The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Steven O'Rourke'


One of Hard Working Class Heroes' unique selling points (along with not having to buy a tent!) is the involvement of the industry in the event.  This year, Culture Ireland and IMRO have teamed up with HWCH to facilitate the presence of key speakers over the course of the weekend.

Mentor Speed Sessions
Mentor Speed Sessions, where Irish and International industry and media professionals will be available for one-on-one questioning to help you navigate the potential pitfalls in the music industry, will take place between 10.30 and 13.00 in The Button Factory on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18.  These sessions must be signed up for in advance on the HWCH website and are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Industry Panels
A number of discussions will take place over the course of the HWCH weekend, chaired by Jim Carroll and featuring the following topics:

Media: Why The First, Last & Middle Words are Online
The Button Factory, 14.00, Saturday October 17.
What will it mean to bands to have more and more music journalism move online?

Music Placement: TV on the Radio
The Button Factory, 15.30, Saturday October 17.
A look at what music placement means to bands and how to go about it.

Labels: Meet Your new Best Friend
The Button Factory, 14.00, Sunday October 18.
A number of label types argue why they are still relevant as we approach the end of the Noughties.

Touring: The Music Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Button Factory, 15.30, Sunday October 18.
A chance to learn how to move from playing your home town, to somebody else's home town.

These industry panels are free to those in possession of a valid weekend or one day ticket.  Tickets are still available for HWCH 2009 from usual outlets.  Keep an eye on Key Notes next week as he will bring you the full line-up for the event, as well as listing which bands he thinks you should be checking out.

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Key Notes Returns To College
Key Notes has had an interesting couple of weeks.  For a start, I'm now a full time student again.  I started my Masters in Journalism last week and, so far, it's pretty much everything I was hoping it would be.  Shorthand is tough, especially for someone who doesn't write in a cursive script to start with, but aside from that, Key Notes is sure he's made the right decision career/life wise.

Marathon Preparations
Those of you who follow this blog will know that I am currently training for the Adidas Dublin City Marathon on October 26.  In preparation for this I recently ran the Adidas Dublin Half Marathon with my mother (aw bless).  While my time was nothing to write home about, she managed to finish 111 out of over 1,000 in her category and raise lots of funds for charity at the same time so kudos where it is due.  I will be blogging about my marathon exploits closer to the date, and looking for sponsorship, so watch out.

Hot Press Music Show
Key Notes attended this weekend's Hot Press Music Show in the RDS (thanks Greeny!) and was pleased to see the amount of young people there.  When I was growing up in Kildare, music shops were at a premium and access to musical instruments and teachers usually came through school.  With an event like the Music Show, kids of all ages can fall in love with real instruments (as opposed to Guitar Hero, which, while having some entertainment value, has the potential to kill music).  The Music Show also exposes kids of all ages to some of the topics currently being debated in the world of music.  Illegal downloading was, once again, the hot potato, but there was also a particularly interesting debate on songwriting as a business, a subject that gets Key Notes wound up in all sorts of ways.  In my world, music should be considered art, not a business.  Why is that such a lofty ideal?

Two Bands Key Notes Would Recommend
At the Music Show, Key Notes heard two bands whose music he hadn't really paid much attention to before.  The first band, OnOff, won a competition to open the gig section of the event.  I saw this band once before and, quite frankly, didn't think very much.  However, they are now one member lighter and sound a great deal better for it.  There is an edge to this band that a lot of established bands would kill for.  Their music (balls out rock) might not be to everyone's taste but, if they could tone down on the swagger just a little, they is a great deal of potential.

The second band, and one that Key Notes is now very excited by, is Bipolar Empire.  One reason why this band caught my attention is that it would be difficult to pin a specific sound or genre on this band.  It was at times melodic, rock, soul and even blues and all played around songs of a very high standard.  Even more impressive was their vocalist, whose range was amazing considering it was only lunchtime.  Well worth checking out.

Villagers Sign To Domino
Congratulations to Villagers who have recently signed to Domino (Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, The Kills).  Couldn't happen to a better band.  Make sure you check them out at Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 (more on this later in the week).  For now though, any excuse to play this:

Villagers: The Meaning of the Ritual

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'We weren't Spanish. We just liked crowns!'

That's the message greeting visitors to the Future Kings of Spain Myspace page this morning.  In fairness, I've heard rumours of the band's demise for more than a month now but, to see it become official, makes Key Notes feel very sad.  For years they were, by a long way, my favourite Irish band and, while my musical tastes have changed over the years, they remained a band whose records would always be on my mp3 player and whose gigs I would always keep an eye out for.

I still have very fond memories of my first time seeing the Kings.  They were supporting Biffy Clyro in the Temple Bar Music Centre and, aside from my future wife and brother-in-law, the only other people there were members of Snow Patrol and JJ72.  It was one of those nights where you know you're witnessing something special and you just wish that there were more people there to see it too.  That night, the Kings blew Biffy off the stage and I was hooked.

They were also some of the nicest blokes you could meet in music.  Key Notes interviewed lead singer Joey Wilson and drummer Bryan McMahon in advance of reviewing their sophomore album, Nervousystem.  What was supposed to be a 20 minute interview turned in to a two hour discussion about everything including table tennis, diabetic chocolate and fictional TV detectives and continued into the night when this blog and Joe O'Shea (of Seoige & O'Shea) ended up discussing the appearance of sea monkeys on his wikipedia page.  It was, to quote the youth of today, random.  As far as interview material went, most of it was unusable and would result in this site being sued for several million Euro, but it did give me a much better insight into what the album was really all about and helped to colour (though, of course, not influence) my review.

It's always sad when your favourite bands call it a day but, I suppose, you always have their music to remember them by.  The Future Kings of Spain leave behind two great albums and a fantastic EP, Les Debemos.  My favourite Kings' song will always be Meanest Sound but the best thing they ever wrote was surely Syndicate which also had a pretty cool video.

Future Kings of Spain: Syndicate

The Kings are Dead, Long Live The Kings. Adios.

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The Friday and Saturday night headliners for Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 have been announced.  Conor O'Brien and his Villagers will headline Andrew's Lane Theatre on Friday October 16 while Fionn Regan will conclude proceedings on Saturday October 17 in The Button Factory.

Those of you who haven't managed to get your hands on Villagers' stunning Hollow Kind EP are really missing out.  O'Brien, formerly of The Immediate, is a songwriter of extraordinary talent, capable of inducing the entire spectrum of emotions in his listeners.  His appearance at this years HWCH will coincide with the launch of Villagers' new single, On a Sunlit Stage.  If the man can sound this good in a bathroom, you should hear him live, with a full band!

Villagers: On a Sunlit Stage

Also announced for this year's HWCH is former Mercury nominee, Fionn Regan.  There will be those amongst Key Notes' readers who will be wondering what Regan has been up to since the release of 2007's critically acclaimed The End of History.  Well, the good news is that the follow up, The Shadow of an Empire, is due for release in 2010, through Universal.

Fionn Regan: Be Good or Be Gone

As mentioned already, Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 takes place over the course of October 16,17 & 18.  Featuring 99 Irish bands, tickets are available from and usual outlets for €40 (weekend) or €18.50 (daily).  Key Notes will be running a feature on the bands he is looking forward to seeing, closer to the event so keep and eye out for that.

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It will probably come as no surprise, but I don't remember much about my birth.  I know I was a reluctant child; if my Mam is to be believed she was in labour longer than Pat Rabbitte.  I do remember most of my birthdays though, even the one that everyone else forgot. Unfortunately, John Hughes didn't make a movie about me (probably because I wasn't a 16 year old American girl).  My most memorable birthday was probably my 21st, which I spent in hospital waiting for an operation to remove metal pins from my arm.  That was fun!

That's enough about me though, this blog is supposed to be about the statistical anomaly that has seen so many influential musicians who happen to die at my new age.  The 27 Club or the Forever 27 Club contains the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain.  Even Charles Cross, who has written two excellent biographies on Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, has stated that 'The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27.'  As many as 37 notable musicians have died at that age.

Cobain's entry to the 27 club had, perhaps, the most influence on me growing up and was, indeed, the first I heard of the 27 club.  There is a huge volume of text available on Cobain's death with many saying he timed his suicide so he good join the club.  Cobain of course was a student of rock history and this, it seems, is the main reason why many bloggers claim he killed himself.  What most don't tell you is that more than 30,000 Americans took their own lives in 1994, the year Cobain died, so it's not entirely surprising that someone, who had as many problems as Cobain did, joined them.

One aspect of the 27 club that, perhaps, has the greatest appeal (and you'd be surprised by the amount of people who actually want to join this club!) is that it is difficult to imagine any of its more prominent members reaching old age.  The idea of a 50 year old Jim Morrison fronting a Door's reunion tour doesn't sit comfortably.  Likewise, it is difficult to picture Jimi Hendrix or Brian Jones as old men.  On the other hand, how great would it be to hear that a new Nirvana album was coming out at the end of 2009? Either way, we'll never know.

Thankfully, Key Notes doesn't have either an outstanding body of work behind him or a face that might adorn a thousand t-shirts surrounding the central bank so he doesn't have to worry about joining the 27 club, even if he wanted to.  Really, this blog was just an excuse to let everyone know it was my birthday and to play this video:

Nirvana: Heart Shaped Box

Now I just have to reach Jesus' age to have an excuse to play that video again!

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Speech Debelle has just been announced as the winner of the 2009 Mercury Prize.  Unfortunately, this means that Ireland's Lisa Hannigan didn't win, keeping Ireland's 100% record of not winning the competition in tact.  Hopefully it didn't lose because, as one of the guests interviewed by Lauren Laverne on tonight's show stated, it was 'too sweet' and 'just nice to listen to when making a vegetable curry' and not suitable for winning the Mercury Prize.  What a terrible indictment of a record and one that is, in this blogs' opinion, totally undeserved.  Sea Sew is, in places, perhaps a little twee, but it is beautiful in parts and contains some very interesting arrangements.  It was, in short, very deserving of its nomination.

Key Notes would like to congratulate Speech Debelle on winning this year's prize.  To be honest though, I have managed to listen to approx. 75% of this year's albums, and Speech Therapy was one of two records I thought didn't deserve to win (the other being Glasvegas) but might.  For me, it's very much hip hop for people who aren't really that keen on hip hop but who like having a diverse record collection.  For those of you not familiar with the record, Speech Therapy has quite a jazz tinge to it, relying less on artificial production and more on a natural LoFi feel.

Key Notes' own personal favourite was Bat For Lashes' Two Suns and, while it is sad to see this record overlooked, that's the way these competitions work.  People have different opinons than I do.  This is probably a good thing most of the time!

To be honest, there are no real losers when it comes to the Mercury Prize (most bands see a massive increase in sales) but some acts win more than others.  This year's winningest (it's a word!) winner was Speech Debelle and so here's a video to celebrate:

Speech Debelle: The Key

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C O D E S 'Trees Dream in Algebra'
A review of the album Trees Dream in Algebra by C O D E S Review Snapshot:  A flawless debut for Dublin 4 piece C O D E S; Trees Dream in Algebra is one of those rare albums where the re...

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As followers of Key Notes will know, Hard Working Class Heroes (HWCH) returns for the seventh consecutive year in October (Friday October 16 to Sunday October 18 2009).  Taking place, once more, in Dublin's Temple Bar, HWCH is a great opportunity for bands and music fans alike to experience festival-like conditions without any fear of someone setting fire to your tent.

Yesterday, the first 99 Irish bands were announced and, well, it's a pretty impressive list.  Stand-out acts for me are The Ambience Affair, Dark Room Notes and R.S.A.G.  That being said, there are a huge number of acts on the list that I've heard a great deal about but have yet to see live and that, if previous years are anything to go by, will provide the greatest enjoyment.

Ticket prices for Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 remain the same as last year, costing €40 (that's 49 cent per band!- Recessiontastic) for a weekend pass while nightly tickets are €18.50.  Tickets are available from

The 99 Irish bands announced yesterday were as follows:

A Plastic Rose
Adebisi Shank
Airstrip One
Albert Penguin
Ali & the DTs
Alright Chief
Armoured Bear
Autumn Owls
Biggles Flys Again
Black Robots
Blood Bottler
Briana Corrigan
Carpool Conversation
Cheap Freaks
City of Angels
Dark Room Notes
Deaf Animal Orchestra
Deaf Joe
Disconnect 4
Doug Sheridan
Escape Act
Exit the Street
Fiona Melady
Funeral Suits
Go Panda Go
Gran Casino
Ham Sandwich
Hassle Merchants
Heritage Centre
Here Comes The Landed Gentry
Hired Hands
I Love Monster Hero
Ian Whitty And The Exchange
Identity Parade
Killer Chloe
Kill Krinkle Club
Land Lovers
Liz Is Evil
Mail Order Messiahs
Miracle Bell
More Tiny Giants
Not Squares
O Emperor
Oliver Cole
Only Fumes & Corpses
Pearse McGloughlin
Planet Parade
Pocket Promise
Rory Grubb
Sergeant Megaphone
Sounds of System Breakdown
Super Extra Bonus Party
Sweet Jane
Talulah Does The Hula
The Ambience Affair
The Angel Pier
The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra
The Brothers Movement
The Dead Flags
The Dying Seconds
The Holy Roman Army
The Kinetiks
The Poormouth
The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock
The Star Department
The Vals
Theme Tune Boy
Tidal District
Tiny Magnetic Pets
Ultan Conlon
Valerie Francis
Verona Riots
Vox Populi
We Cut Corners
Yes Cadets

So, who are you looking forward to seeing?

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Pearse McGloughlin 'Busy Whisper'
A review of the album Busy Whisper by Pearse McGloughlin Review Snapshot: Busy Whisper is a haunting collection of ten songs that reflect on those moments of longing that appear to happen in the p...

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The way people listen to music has changed, with the advent of the download the emphasis has reverted to single tracks. It hasn't helped that most people have forgotten how to make a decent album. I'm constantly disappointed with records I buy. - Tim Wheeler - Ash

None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again - Thom Yorke - Radiohead

I think a lot. It comes with the territory when you spend the majority of your days with just a dog with a personality disorder for company.  Recently I've been thinking a lot about the album as a format and, inspired by Aidan's thread on the subject earlier this week, I decided it was about time I blogged about it. 

To understand why I feel the way I do about the album it is important to understand that I see music the same way I see art or literature and it is my contention that the realisation of an idea - as opposed to greed or, worse still, a hunger for fame - should be the main driving force behind the creation of art. It is for this reason that I would hate to see the death of the album as a format.  Singles might well be the lifeblood of music, but long players are its soul. 

Maybe it's just me but you build relationships with an album in a way you can't with singles.  To put it in very earthy terms, singles might well be worth a quickie every now and then on her mates couch but something in the back of your mind tells you that an album is probably worth getting to know a little better first.  As I write this blog I'm listening to one of my favourite ever albums, Elliot Smith's eponymous sophomore album.  It took me many listens to fall in love with this record, it certainly wasn't love at first listen, but there were enough individual songs on it that I liked to keep me coming back for more and now there isn't a song on it I don't like or, more importantly, feel the album would be better off without.  Elliott Smith is just one of many albums that I feel this way about.

It's not just about the music of course.  I love the feeling of buying a new album.  I love getting it home and struggling to take it out of its plastic packaging.  I love trying to peel off the price sticker without leaving any residue on the case.  I love checking out the artwork and reading the lyrics.  I love studying the sleeve notes and discovering that someone I know 'in real life' was involved in someway or was thanked by the band.  I love reorganising my entire CD/Record collection to some new filing system I've thought of in the pub (alpha-geographical is still my favourite).  I love the whole multi-sensory experience you get from owning an album on CD or Vinyl Record.  Compare that to 'right click, play'.  It's just not the same.

Of course, not every album makes me feel this way, but that's a matter of taste isn't it? I'm absolutely sure that there isn't an album on the market today that someone, somewhere, doesn't feel the same way as I do about Elliott Smith, Clouds Taste Metallic or Deserter's Songs.  I know I'm being terribly idealistic, but shouldn't great music, like all great art, be idealistic.  Is it too much to ask for bands to put more emphasis on making music than making profit?  Don't kill the album for the sake of keeping Steve Jobs in black polo necks.  There is a place for singles, there always has been and there always will be.  The prominence of downloads has altered our perspective but, as blogs haven't killed novels or Banksy hasn't stopped people attending art galleries, their place should be alongside the physical album, not instead of it.

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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.