The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Steven O'Rourke'

11

Making a music video is generally an expensive undertaking and, even if bands go for the cheap and cheerful option, having the skill and imagination to make it look professional can prove just as difficult getting finance. 

Over the past 6 years, however, acts such as The Frames, Duke Special, Fight Like Apes, C O D E S, The Mighty Stef and Future Kings of Spain have all had the opportunity to work with student filmmakers thanks to a special collaboration between the Tisch School of Arts at NYU and Hot Press.

This year saw the program celebrate its 100th video and, as you can see from the above photograph, Key Notes attended a special screening to mark the event on Wednesday May 6.  On the night the Tisch filmmakers premiered videos (in various states of completion) from The Laundry Shop, The Dirty 9's, One Day International and Moth Complex[Declaration of interest: Steve O'Rourke, author of Key Notes, is friends with Aoife O'Leary of Moth Complex and earlier this year was involved in helping and promoting the band.]

Unfortunately, none of this years crop of videos are available yet but this blog's favourite on the night was One Day International's video for Little Death which had an Eighties kids TV program feel to it, very camp but it worked very well.  Of the other videos, The Laundry Shop's The Daily Special and Learned my Lesson by Moth Complex were still very much works in progress.  The video for Lucy Opus (The Dirty 9's) was perhaps the most 'classical' video of the evening, following, as it did, the sure fire format of movie scene, band scene, movie scene, band scene, movie scene, fade; cracking song though.

Key Notes' favourite video of the Tisch/Hot Press venture remains Syndicate by the Future Kings of Spain and this blog doesn't need much of an excuse to play it again:

Key Notes will, of course, post another blog when this year's batch of Tisch/Hot Press videos go live.

Photo Credit: Hot Press


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Blogs, Key Notes
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
07

Since their incorporation in 2005, Casio Kids have become reknowned for their epic live performances combining old analogue and trashy keyboards, pop melodies and shadow puppet theatre.  Musicially, the band claim to draw inspiration from artists as diverse as Paul Simon and New Order.

Having spent the first part of the year supporting Of Montreal on their European tour (on top of Eurosonic and SXSW apperances), Tuesday May 26 sees the Norwegian electro-troupe outfit make their Irish debut in Academy 2.  Tickets are on sale now from the usual outlets for €15 but, thanks to MCD, Key Notes has a double pass to give away.  

To win, all you have to do is email keynotes[at]cluas[dot]com (removing the [at] and [dot] and replacing them with @ and .) with 'Casio Kids' in the subject line.  The competition is open until Friday May 15 when a winner will be drawn at random.  As always, Key Notes decision is final.

Casio Kids: Grønt Lys i Alle Ledd

 


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Blogs, Key Notes
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
27

Oliver Cole, Alphastates & Others (live in Radio City, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: There's something different about Oliver Cole these days, and not just the use of his full forename.  A happier Cole headlined a Revolver night with a multiude of new songs and was ably supported by a number of old and new faces. 

The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
This was a strange gig for me.  I'm normally the bloke that stands towards the back, arms crossed, doing my best to look non-plussed about the whole thing.  Not tonight, as I'm forced up the front by over anxious friends, one of whom is a work colleague of one of the acts (consider that my declaration of interest).  It did have it's benefits though, as you can see in Key Notes Set List Special.

Opening tonight was Gillian Verrachia.  She easily overcame an inauspicious start (the stool she was supposed to sit on was set way too high for someone of her height) to produce a set full of, if not exactly groundbreaking, melodic and catchy alt-folk songs.  She did, as did every act, have to face the challenge of being heard over a very noisy crowd, but is in possesion of a voice so powerful that it betrayed her diminutive frame.  It would be interesting to hear Verrachia with the backing of a full band but it was an enjoyable start to night nonetheless.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Square Revolution.  Perhaps I'm looking for too much, but I like my songs to have some sort of structure or, at the very least, a hint of melody.  This Radiohead lite schtick does nothing for me and when a band has to resort to a t-shirt (albeit a very cool t-shirt) to get its biggest applause of the evening, you know you're in trouble.

Thankfully, things picked up quite quickly when The Gandhis took the stage and launched straight into an ode to Mr. Data (yes, him from Star Trek).  I hadn't seen this band before but their blend of rock funk (and I mean funk in the positive, Howard Moon, sense of the word) is so insanely catchy that I found myself singing along to songs I didn't really know the lyrics of.  I wasn't alone either as most of the audience seemed enraptured by this bands definite charms (think The Strokes merging with The Blizzards....but in a good way). Highlights of the set were new single Guy Like Me and Zaza.

Alphastates, complete with a visibly pregnant Catherine Dowling, were next on stage.  Now, I'm a big fan of Alphastates debut, Made from Sand, but, it's been so long since I've seen the band live, I was worried they might not be able to blend their old songs with their new sound.  I needn't have worried.  Opening with Top of the World and Indian Sky the band then moved seamlessly into a new track, You Talked.  As always, Alphastates are defined tonight by Dowling's distinctive vocals and the wall of sound created by the rest of the band.  It is an impressive aural experience and one that manages to drown out the inane chatter coming from the back of the room.  It might have been my imagination but it's quite possible that even Dowling's unborn child was rocking out.

The final act of the night is Oliver Cole, complete with full band.  Cole's in his usual talkative mode but there's something else tonight, something I haven't seen in the Kells native since the halcyon days of TURN; he seems happy to be on stage. That being said, Cole apologises early on for the fact that we might not know a great deal of the songs he will be playing tonight.  While that turns out to be true it is clear that Cole's long running muses of time (particularly an apparent loathing of wasting it) and love will dominate his forthcoming debut solo LP. 

The last time I saw Cole, it was just him and his guitar, but tonight he has a full band in tow and the songs benefit from it, particularly the gorgeous Moth's Wing.  The biggest cheer of the night comes when Cole and band launch into In Position and, for just a fleeting moment, the collective consciousness of the crowd recalls just how good a band TURN were and what a shame it is that they are no more.  However, in Oliver Cole's new project, we have a more mature, reflective offering and, based on tonight's evidence, that's far from a consolation prize.

Steve O'Rourke


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
26

As mentioned in his review of Oliver Cole in Radio City on Saturday night, Key Notes found himself in the unusual, not to mention uncomfortable, position of being right in front of the stage.  The only benefit of this was that, at the end of the night, he was able to get his hands on 3 of the bands set list's.

These 3 set documents show that there are many different ways to write a set list, and some are, eh, more interesting than others.  First up, we have The Ghandis set this.  This is your typical 'back of a fag packet' set list and show's that a band can change their mind a number of times before deciding on their songs: 

Next we have the Alphastates set list.  This is handwritten on a sheet of A4 paper and seems perfectly normal until we get to the last song Milky Tits (which was actually an excellent rendition of Angel Kiss, dedicated to lead singer Catherine Dowling's unborn child): 

Finally, we come to Mr. Oliver Cole's list.  It was only because Cole mentioned during his set that he had given all their songs joke names that Key Notes even bothered to pick up any of the set lists.  This blog is not sure if there needs to be some sort of parental advisory with this particular entry but, here we go, Oliver Cole's 'sex list': 


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Blogs, Key Notes
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
26

Groom (live, Upstairs in Whelan's, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: Those who were downstairs waiting for Mundy to play one of his two songs, could have done far worse than make their way upstairs to see two examples of how one man and a guitar doesn't have to sound boring or formulaic.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:Groom Live
Being a vegetarian means that sometimes, when you want more than just 'Pasta in a non-descript white sauce', you find yourself having to look around for somewhere to eat.  It was because of this that I only arrived in Whelan's half way through Neosupervital's support slot. This was my first time upstairs in Whelan's and it has a very peculiar shape for a venue and appears to be more suited from its previous purpose (as a smoking room) than as a gig venue.  That being said, its design forces people towards the stage and lends an intimacy that many venues lack. 

Tim 'Neosupervital' O'Donovan is leading a one man crusade to to bring synth pop to the masses.  Now that he's no longer on drumming duties for Bell X1, it appears O'Donovan is concentrating more on his music than his image.  Gone are the sharp suits and Knightrider sunglasses and in comes a sound that relies more on Neosupervital's craft and musicianship than drum machines and computers.  It's very early to say but, on this performance, one can't help but be very excited about O'Donovan's upcoming sophomore record.

Next on stage was Groom who proved to be more than just Mike Stevens and his whimsical way with words.  Opening with Death of a Songwriter, Stevens and his talented band lead the audience through a set that consists mostly of tracks from their new mini-album, At the Natural History Museum

While it was the upbeat tracks such as Mythical Creatures and Worst of Places, Worst of Times (a song about the 80's) that provoked the best reaction from the crowd, it was on At the Natural History Museum and Moving West that Groom proved their worth as accomplished musicians and performers.  Stevens himself seems, at times, a reluctant frontman (think E without the beard) and yet, walked amongst the audience shaking hands with everyone he could during one instrumental section.

Overall, tonight could well prove to be something of a watershed moment in Irish indie music.  While downstairs, Mundy was helping Whelan's celebrate their 20th birthday with his own brand of alt-folk, so loved by Irish music fans for the last 10 years, upstairs two of Ireland's most innovative and exciting acts were showcasing the future of indie music in this country. 

Steve O'Rourke


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Gig Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
22

Ireland's most intimate boutique music and arts festival, Castle Palooza, was launched yesterday and the event, now in its fourth year, promises to be the best yet.  The line-up so far is a who's who of top class Irish indie acts:

  • David Kitt
  • R.S.A.G.
  • Dark Room Notes
  • Ambience Affair
  • Le Galaxie
  • Channel One
  • Dave Peyton
  • Nell Bryden
  • The Lost Brothers
  • Noise Control
  • Patrick Kelleher
  • Robotnik
  • Project Jenny Project Jan
  • The Followers Of Otis

     

    Key Notes is particularly excited about the presence of Dark Room Notes, Le Galaxie (formerly 66e), Robotnik and the man currently hawking his excellent Nightsaver album, David Kitt.  This blog is also looking forward to seeing R.S.A.G and Channel One for the first time, having been told many times by his fellow bloggers that he really must see them live.

More acts are to be announced before the event, taking place on August 1 & 2 (the Bank Holiday weekend), in the grounds of Charleville Castle, Tullamore.  There will also be a number of non-music events taking place over the course of the weekend including a live Rocky Horror Picture Show and ceilí though, unfortunately, not at the same time! 

Tickets are available from a recession-busting €89 for a weekend camping and include a 'Treat Yourself' package for couples for €299 which includes 2-day camping tickets, a pitched tent on arrival, a double sleeping bag, pillows and mats, a bottle of champagne and breakfast in bed on the Sunday morning, complete with newspaper.  This is not your typical festival!  All tickets available from here the usual outlets.


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Blogs, Key Notes
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
22

A review of the album Upside to the Downside by Jabbas

Review Snapshot:  Upside to the Downside doesn't break any new musicial boundaries but its infusion of edgy urban beats and toe-tapping electro-pop ensures that there's pleanty to keep all but the most fickle of listeners coming back again and again.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
Jabbas is a very aspirational young man.  Upside to the DownsideBefore I began to listen to his debut album, Upside to the Downside, I was challenged to cut up everything I thought I knew about rock, pop and dance and throw the pieces into a pot of glue.  Indeed, even then, what came out would only go some of the way to explaining what Jabbas sounds like.  An interesting challenge when you're dealing with something as subjective and emotive as music, I'm sure you'll agree but it is also an exercise well worth undertaking, especially when the album in question, for the most part, delivers.

The record sleeve claims that this album was recorded in bedrooms in Castlegregory and Dublin, and its lo-fi production values will not be to everyone's taste.  That being said, this is the ultimate self-produced record, with Jabbas playing virtually every instrument and proving to be very competent on them all. 

Upside to the Downside opens with the following line 'Baby, I'm your one stop shop for all your needs.'  Generally, it's a promise that Jabbas lives up to.  This record contains a pick-n-mix of musical styles from euro-pop to Beck-esque sleazy rock, without ever sounding disjointed.  The stand out tracks are Electrotable Town, Make Amends, Ephemera and the title track, even if the verses of the later do sound a little like David Byrne's Lazy at times (it even contains the lyric, ironically enough, 'I'm never lazy, I'm always late').  Indeed, it is this feeling of familiarity (despite the number of genres that the album spans) that, paradoxically, will drive some listeners away and keep yet more coming back.  

Overall, Upside to the Downside is, despite the high standards it sets itself, a very accomplished debut album and showcases Jabbas as both a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.  More importantly, it leaves you eagerly anticipating album number two.

Steve O'Rourke


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
15

Key Notes Top Ten Irish Albums: 7

Damien Rice - O

This blog entry could get Key Notes in a great deal of trouble.  You see, while the good people of CLUAS respect all musical tastes, there is something about Damien Rice that splits the CLUAS writers firmly into two camps.  Those that don't like him and those that really don't like him.  Key Notes is being facetious, of course, but it is fair to say that this blog is in the minority on this site when it comes to Rice.  However, wouldn't it be a very boring site if every single one of us had the same opinion?

From what I can gather, between the expletives, it is Rice's image as the head troubadour of the Irish singer-songwriter set that seems to grate with most people.  While it's true that this blog was going through a bit of singer-songer phase when he bought O, it was during his time with Juniper that Key Notes first became aware of his fellow Kildareman.  Juniper were one of those bands, like Ten Speed Racer, that always seemed less than the sum of their parts and Bell X1's status as one of Ireland's most popular bands (bra detectors that they may be) and the phenomenal success of Rice beyond these shores would seem to verify that.

However, strip away Rice's image as a messiah amongst certains sections of the Irish music scene and the fact that every (formerly - they're all broke trying to pay for their second home now) middle class family in Ireland own a copy of O (along with White Ladder and whatever that Dido one was) and you're left with O, an album that embraces its obvious flaws and is all the better for it.  It is far from technically perfect, but it has something much more important, magic. 

O touches a part of the conscience that you spend most of your time trying to hide (the part that makes you cry at the end of Big Fish or watching a documentary on Hillsborough).  Musically, there is very little difference between Rice and most folksy singer-songwriters.  What's different about O is that Rice's songwriting is so raw, so emotional that, like Leonard Cohen, you can forgive the flaws because you feel empathy for the characters in his songs.  It helps, of course, to have the vocal talents of Lisa Hannigan and the heart-tugging cello of Vyvienne Long on your side, but more than that Rice has a way with words that escapes most of his contemporaries.  Any songwriter that can turn a song about masturbation (Aime) into a love song is doing something right. 

O is one of those albums that touches greatness without having any stand out tracks, instead it is the sum of their parts, the collective consciousness of the 12 disparate characters that make up the album that draws you in.  It doesn't matter that Rice followed up O with the lacklustre 9, an album that seems worse now than when this blog reviewed it for his first CLUAS piece.  O is, like Astral Weeks, an album that divides opinon.  Some people can't see beyond the musical sparseness of either and yet their are others, like Key Notes, that believes that sometimes, just sometimes, the music plays second fiddle to the story of the album, indeed, the story of O.

Damien Rice - Cold Water


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Blogs, Key Notes
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
15
Herm 'Monsters'
A review of the album Monsters by Herm Review Snapshot: Monsters is an excellent album whose only fault is that it contains so many disparate song styles that it sometimes sounds more like a ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Album Reviews
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
06

In this line of work (and Key Notes uses the term work very loosely!), one of the easiest things to do is box bands off; compare them with like sounding bands, to help readers decide if they would like the band or not.  Indeed, many bands wear their influences so proudly that it almost seems as if they wish to turn their particular little box into a coffin.  Sometimes though, you encounter bands that operate, if not quite in a vacum, then at least at a level far above that achieveable by your run of the mill indie band.

Sometimes, these bands can be so good and so unique, that they completely escape your attention until their discovery only comes about by happy coincidence or, as is the case with Groom, the band taking the initiative and making this blog aware of its existence.

Groom have been on the Irish scene since 2004 and yet this blog first became aware of the band when contacted by Mike Stevens, Groom's driving force, about the release of the bands new mini-album, At The Natural History Museum.  It took about 30 seconds to realise that Groom were a very rare band indeed, further compounding Key Notes regret that he'd not been aware of them sooner.

At The Natural History Mueseum is, essentially, a mini-album about death and the transience of existence, seen through the eyes of a number of disperate characters.  The only thing they have in common is that they are all brought to life by the genius that is Mike Stevens through lyrics such as: Hold me close to your chest so I know your beating heart is true/And when zombies rip at my flesh, I'll turn to you (Mythical Creatures) or indeed, Ski never came back from the '80's/Disappeared, never to return/He was last seen out with his Honda 50 helmet/And his leather jacket with "Burn, Bay, Burn!" (Worst of Places, Worst of Times).  Stevens' vocal stylings and, indeed, lyrics, are best described as the result of Neil Young and Kate Bush's lovechild snorting the ashes of Elliott Smith.  In other words, it's pretty good.

It's not often this blog tells people to go out and spend money, especially on budget day, but At The Natural History Museum will be released on (US indie label) Tight Ship on April 24th and this blog thinks that your music collection will thank you for buying it.  Groom will be launching the album with a gig in Whelan's the same night, with support from Neosupervital


More ...

[Read more...]

Posted in: Blogs, Key Notes
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |
Page 5 of 16First   Previous   1  2  3  4  [5]  6  7  8  9  10  Next   Last   

Search Articles

Nuggets from our archive

2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.