The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aideen O'Flaherty'

19

Allow me to introduce you to A Lazarus Soul if you’re unfamiliar with them. They’re perhaps one of the best bands in Ireland right now, and their music channels the likes of Joy Division and The Smiths but with a Dublin twist. Their excellent second album Graveyard Of Burnt Out Cars makes frequent references to the rougher sides of the capital, bringing realism to the forefront but still having heart, albeit among some strong lyrics.

For their single ‘The Day I Disappeared’ an image of infamous criminal Martin Cahill was used as the sleeve cover, the song features the somewhat fitting lyrics “And the Liffey filled with tears/Of relief the day I disappeared.” On one occasion I was walking through Dublin City in the evening and one of their songs came on my mp3, and it just seems an incredibly apt representation of the city. If I’m out of the country and one of their songs comes on I’m instantly reminded of Dublin, it’s very authentic and, joyously, very distant from the likes of U2.

So why exactly am I mentioning A Lazarus Soul? Excitingly, they’re releasing a new album in October, entitled ‘Through A Window In The Sunshine Room’ and their first single ‘A Penthouse View’ is available for free download here. It certainly doesn’t sound that similar to any of their songs from 'Graveyard Of Burnt Out Cars', or their debut 'A Lazarus Soul Record', but I’m interested to see where this goes and to hear more tracks from their forthcoming album. I’ll leave you with their video for ‘Icon’, perhaps one of their most popular tracks, from their 'Graveyard Of Burnt Out Cars' album. Enjoy!


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16

Recently news flooded into my e-mail inbox about the imminent closure of Road Records, the independent music shop based in Fade Street in Dublin City. The following e-mail has been sent out to all subscribers to their mailing list:
 

"How do I begin a piece like this, without repeating everything I wrote nearly two years ago now.

I suppose I would have to say its with great sadness to inform you we are finally closing the doors of Road Records.

Its been a difficult two years since we first faced the prospects of closure and we have literally worked night and day to try and see if we could save the shop and make it a viable business again. The current economic situation in this country added to the many problems we faced in the past have finally caught up with us and we can no longer sustain this little shop.

This time, I am sad to say, there is no alternative for us, we have literally tried everything in our powers to keep this place operating and nothing has worked for us. It hasn’t been an easy decision to make, if anything its even more difficult than two years ago, we have had amazing support from people but nothing we do seems to work anymore.

With debts beginning to build again Julie and myself have finally decided that we cannot take any more risks personally and before things get any worse we will have to finally walk away from the shop for the last time.

I have to say I still have no regrets about the last 13 years, its been a real blast and a pleasure to be here over the years. We have met some amazing people and have become friends with some truly amazing bands. The level of support we have received since last year has been truly mindblowing but so much has changed economically since then that its just not possible to sustain such a small record shop like this anymore.

I am not going to give out about the music business this time around, its just one of those things and we have finally come to a stage where I think the days of the small indie store are numbered. It’s sad to have to admit that but this time I think its true, we can’t blame digital sales, illegal downloading etc, the world is a changing place and I can’t see any room in it for kooky little indie stores like ourselves.

We will be starting our closing down sale this Saturday 17th of July and everything will be on sale at a 25% reduction. We will be open for just one more week after that with the final day being Saturday 24th of July. Literally everything will be going on sale so if you want to pick up a cheap stereo, cash register or stapler, then do drop in.

We would both like to thank each and everyone of you for your support over the years, maybe we will catch up at some point in the future.

We would also like to thank all our wonderful staff from the last 14 years, in person they are – Dylan, Jonny, Jimmy, Gib, Colm, John, Chip and Aengus.

As for what we will do next, the honest answer is we really don’t know, hopefully we can pay off any debts we have and then at least we have a beautiful little baby boy to try and put a smile back on our faces.

Thanks & Adios

Dave and Julie"

Only last year Road Records announced they’d be closing, and discussed this difficult decision with former CLUAS blogger Steven O’Rourke in this informative interview. A large portion of bands within the Irish music scene grouped together to host a benefit night at Andrew's Lane Theatre. It seemed this saved the shop, but evidently it was only temporary.

Illegal downloads and internet shopping have in a way ravaged the independent music industry. There are both pros and cons to the aforementioned issues, but it’s always the man on the ground i.e. the independent music shops who suffer. Road Records have for many years been an integral part of the Dublin music scene, both supporting and stocking releases from Irish bands.

Perhaps the most disheartening thing is my wondering “which shop will be next?” Road Records is my favourite music store in Dublin, a point which I made in my blog post about Record Store Day noting the enthusiasm with which Road Records embraced Record Store Day. It’s a shame to think that at next year’s Record Store Day there will be no Road Records participating, and it'll be very hard to find another independent music shop in Dublin to match Road Records.

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28

Today is the end of the 40th Glastonbury festival, and as the tour buses trundle out of the otherwise sleepy village of Pilton in Somerset and the massive clean-up gets underway in Worthy Farm I return to my yearly Glastonbury routine which I’m sure I share with many.

This routine consists of me watching Glastonbury footage and becoming increasingly green-eyed with every guitar chord emanating from the Pyramid Stage and cursing myself for not being there. So in an effort of consolation I resolve to go the next year and religiously follow the Glastonbury updates throughout the year. But then the year passes and I miss the festival yet again. This routine is repeated yearly, and I will eventually get to Glastonbury even if it means riding a tractor through Pilton and accosting Michael Eavis himself.

Having previously housed such iconic acts as T. Rex, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Blur and Oasis it’s become a British musical institution. And this year while the cows were grazing in fields at a safe distance from drunken revellers and overly confident rockstars the Pyramid stage was graced by Gorillaz, Muse and Stevie Wonder respectively.

As per usual the festival was very successful, and I’m sure there are Glastonbury survivors all around England nursing the mother of all hangovers to choruses of “It was worth it, completely worth it” and questioning if anything they saw throughout the weekend really happened. The general consensus is that the more outlandish and surreal the memory, the more likely it is it that it really did happen.

I’m sure Damon Albarn is very pleased to have headlined Glastonbury two years in a row, albeit in different bands. So, as the beginning of summer has been marked with the always eclectic Glastonbury festival I’m going to sign up for every Glastonbury festival mailing list possible.  Because I’ll be there next year, I swear.


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24

John Lennon had a tormented childhood. At the age of 5 his parents made him decide who he wanted to live with - his father Alf who was moving to New Zealand, or his mother Julia who was to remain in Liverpool. John chose Alf, but as his mother was leaving he ran after her and ultimately chose her. His Aunt Mimi then reported his mother to Social Services, so he remained with Mimi instead.

Aged 17 his mother was hit by a car and died near her home. It’s often been said that the absence of his father and the death of his mother at a young age contributed to Lennon’s seeming inability to deal with confrontation and responsibility in his personal life and caused him to undergo therapy in his later years.

The BBC 4 film ‘Lennon Naked’ explores this side of Lennon. It begins with Lennon in his adulthood, continuing where Sam Taylor-Wood’s ‘Nowhere Boy’ left off. Some footage of when Beatlemania began to take hold was interspersed throughout the opening scenes, black and white film of girls screaming wildly and declaring their love while the suitably pleased 20-something musicians are lapping up the attention.

Before long the film delves into the world of Lennon while with his first wife Cynthia. She’s portrayed as a nagging, emotional woman who has doe-eyed look across her face every time she tries to reason with him. Meanwhile Lennon is shown to be moody towards his wife and unhappy with her boxing him in and limiting his creativity. A barrel of laughs this certainly isn’t.

As the film progresses the constant carelessness of the character of Lennon grows tiresome, and the film is awash with some less-than-convincing actors. Paul McCartney, played by Andrew Scott, sounded like he had a comedy voice throughout, his deep nasally tones sounding more Little Britain than Liverpudlian. The slight appearances made by the actors playing George Harrison (Jack Morgan) and Ringo Starr (Craig Cheetham) were blighted by their comedic moustaches and, particularly in the case of Paul, drawn on eyebrows.

The film is exactly as it was described, it was a drama. A drama that gives little insight or enjoyment to your average Beatles fan, the characters seem to have derived some acting advice from the cast of Eastenders. It’s a shame because the lead actor, Christopher Eccleston, who played John Lennon, gave an excellent performance, but the lack of any progression in the character of Lennon and the dreary and constantly unhappy portrayal of him offered no insight or development in his character.

Ultimately all this film taught me, from the soundtrack, is that The Beatles had a song for every occasion.  And right now after watching the film I feel like I Should Have Known Better.

  • If you'd like to make your own verdict on the film it will be aired again tonight on BBC4 at 10pm.

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19

Ever wondered what happened to Fred Mascherino formerly of Taking Back Sunday? Well, if so, wonder no more! The last I heard of him was when he left the band and was focusing on his solo project The Colour Fred, but recently I found out about the current band he’s in called Terrible Things.

While their track ‘Revolution’ sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on Taking Back Sunday album it’s still an impressive track. ‘The Hills of Birmingham’ is an engaging track which begins acoustically but swiftly descends into electric guitars and a stronger sound. To have a listen yourself, which I highly recommend, their MySpace is here and is only a click away!

Two weeks ago former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable passed away in his home in Wales. I’m not going to start professing to being their biggest fan, but it must be said they did release some brilliant songs. My favourite Stereophonics song, in which Stuart Cable played, is ‘Vegas Two Times’. Whatever anyone says, it can’t be denied that he was an excellent drummer, and I'm certain this this song shows it.


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30

Since my last blog post I’ve been acquainting myself with the music of Pearl and the Puppets. Her latest single ‘Because I Do’ is catchy but not too dissimilar to the sound of Feist. Still some quality songs to be heard on her MySpace here, and I'm in no doubt that she's definitely one to watch.

And, as I’m sure you’ll be interested to know the most mundane (but in my case terrifying) eventuality of getting a tooth taken out caused me to ponder about what would be a good play list for while you’re in the dentist’s chair. Well, that and minimising my sugar intake. And, as your ever intrepid blogger, I compiled this list:

  • Nick Drake - Sunday (A nice instrumental song to almost relax you before your teeth begin being drilled in to)
  • Blur - Trimm Trabb (A mellow but somewhat euphoric track is always a necessity in such a situation)
  • The Courteeners - Will It Be This Way Forever? (Nothing like listening to a song about naivety and adolescence  to distract you for a bit)
  • Elbow - Not A Job (Depending on how loud the drilling/pliers are, can be quite effective for making your mind wander)
  • The Cure - Forest (Vivid imagery, Robert Smith’s eerie voice - need I say more?)
  • The Beatles - Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite (Instantly effective, sing along if you’d like to show off your vocal skills/snap a tooth)
  • Arcade Fire - Windowsill (Can make you feel more depressed than scared, you’ll be like Tommy Tiernan when Radiohead started playing on the bus from Craggy Island. So when your teeth are being hacked at, you won’t notice a thing!)                  


No, you don’t have to thank me, thank your teeth the next time they decide to start warring each other. And while we’re on the subject of tooth extractions here’s Green Day’s video for 'Geek Stink Breath'. (Best not to look at this video if you’re of a nervous disposition/are about to have a tooth taken out!)


 


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19

FeistI think we’ve probably all seen the Discover Ireland ads with the catchy Tegan and Sara-esque song with the lyrics “I need to go/I need to get away from everything.” This song is of course ‘Remember When’ by Heathers. It seems that adverts are the perfect launch pad for indie artists, let’s not forget Feist’s adoration after her track ‘1234’ was used on the iPod ad.

This method causes the song to beam into both peoples homes and hopefully their consciousness. When Gossip’s ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ was used as the main song for the first series of teen drama Skins it shot up into the charts.

And of course The Fray and Cold War Kids owe a lot of their popularity and success to Scrubs for frequently using their songs. The Fray’s ‘How To Save A Life’ and Cold War Kids’ ‘Hospital Beds’ were used to regularly in both the show and the accompanying promo ads for the programme.

FlorenceFlorence and the Machine’s ‘Cosmic Love’ has recently been renamed as ‘that song from the O2 ad’. A song which people who are only familiar with it from the ads only know a portion of, and we all know how dreary it is to listen to the whole song when you know five words absolutely perfectly and the rest may as well be yodelling.

This does cause me to wonder if this gives some bands a restricted shelf life, if they’re destined to be ‘that band from that [insert company name here] ad’ and that all of their future work could pale in comparison.

After the major success of Gossip’s ‘Standing In The Way of Control’ their following singles and album can be described as mediocre as best. But who knows, maybe had I not heard ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ so many times that my ears began to bleed I might appreciate their music more. Or, alternatively, they didn’t let their song be used on Skins and I would never have even been aware of their existence.

The use of relatively unknown artists’ songs being used in the media is no new phenomenon. Now many companies are trying to appeal to a younger, more bohemian demographic. And being inhabitants of the information age means all of this is more accessible, and more predominant than ever.

Is it really much of a dilemma though? Yes, using a song of yours on an advert (assuming it gets chosen) could mean that you’re only remembered for one song and the rest of your music could be ignored, or you could forever play music and write songs while getting almost no recognition and make no living from it. Who came blame a band for having ambition, and getting an enviable amount of money in the process?

As long as Bonnie Tyler stops appearing on screen advertising credit cards while looking like a ghost from the netherworld then I generally find advert music to be pretty good. Certainly the less songs by Johnny Logan afflicting my ears and more by relatively unknown bands the better.
 


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10

In the ever impressive line-up of bands coming over to perform in Dublin the most recent additions are Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s Gorillaz who’ll be playing their first ever Irish show (finally!) in the 02 on the 22nd of September, and hotly-tipped Mancunian electro duo Hurts will be playing in Whelan’s on the 20th of May. While I’m sure they’ll get the obligatory comparisons between themselves and Joy Division, chiefly due to the fact that they are from Manchester and are musicians with a fondness for synthesisers, their music isn’t quite that easy to read which makes it all the more interesting.

Lately I’ve been search through my CD collection to find some hidden treasures that I’d forgotten about in the intervening years since I bought them, and started listening to PJ Harvey’s ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’ again. Very rarely can anyone make what appears to be quite vicious and intimidating singing sound equally as endearing as it is confusing.

After listening to the album and reminiscing I decided to look up what she’s doing now, and found a recent video of her performing her new song on The Andrew Marr Show. While I’m not too sure about the song, I was oddly pleased about the fact that Gordon Brown was watching from one of the monitors. I wonder what he thought? The song is called ‘Let England Shake’.


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26

Saturday the 17th of April was Record Store Day, an initiative which is now in its fourth year that encourages people to support their local independent record shop. This was of course a day marked in the calendar of indie music shop owners everywhere and it was also an ample opportunity for me to wander around Dublin City having a look in some of my favourite record shops, and discovering some new ones.  Most impressive was Road Records, a favourite of mine. The staff donned suits for the occasion and chalked the logo for Record Store Day outside the shop.

And besides the great atmosphere there was another reason to get excited about Record Store Day - limited edition vinyl releases. There was interesting array of releases this year; a Factory Records compilation featuring the likes of Joy Division and Happy Mondays, The Beatles 'Paperback Writer / Rain' 7” and Blur’s first single since 2003 (and this time including Graham Coxon!) ‘Fool’s Day’ were among some of the must-haves. Luckily for those of us who couldn’t get the Blur vinyl in time the song is now available as a free download here.

And last but not least are the in-stores, the one which I was most excited about was Villagers, but he was unable to be there as he was stranded in Belgium because of the unforgiving volcanic ash. I did get to see Heathers' in-store in Tower Records, it was the day after their Late Late Show performance, and their music was as striking as ever. Here's a video of their most popular song so far, which I'm sure everyone's heard on the Discover Ireland ads, 'Remember When.'


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09

Recently Pink Floyd were successful in their bid to sue EMI because their tracks were being sold unbundled. After they argued that their record contract with EMI “expressly prohibited” the unbundling of album tracks, and had expected there to be a lock on their songs so they could only be purchased as full albums. When it came to light that their songs were made available as single tracks, this of course was a bone of contention for them.

There are two different arguments about this, one of which is if the consumer downloaded one track it may entice them to buy the whole album eventually. However, it’s equally as likely that one track will be downloaded, and even if it’s considered to be a fantastic track, that will be the end of that. What’s the point of buying the album when you already have the one song you definitely like and want?

One musician strongly in support of songs being locked so they’re only available as album purchases is Elbow’s Guy Garvey who believes the album is a dying art form, stating that, “You spend a large chunk of your life making [an album] and you think about every note, squeak and crackle. When you put your heart and soul into something you want people to hear it as it was intended.” It would be very easy to accuse the musicians of being greedy, and that this is just some veiled attempt at trying to get as much money from the consumer as possible, but in truth I’m inclined to agree with Guy Garvey.

I tend to look at albums as being like books, a series of chapters containing different scenes and insights. Purchasing a track, that isn’t at the time being released as a single, I see as being like buying one chapter of a book because you know it’s the one chapter you’ll definitely like. But what about the rest? Albums are meant to be played as a whole piece, and I think in some instances people will be missing out. What if the majority of people had only bought ‘She Bangs The Drums’ from The Stone Roses’ debut album, or ‘Grounds For Divorce’ from Elbow’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’? Those albums, full of cohesive and defining tracks, could easily have disappeared into oblivion if this was the case.

Naturally this is all subjective, but I personally am in support of locking some bands back catalogues so their music can only be purchased as full albums. Otherwise, bands may see albums as being a waste of effort and time and will only release singles. Could this be the future of music?


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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.