) in 'The King Of Swords'. Someday, some brave and intelligent singer-songer will take a deadly tune to concrete local issues like criminally under-resourced health services, so that The Man will lose an election. It could even be Geary, if he starts taking some chances with his music.
 
We found it a bit rich to hear these lines in 'Tuesday': "I don't like your catwalk eyes / Leave your prejudice aside". This is the traditional singer-songer attack on soul-less superficiality, here equated with narrow-mindedness. But isn't a singer on stage just as much a role-playing performer as a model on a catwalk? Fortunately, a couplet from 'Always' neatly sums up the sensitive, self-centred singer-songer persona: "If you're listening, I'll begin / To pay for pleasure, gonna bruise my skin."
 
Lots of people love this genre of music, and that's fair enough. But it's comfort-food for the overserious indie-kid, no more or less artistic and soulful than your Vegas MOR diva showboating about love cutting her heart like a knife. Unlike more inventive and idiosyncratic peers such as Mumblin' Deaf Ro, Cathy Davey or Simple Kid, there's nothing on 'Opium' to distinguish Geary from the masses of self-pitying bedsit buskers.

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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Nuggets from our archive

1999 - 'The eMusic Market', written by Gordon McConnell it focuses on how the internet could change the music industry. Boy was he on the money, years before any of us had heard of an iPod or of Napster.