The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Steven O'Rourke'


Oxegen Day 2 (live in Punchestown, Co. Kildare)

Oxegen Festival PunchestownReview Snapshot: The weatherman promised us a day full of sunshine, one where we would need our sun-cream as opposed to our wellies.  He was wrong, but then again, that's not surprising.  It wasn't so bad though as it meant I had to spend most of the day in the tent stages, where some sparkling performances shone brighter than any sun. (Check out as well's coverage of Day 1 and Day 3 of Oxegen 2008).

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
Concerto For Constantine (Green Room)
How is it possible for three people to make so much noise, so early in the day?  Concerto for Constantine have evolved from being JJ72 part two into a band that's so much more comfortable in it's own skin.  They (being the veritable supergroup of ex JJ72 frontman Mark Greaney, Idlewild’s Gavin Fox and Binzer of The Frames and Bell X1 fame) have a presence on stage that leaves you feeling you are watching a band destined for greatness.  It's a pity more people didn't turn up to see them, because they were the highlight of the weekend for me.

Delays / Brian Jonestown Massacre (Green Room)
My craving for an organic tofu burger (CLUAS verdict: 9 out of 10) resulted in me missing all but the last two Delays songs.  Mores the pity, their energetic performance had the large crowd dancing and singing.  The same could not be said for the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Don't get me wrong, they were excellent, but coming on 10 minutes late, and constant problems with equipment resulted in more people leaving than entering the tent to see who was on.  A very entertaining band nonetheless and possibly deserving of a bigger stage.

The Ting Tings  (Green Room)
Wow.  Now here's a sound that's going to get old fast.  I'm sure at this stage you know the basic premise for The Ting Tings, a drummer and a female vocalist who sometimes plays guitar.  You wouldn't think it would take 35 minutes to soundcheck them would it?  It did and in that time the Green Room filled beyond capacity (helped by the downpour outside) and people were forced to watch/listen from outside.  It certainly wasn't worth it.  This band are so incredibly limited that they struggle to justify their own existence.  Aside from some catchy singles there really is no substance to this band.

Counting Crows (Main Stage)
Dishevelled, out of time and generally rubbish.  I thought I'd be writing those words about Amy Winehouse, but the prize for performance enhancing set of the weekend goes to the Counting Crows.  I can't begin to describe how bad they were.

Holy Fuck (2FM New Band Stage)
I'll be honest, I only went to Holy Fuck for the opportunity to tell people I was going to see Holy Fuck.  However, I was rewarded with a set that put Battles performance of the previous day to shame.  Holy Fuck are their keyboards and they make instrumental music they way I should be, catchy, engaging and with room for improvisation, unlike Battles brand of cold, music by maths.

Vampire Weekend (Green Room)
An incredible performance by New York's current greatest export.  I wasn't there for Arcade Fire's now legendary set at Electric Picnic, but having witnessed this it's not difficult to imagine.  This band have perfected the art of crowd interaction and audience participation and the result is a performance that allows the joy of their eponymous record to translate quite easily to the live arena.  If any band this weekend was deserving of a bigger stage this weekend it was Vampire Weekend. 

Seasick Steve (Pet Sounds stage)
How can someone with a box and a three string guitar generate such a crowd?  Chants of 'Seasick Steve, Seasick Steve' rang around the Pet Sounds tent for a full ten minutes before his performance.  It was a raucous performance that left the crowd begging for more.  It's just a pity I couldn't understand a word he was saying.  That being said, his blend of hillbilly rock speaks for itself.  A great performance.

CODES (IMRO New Sounds Stage)
Having spent so long singing this band's praises, and indeed telling everyone who asked (and some who didn't) where to be at 9.15 meant I was probably as nervous about CODES performance as the band themselves.  I really believe CODES are one of Ireland's best bands but the sound quality in the IMRO tent was so below par that it didn't do the band justice.  Unless you knew the words of the songs, it was very difficult to hear anything frontman Daragh Anderson was saying.  The songs are there, the performance is there, it's just a pity the arena let them down.

Hot Chip (Pet Sounds stage)
A great way to end the evening.  The best review I can give of Hot Chip is that they had me dancing, which is some achievement considering I was sober.  A very mixed crowd, some of whom actually thought they were at the Chemical Brothers, were treated to a set that consisted mostly of tracks from the bands Made in the Dark record.  They finished the evening with a surprise cover of 'Nothing Compares to You'. Hot Chip - a band I would love to see in a more intimate venue.

Steven O'Rourke

  • Check out as well's coverage of Day 1 and Day 3 of Oxegen 2008.

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CODES (live in The Academy, Dublin)

Review Snapshot:  CODES have once again proven themselves to be one of Ireland's finest live acts on a night that ended all too soon.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
When you have to virtually swim to a gig during the first weekend of July you realise two things; one, you should probably find somewhere else to live and two, you must really like the band you're going to see.  Codes LiveHowever, sometimes a band can be so good they stop you from packing your suitcase and instead provide you with a shelter so satisfying you can ignore the odd storm.

Opening the proceedings were Tidal District, an appropriate name given the monsoon like conditions that swept Dublin on Saturday night.  Unfortunately for the band, the venue was virtually empty at this stage, with less than twenty people in a room capable of holding 30 or 40 times that amount. Unperturbed, Tidal District entertained those of us who had ventured in early with a complex melodies and a strong rhythm section, all nicely complimented by the vocal jousting of Gary Donald and Noel Duplaa.  It worked well for the most part but their style of song structure (soft, loud, soft, loud, chant, loud, end) waivers perilously close to becoming repetitive.  That being said, giving it your all in front of such a small crowd deserves plenty of kudos.

Thankfully, the audience numbers had increased significantly by the time CODES appeared on stage.  By blasting into their set with the anthemic This is Goodbye and Guided by Ghosts the band ensured the audience would be nothing but captivated.  Our Mysteries, Memorial and Edith were all complimented by excellent lighting work and the sound in The Academy continues to impress. 

It is difficult to describe CODES in terms of other Irish bands because there is nobody like them.  The more I see of the band, the more I'm convinced that they are a band destined for greatness and deserve to perform to venues much bigger than The Academy.  It's the kind of music that summer festivals and stadium venues were designed for; grandiose sonic landscapes painted in painstakingly minute detail.

In fact, the only fault I could find with the entire gig was that it was all over by 10.30.  Yes, 10.30 on a Saturday night when surely there are no curfews in place?  It's becoming a more common feature of Irish gigs and is a worrying trend for those of us who like our music to drift into the early hours of the morning.  However, it's hard to fault CODES for this as I'm sure it was a decision by the venue. 

Overall, a good gig was only slightly tainted by such an early finish.  If there is any justice in the world, CODES will be the big Irish winners at this weekends Oxegen festival.  If you're going, be sure to check them out.

Steven O'Rourke

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In order to pick its favourites, Key Notes relied quite a bit on google, wikipedia and, most importantly, this one.  Here are his choices in list form:

1982 – Prince1999
1983 – U2War
1984 – Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain
1985 – Kate BushHounds of Love
1986 – Paul SimonGraceland
1987 – Prince – Sign ‘O’ The Times
1988 – Public EnemyIt Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back
1989 – Neil YoungFreedom
1990 – Depeche ModeViolator
1991 – NirvanaNevermind
1992 – Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union
1993 – The Flaming LipsTransmission From The Satellite Heart
1994 – REMMonster
1995 – Elliott SmithElliott Smith
1996 – Rage Against The MachineEvil Empire
1997 – RadioheadOK Computer
1998 – Elliott Smith - XO
1999 – The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
2000 – Badly Drawn BoyThe Hour Of The Bewilderbeast
2001 – Ryan AdamsGold
2002 – The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
2003 – New PornographersElectric Version
2004 – Interpol - Antics
2005 – Bright EyesI’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
2006 – Joanna NewsomThe Y’s
2007 – The NationalBoxer 

Some notes regarding the above:

Though most people have gone for Thiller in 1982, Key Notes isn't a fan.

There are a number of Flaming Lips and Elliott Smith records in there but both have been a huge influence on Key Notes musical development and so he makes no apologies for having more than one entry.

Key Notes hasn't chosen an entry for 2008 because he believes the best record of the year is still to come, though it probably won't be Chinese Democracy.

'How can you not include Funeral by Arcade Fire?' you ask.  Key Notes hasn't listened to Funeral since while Antics is still on the playlist.

So, that's been Key Note's day wasted, fill in your favourite albums in the comment box below.

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This edition features Daragh Anderson of Codes, who has taken time out from a busy schedule that includes gigs in London, The Academy and Oxegen, to become the Sixth Key Note Speaker.CODES

Favourite Songs from the Past Year
Radiohead - All I Need
M83 - We Own The Sky
Idiot Pilot - In Record Shape
Unkle - Keys To The Kingdom
MGMT - Time to Pretend

Favourite Song Ever
I'll cop out and say John Cage's  4'33", then it can pretty much be whatever I want it to be
Favourite CODES Song
Currently In Algebra but it changes every few days
Favourite New Band/Artist
Favourite new Irish band Irish band - Halves, and on the international front currently digging The Envy Corps
Favourite Band/Artist Ever
Favourite Gig This Year
Elbow - Vicar Street
Favourite Gig Ever
Polysics in the Garage in London for the pure insantiy of it
Favourite CODES Gig Ever
Playing a charity show in Marino College in Dublin when the PA exploded in the first 30 seconds. We turned everything down and got everyone in really close and finished the show completely acoustic with no mics. It was the first time we really held a crowd. It wouldn't have worked anywhere else. Those disaster moments are always the most enjoyable in hindsight, especially when you pull them off somehow!
Favourite Venue
Favourite Piece of Musical/Recording Equipment
Our shiny Macbook Pro for opening up a whole world of cut-up electronia to us
Download or CD/Cassette/Record
I don’t have a Vinyl player anymore so CD's.  I'm a big "Album" fan in a traditional sense.  I like thinking of an album as a particular snapshot of an artist capturing their particular mindset at a point in time. It's about the whole package the way an artist intended it to be received.  The artwork, the sleeve notes, the songs themselves of course, the audio quality and listening from start to finish uninterrupted in the order that the artist defined. The kids are losing touch with that!
Favourite TV Show at the Moment
Not a big TV fan. Any old school sci-fi will do though

Best Movie Ever Seen
Again, tough to call, I love films. A toss up between; Lost In Translation by Sofia Coppola or any of Darren Aronofsky's films

Greatest Book Ever Read
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Most Listened to Radio Show
AAA on Phantom I'd say, though not a keen radio listener
What's in Store for CODES Next
Busy Times! Playing the Pigalle in London on Tuesday, Playing our biggest headline show yet at the Academy on July 5th, and playing Oxegen on the IMRO New sounds Stage on July 12th at 9.15pm. Then off to London again for the rest of July and commencing work on our debut album. It's always good to be busy!

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2008 will see Oxegen become a four day event for the first time.  Punters who have decided to stay on Thursday night will get to enjoy the Swamp Circus Theatre whose line up includes the smallest banjo orchestra in the world , a Headphone Disco and The Rocking Back the Clock Stage that will feature the likes of The Stone Roses Experience and AC/DC cover band, Hells Bells.

Friday July 11

Friday night see’s the Main Stage being headlined by the Kings of Leon and Interpol while the O2 Stage features the likes of dEUS and the Future Kings of Spain. For those of you who like their music a little more electronic, Aphex Twin, Battles and God is An Astronaut will all be appearing on the Pet Sounds Stage.

Irish interest on Friday centres on the Green Room which hosts the likes of BellX1, Mundy and (Key Notes’ personal favourite [/sarcasm]) The Kinetiks.

Key Notes One to Watch: Sugababes Cat PowerPet Sounds Stage

Saturday July 12

REM and The Verve can be seen strutting their stuff on the Main Stage on Saturday night. Key Notes first ever gig was The Verve in Slane and he has a rather interesting tale to tell about the night. However, such immoral, not to mention illegal, activities should never become public knowledge. Saturday will also allow festival goers play ‘will she, won’t she’ with Amy Winehouse being the special guest topic.

The Manic Street Preachers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Vampire Weekend and The Ting Tings are all part of a cracking Green Room line up, as are the mental, which obviously means brilliant, Brian Jonestown Massacre. Irish bands performing on Saturday include Codes (IMRO New Sounds Stage), Concerto for Constantine (Green Room) and Belfast’s own Oppenheimer (IMRO New Sounds Stage).

Key Notes One to Watch: Codes (IMRO New Sounds Stage)

Sunday July 13

Far from being the start of a wind down, Sunday has quite a strong line up. The Main Stage plays host Rage Against the Machine amidst rumours (started by, and only known to, Key Notes) of an imminent album announcement. Elsewhere, dance is well represented by Does it Offend You, Yeah (Dance Stage) and Chemical Brothers (02 Stage). 

The British invade these shores (don’t mention the war - Ed) in droves on Sunday with The Kooks and The Fratellis both playing the Main Stage while Ian Brown and Reverend and the Makers can both be found in the Green Room

Irish performances on Sunday come from Oscar winner Glen Hansard and Roisin Murphy (Pet Sounds Stage) as well as The Blizzards (Main Stage) and Fight Like Apes (2FM New Band Stage). 

Key Notes One to Watch: Band of Horses (Pet Sounds Stage)

For those of you who want to wake up hungover, tired and dirty on Monday morning, but having enjoyed a great weekend of music, a limited number of weekend tickets are still available for Oxegen from the usual outlets.

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Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang are both former
members of Galaxie 500.  One of the the Eighties most influential bands, Galaxie 500 released three albums; Today, On Fire and This is our Music before breaking up in 1991.

As a duo, Damon and Naomi have released 7 albums, with their two most recent, Within These Walls and The Earth is Blue, being released on their own 20I20I20 label.  The duo play Whelan's on June 25th and, thanks to Forever Presents, Key Notes has a pair of tickets to give away. 

To win, simply email keynotes[at] - replacing [at] with @ - stating your name and contact details.  Please put the words 'Damon & Naomi Competition' in the subject bar.  The winner will be drawn at random and will be notified before 4pm Wednesday afternoon.

Key Notes will be there, and with any luck we'll get to hear Song to the Siren, one of the best cover versions around:


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A review of the album I'm Not Entirely Clear How I Ended Up Like This by Michael Knight

Review Snapshot:  Don't judge a book by a cover, or so older wiser people tend to tell you.  However, what are you to do when the cover is far more interesting than the content? 

The Cluas Verdict? 3 out of 10

Full Review:
Buying/receiving albums in bulk; it can often be weeks/months/years before I get around to actually removing them from their packaging, never mind listening to them.  I'm Not Entirely Clear How I Ended Up Like ThisSometimes though, an albums artwork is such that it moves swiftly to the top of the playlist.  Such was the case with I'm Not Entirely Clear How I Ended Up Like This, the second album from Michael Knight, not a person, but a collective of musicians under the stewardship of Dublin Born/Berlin Based Richie Murphy.  Designed to look like a well read book, it has the subtitle: 'A Somewhat Disjointed Narrative in 11 Tableaux'  and the lyrics are printed in the style of a play.  If that's not enough for you, the listener has a choice of two disks, one with the songs as they were recorded and a second disk of instrumental versions.

Unfortunately, that's as good as it gets with I'm Not Entirely Clear... as what follows is 35 minutes of acoustic doodling that too often confuses self-deprecation with self-consciousness and song structure with overwrought orchestral arrangements.   Combined with Murphy's weak vocals it all adds up to something akin vanilla cheesecake; somebody may have put a great deal of effort into making it and it may contain lots of fine ingredients but the final product is just too bland for my tastes.  Besides, Neil Hannon and Stephen Merritt already carry this faux-vaudeville act with much more panache. 

That being said, there are moments of pleasure on I'm Not Entirely Clear...  The deliciously dark Coronation Street sees Murphy and Nina Hynes (her vocals being by far and a way the brightest star in an otherwise dull sky) duet over the albums most interestingly arranged track.  Lyrically there is a great deal of humour in the words but as with most of the tracks on the album it often feels like you're being excluded from one big in joke.  The instrumental disk is also worth a listen once, just to hear some of the more interesting structures and chord changes but begins to sound like the soundtrack to an art installation towards the end.

Michael Knight state that this album is 'a comically failed attempt to repackage humiliating personal episodes with the joke on someone else.'  Perhaps the joke's on me and that's why I'm not laughing.

Steven O'Rourke

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Ham Sandwich (live in The Button Factory, Dublin)

Review Snapshot:  It's easy to make food related puns/jokes when you're a vegetarian reviewing a Ham Sandwich gig, but I shall make just this one by way of summary.  If Codes and Ham Sandwich were the sonically delicious pieces of bread, The Kinetiks were the slightly out of date cheese in the middle.

The Cluas Verdict?  8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
I was wet, I was miserable and I was sulking.  I'd spent all day trudging through the monsoon like conditions that swept Dublin searching for a book that everyone told me didn't exist (An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England if anyone knows where I can get a non-online copy).  Ham Sandwich LiveMy motivation for heading back into town was low to non-existent.  But something (known more commonly as my wife) convinced me that it would be worth it.  It was.

Opening the night were Codes, a Dublin band that specialise in painting musical soundscapes.  Their fiercely catchy synth and keys driven cake is topped by the icing that is Daragh Anderson's vocals.  Experiencing Codes live is the musical equivalent of waking up in some inter-dimensional vortex where you visualise sounds and hear colours.  Songs such as This is Goodbye and Cities are so insanely epic in both ambition and, more importantly, realisation that if all were fair in the world; Codes would easily be filling stadiums recently vacated by little men in purple suits.  A band with potential and ability in equal measure, theirs was a performance that was to go unsurpassed on the evening.

Unfortunately, setting the bar so high could only mean a long fall for The Kinetiks.  The best (and maybe worst) review I can give of The Kinetiks is that they weren't even that bad, it was just so formulaic though that it felt at times as if they were created in a lab in the basement of the NME.  Opening with their best song (Bite the Bullet), which only lasts two and a half minutes anyway, was always going to leave the band threading water.  What followed was a procession of dull-white-boy-skinny-jeans-look-at-my-haircut-indie-pop tracks that made me wish I was standing back outside in the rain again.  Alex Turner has a great deal to answer for. 

The Ham Sandwich performance was a strange one.  Firstly, kudos to the band for fulfilling the date given that singer Niamh Farrell gave birth just two weeks ago.  However, as was mentioned more than once, the band are off to Glastonbury and this gig felt at times like a rehearsal for that event.  Almost all the material played was taken from the bands Carry the Meek album and was well received by a crowd who knew every word.  This is both a good and a bad thing.  It's always easier to enjoy a gig when you know the songs but it would have been nice to hear some new material thrown in as well.  That being said, the Material Girl cover was amazing and the band finished up with my personal favourite, Never Talk.

Overall, this was a rollercoaster of a gig that started in the stratosphere, crashed to earth but finished on a satisfying high.  For the most part, it would seem that the future of Irish music is in safe hands.

Steven O'Rourke

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Being involved in writing about music has meant Key Notes reading a lot of books about music and musicians in particular.  Some biographies, such as Heavier than Heaven, are really interesting because they give you a genuine insight into the person, warts and all.  Then there are those, especially the ones written by big haired 80's rockers, that focus more on the protagonists ability to snort the GDP of a South American country than on the person behind the haircut.

Every now an then though, a work of genius comes along.  For Key Notes, that genius is Mark Oliver Everett, or E to his friends.  Having only a passing interest in Eels (Beautiful Freak and Electroshock Blues remained in their packaging until this weekend) this blogs curiosity was piqued when its friend Alison informed him that E was, in fact, the son of Hugh Everett, originator of the multiverse or 'many worlds' theory in physics.  Key Notes likes physics because, more than any other science, it allows scope for imagination. 

Last week, Key Notes went to Rome on holidays (nice history, horrible airport, people & traffic - CLUAS Verdict: 4 out of 10) and brought Things the Grandchildren Should Know with him.  However, as can happen, Euro 2008 (oh yeah, and culture and stuff) got in the way of actually reading the book, that is, until the plane journey home.  Upon reading that E's first physical contact with his dad was holding his cold, lifeless body at the age of 19, Key Notes was hooked and read the entire book during the 3 hour journey home.

I'm not going to spoil the book for those of you who haven't read it.  But for anyone who thinks they're having a tough time of it at the moment, think again.  How Everett has dealt with the amount of tragedy around him, particularly its timing, is almost beyond belief.  An inspiring read, so much so that Key Notes removed Beautiful Freak and Electroshock Blues from their plastic wrapping this weekend and was very well rewarded.  If you read one book this month, make it Things the Grandchildren Should Know.

And here's the song by the same name:

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Key Notes has teamed up with Foggy Notions to give two lucky CLUAS readers the chance to win double passes to see Dan Deacon bring his future shock sound to Vicar Street on Saturday June 14th as part of Future Days.  Also playing on the night will be Jape, Deerhunter, White Williams and High Places.

To be in with a chance to win, email keynotes[at] with 'Dan Deacon Competition' in the subject bar and the answer to this simple question:

The song: The Crystal Cat appeared on which Dan Deacon album?

A) Spiderman of the Rings
B) Superman of the Swings
C) Oh man, I Never Win These Things

Your email should contain your contact details and the competition will remain open until midnight on Thursday June 12th with the winners being notified by email. 

Entrants must be over 18 and the judges, that's Key Notes, decision is final, so get mailing.

A special thanks to Leah for organising this competition.

And just to help your memory, here's the video for The Crystal Cat:

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Nuggets from our archive

2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).