The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Ken Fallon'

18
Kristin Hersh, An Unquiet Mind
Kristin Hersh is reminiscing about her early tours with the Throwing Muses, the influential art-rock band she formed as a teenager in the early eighties with her stepsister Tanya Donnelly. The Pixies ...

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01
Sister Cities
Hailing from Tempe, Arizona, Sister Cities have just released their excellent debut single ‘White Dress’ on this side of the Atlantic with UK label 100% Music. Consisting of Brett (guitar ...

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03
Ann Scott 'Flo'
A review of the album 'Flo' by Ann Scott Review Snapshot: Ann Scott returns with her remarkable new album 'Flo', a collection of songs that will enthrall and disquiet in equal...

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27
We Are Scientists
Keith Murray and Chris Cain of US indie-rockers We Are Scientists often don’t take interviews all that seriously. It may have something to do with their way-out sense of humour (check out their ...

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12
Craig Walker 'Siamese'
A review of the album 'Siamese' by Craig Walker Review Snapshot: Fifteen years after the demise of his former band - the brilliant Power Of Dreams - frontman Craig Walker returns with...

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06
Power of Dreams
Twenty years ago an alarmingly young band from Dublin released a debut album full of near-flawless indie-pop tunes. It had a confidence and ambition that was at odds with their youth and it is still t...

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05
  Formerly the guitarist with the brilliant and much-missed Irish rockers Ten Speed Racer, Pat Barrett - working under the moniker of The Hedge Schools - quietly re-emerged last year wit...

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18

Slint (live in The Tripod, Dublin)

SlintReview Snapshot: While The Rolling Stones roll out the hits yet again in Slane, down the road in Dublin’s wonderful Tripod venue, Slint, also trading on past glories (but in a good way), take to the stage to play one of most important and influential alternative-rock albums of all time. Welcome to Spiderland.

The CLUAS Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full review:
Back in 1991, while Madchester reigned in the UK and Kurt Cobain was changing the course of rock history in the US, four young men from Louisville, Kentucky were quietly putting together a suite of six songs that would become the seminal ‘Spiderland’. With this album they inadvertently laid down the blueprint for what would become ‘post-rock’ with bands like Sigur Ros and especially Mogwai using this album as a creative touchstone for their own output.It is a collection of dark yet highly cerebral songs that didn’t fit in with the plaid-shirted brigade up in Washington State. Whereas grunge was about unleashing all your pent-up emotions and repressed anger, ‘Spiderland’ was about making you think. It has a subtlety and a self-awareness that has resulted in its still sounding so fresh in 2007.

And it is in 2007 that Slint have decided to play the album in full as a part of All-Tomorrow’s Parties programme, and thankfully Dublin is part of the itinerary. They amble onstage with little fanfare; in fact such a low-key entrance is it that most in the audience believe they are part of the crew doing a few last minute checks. But, yes, it is Slint and without a hello or even a glance in our direction (shouts for a new album are met with stony silence), they launch into ‘Breadcrumb Trail’ and over the course of the next hour or so they play the album in its entirety.

On the extreme left of stage, guitarist/‘vocalist’ Brian McMahan quietly narrates over the music, recounting tales of troubled souls in the darklands of America. David Pajo, still looking about 24, unleashes his clean and powerful guitar configurations while Britt Walford is hidden behind his drumkit, working hard keeping time as his band’s mercurial music swoops and swirls around him. On the last track, ‘Good Morning, Captain’ they counterbalance the many subdued moments of before with large chunks of guitar-driven intensity.

After playing the album in sequence, they fill out the set with some non-Spiderland material and a possible new song at the very end. And with that they are gone, uncommunicative and glacially serious to the last, their legacy undamaged and enigma intact.

Ken Fallon


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09

The Aftermath live in the Stables, Mullingar

The AftermathReview Snapshot:
Walking away relatively unscathed from a serious road accident the previous week, Mullingar’s finest The Aftermath return for a triumphant hometown gig in The Stables.

The CLUAS Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full review:
Before tonight’s main act The Aftermath, Pete Courtney seems like the calm before the storm. There is a delicate touch to his music, a subtle sophistication that is most evident in his upcoming new single ‘Instinct’, which gets an airing tonight. It is a beautiful piece of gentle melancholy, so good it even quietens the more talkative elements of the audience. No mean feat. In a country brimming over with soporific acoustic troubadours, Courtney stands out.

The Aftermath know how to put on a show. On limited resources, they endeavour to make this gig both visually and aurally appealing. With their equipment festooned with glowing fairy-lights and a back projection showing old TV footage of French singer/provocateur Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, they’ve injected a shot of glamour into the cosy confines of The Stables. A feeling of goodwill towards the band is palpable too, a goodwill born, perhaps, from relief that they are still in one piece after their recent brush with death. They race through familiar favourites  ‘One Is Fun’, ‘Need’ and ‘There Is A Darkness’, but if there is a sense that the Aftermath are on the cusp of something greater, then it is due in no small part to the rather excellent ‘All I Want Is For You To Be Happy’. Containing a ferociously catchy chorus, some interesting guitar work and quirky time-changes, it is easily their most accomplished song to date and the highlight of tonight’s set. Later ‘Hollywood Remake’ and ‘Are You Not’ sound reinvigorated and imbued with a new sense of purpose.

Having seen them several times over the last few years, The Aftermath, fronted by the likable Johnny Cronin, are a band that is continually improving and tonight is a real breakthrough of sorts. They are polished and confident, their playing tight yet still open to moments of spontaneity. It all bodes well for their long-awaited debut album, due in early 2008.

Ken Fallon

 


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23

Biffy Clyro 'Puzzle'Review Snapshot:
Three years since ‘Infinity Land’ the curiously named Scots trio Biffy Clyro return with ‘Puzzle’. Less complex and slightly more accessible than their three previous albums to date, ‘Puzzle’ is still one of the most inventive and ambitious guitar albums you will hear all year.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10.

Full Review:
Is the simple pop melody, superimposed on a swathe of hard-rock guitars and thumping drums, the perfect rock equation?The myriad genres and sub-genres that clog the crowded world of alternative music will always confuse and enthral in equal measure. It’s easy to get lost within the surfeit of styles and attitudes, of empty poses and rock-careers built on a strict drug regimen. Ever since Bob Mould’s Husker Du started gluing pop melodies to hard guitar signatures, tuneful yet emotional hard rock will always grab the listener with an immediacy that other styles never will. Husker Du were the spark for the fire of The Pixies, who married off-kilter and disquieting song-structure with deceptively simple melodies. Kurt Cobain, in turn, liked their style. He copied their quiet/loud dynamic wholesale but pushed it a little further. While Black Francis’ world view was singular and distorted, Cobain’s world was one of narcissistic self-loathing. He put his feral, anguished howl over ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, injected the song with a pop DNA and turned it up to….12. It worked because it got under your skin and made your heart pump a little faster. It was cathartic and violent yet it was essentially a conventional pop-song, albeit hidden under layers of misanthropy.

Is it ridiculous to claim Biffy Clyro as the next link in the chain? Maybe in different times, Biffy might have been huge as they balance perfectly the two supposedly mutually exclusive concepts of a pop melody with hard rock, as ‘Teen Spirit’ did. But music will never be the social force that grunge was. It will never unite the disaffected on a global scale as everything now is easily accessible and compartmentalised. The Internet, with its attendant blogs and networks, is now the social force, and no Art form will supersede it. Yet, Biffy have a spirit that eschews fashion and famous girlfriends and empty NME hyperbole. There is something going on in their music that would unite people in the same intense way Nirvana did, if the world was the same as it was in 1990.

But it’s not just Nirvana that can be heard on their fourth album ‘Puzzle’. There is Queens of the Stone Age’s grimy, mechanical funk-rock on ‘Who’s Got a Match?’ There are even a few subtle nods, possibly ironic, to the skinny trouser angular-rock brigade. The theatrics of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is in evidence (in a good way) and a few knowing winks to early U2 (always early U2).  Muse can be heard on the monolithic opener ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’. It starts with an atypical intro, a series of short, sharp stabs of strings and drums before exploding into a trademark Biffo chorus, replete with full choral accompaniment. Like Muse, Biffy always try to incorporate arena friendly song-structure into their unique, music-as-math template. Although, ‘Puzzle’ is a little more straightforward than their previous efforts, it still jolts the listener throughout the course of its 14 tracks, both for its disconcerting tempo changes and for the plain fact it is so damn catchy. ‘Saturday Superhouse’has got a massive chorus that shows that no matter how complicated they try to be, they have a strong pop sensibility at heart and it’s no surprise it reached number 13 in the UK charts. Later ‘The Conversation Is…’ showcases another effortless hook on an album that is full of them.

 ‘Puzzle’ creates a puzzle. If Cobain was still alive, and became a little more musically adventurous, might he have come up with something like this? Quite possibly. Though they hail from Ayr in Scotland, ‘Puzzle’ is an American sounding album. It has a scope and expansiveness that is at odds with the musically blinkered outlook of contemporary British rock. You would be well advised to spend some time with it.

Ken Fallon

 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

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.