The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Blogs

From 2007 to 2010 CLUAS hosted blogs written by 8 of its writers. Over 900 blog entries were published in that time, all of which you can browse here. Here are links to the 8 individual blogs:

28

We should take it with a fairly large pinch of salt, perhaps, but it seems that Noel Gallagher has left Oasis for good. Just before their scheduled appearance as headliners at Paris festival Rock en Seine, there appears to have been a backstage fight between Noel and Liam Gallagher in which a guitar was broken. The upshot was that Oasis cancelled their show and subsequent European tour, and several thousand fans who had come to the festival to see them were left disappointed.

Oasis cancel Rock en SeineIt was Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, on stage just before Oasis, who first told the crowd of 30,000 what had happened - but most people assumed he was joking. Confirmation came with an official announcement by the festival (right) stating: "Following an altercation within the group, the concert by Oasis is cancelled".

To be frank, it's been fifteen years since Oasis made a decent album ('Definitely Maybe', their very first) so whether they wind up or continue without Noel should be of little concern. It's a bit galling for their fans, who bought expensive tickets and must now also pay the price of the Gallaghers' immaturity and lack of responsibility.

The organisers of Rock en Seine must be feeling particularly jinxed by now - this is the third year in a row that a headliner has cancelled at the last minute. That said, the previous two years it was Amy Winehouse both times: no surprise there.

It remains to be seen whether the festival will take legal action against Oasis, or whether fans are entitled to a partial or full refund of their tickets.

Update: each ticket-holder will be entitled to a refund of 15 euros, according to the festival organisers. Precise details of this reimbursement will be announced within the next week.

Rock en Seine continues this weekend with Faith No More, The Offspring and The Prodigy topping a '90s-flavoured bill designed to appeal to punters in their thirties. Also due to appear are Bloc Party, Madness, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT and Eagles Of Death Metal.


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27

It's la rentrée, the return to school and work and normal life for the entire country of France. Your correspondent is back at his post in Paris, scouring la hexagone for the best tunes. And, first day back, we've found a cracker: if only it could always be so simple.

MataharieAnnecy is a town in the Alpine foothills of France and a candidate to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Its rivals are Munich and Pyeongchang in South Korea, neither city a winter sport stronghold.) But our interest is in cool music rather than chilly sports - Annecy is the home of a duo called Mataharie.

The pair, a girl called Bibie and a guy called Nico, used to be in a band called Goblins but have now struck out with this new project. Bibie writes and sings the lyrics while Nico writes and plays the music. We can't find any photo of them - just the rather pretty image on the right.

When a girl with a high, haunting voice sings enigmatic semi-electro songs called 'O Oak' and 'Lady Of Shallot', the reflex is to think of Kate Bush. Certainly the chorus rhythm of 'O Oak' tips its hat to 'Cloudbusting'. Fans of My Brightest Diamond, Bat For Lashes and the last Goldfrapp album will find that Mataharie's music fits nicely into their collection.

You'll find four tracks on Mataharie's MySpace page, and all four are wonderful. Our favourite is the Bush-y 'O Oak'... or is it the jazzy rhythm and soaring folk-inflected vocals of 'Diane'? And then 'Tambour' has an inventive mix of glacial electro-pop and traditional French accordion... We just can't decide. They're all so good.

No video for any of their songs yet - so head over to their MySpace page and be seduced by Mataharie.


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25

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 Tickets.ie.

The 99 Irish bands announced yesterday were as follows:

202s
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
C!ties
Cheap Freaks
City of Angels
Collie
Cutaways
Dark Room Notes
Deaf Animal Orchestra
Deaf Joe
Disconnect 4
Distractors
Doug Sheridan
Escape Act
Exit the Street
Fingersmith
Fiona Melady
Funeral Suits
Giraffes
Go Panda Go
Goatboy
Gran Casino
Ham Sandwich
Hassle Merchants
Heathers
Heritage Centre
Here Comes The Landed Gentry
Hired Hands
Hunter-Gatherer
I Love Monster Hero
Ian Whitty And The Exchange
Identity Parade
Jogging
Killer Chloe
Kill Krinkle Club
Kowalski
Kyon
Ladydoll
Land Lovers
Liz Is Evil
Mail Order Messiahs
Midatlantic
Miracle Bell
More Tiny Giants
Neosupervital
NoLady
Not Squares
O Emperor
Oliver Cole
Only Fumes & Corpses
P-Dog
Pearse McGloughlin
Planet Parade
Pocket Promise
Primo
Remma
Robotnik
Rory Grubb
RSAG
Sergeant Megaphone
Sounds of System Breakdown
Subplots
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
Zealots

So, who are you looking forward to seeing?


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23

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0ZPTFfpO40


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23

 

http://www.themoth.org/listen


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20

Bonjour from Ireland! Your French correspondent needs a break from French corresponding, especially after our action-packed weekend at La Route du Rock. So we’ve left the stale heat of Paris and headed back home to the wind and rain of Kerry.

But, as we pointed out during a previous trip home, it seems that France always follows us to the Kingdom. Here in Tralee there’s a French deli/café and this weekend a French market will set up in the town centre as part of the Rose of Tralee festival. (There’s also a France Rose, Melodie O’Neill from Brittany.) And there are plenty of French tourists around Tralee and Dingle and the rest of the county.

Jane BirkinThe weekend after this one, someone else will travel from Paris to Ireland. Jane Birkin (right), our erstwhile neighbour and France’s favourite Englishwoman, is performing at the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire. Birkin will be at the Pavilion Theatre on Saturday 29 August, with tickets costing €30-32.

We’ve already written at length about Birkin and that duet, and it’s impossible to talk about her without mentioning Serge Gainsbourg, her late former romantic and creative partner. Since the great man’s death in 1991 she has curated his legacy by re-interpreting many of the songs he wrote for and about her. On stage she sings his songs and talks about him, as if recognising that he has defined her adult life and their relationship is now a cultural artefact in the public domain.

But it would be unfair to reduce Birkin to a mere supporting role in her own life - the woman is an icon in her own right. True, many of her acting parts have been as up-for-it sex kittens – but her intense and brave performance in the bleak Gainsbourg-directed 1976 film ‘Je T’aime (Moi Non Plus)' remarkably prefigures her daughter Charlotte’s award-winning role in Lars von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’.

And recently she has started painting a broader canvas of her pre- and post-Serge life. ‘Boxes’, her first film as a director, is a semi-autobiographical look back over her live and loves. (Before Gainsbourg she was married to another legendary musician, film composer John Barry.) And her latest record, ‘Enfants D’Hiver’, is her first to be entirely self-composed and continues the bittersweet nostalgic theme of her movie.

On a previous album, Birkin sang a song written for her by our own Neil Hannon. The track, ‘Home’, touches on Birkin’s momentous life and has her wondering about the other paths she may have taken. It’s a catchy little thing, relatively sincere for a Hannon composition, and while never the world’s greatest singer Birkin handles this song with a sure touch. The video, where Birkin’s native London blurs into her adopted Paris, is a smart and witty take on the long-term ex-pat’s complex and conflicting feelings when the heart is in two places at once. (Your correspondent knows the feeling all too well.)

Unfortunately we can’t embed the video, but it’s definitely worth a view and a listen – watch the video for ‘Home’ by Jane Birkin here. And if she sings it in Dun Laoghaire next weekend don’t be surprised if the songwriter pops up beside her on stage.


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16

We're back in Paris after a great weekend at La Route du Rock in Saint Malo. Check out our reviews of day one, day two and day three. Our highlights were St Vincent, Bill Callahan, Telepathe and Deerhunter. There were also good performances from Tortoise, Camera Obscura and Papercuts, but Grizzly Bear and My Bloody Valentine were a little disappointing.

Organisation-wise, we can't fault La Route du Rock. We laugh at how Irish festival-goers, having already paid hefty prices for a bloated line-up that guarantees time clashes and missed favourites, must then pay for a bus to the site AND a programme to find out what time the bands are on. La Route du Rock has a free regular shuttle service between the site and Saint Malo. The bus even stops at a hypermarket to allow campers stock up on provisions (i.e. booze). Speaking of which, the campsite seemed to be in neat condition (no rain this weekend) and we heard no reports of any trouble.

If you don't know Saint Malo, it's a large town on the north Breton coast that's famous for its cité corsaire, an old walled town surrounded by the sea. The cité corsaire is quite touristy, though - the old stone streets are lined with restaurants and bars, and on Saturday afternoon there were two stag parties doing the rounds. Yes, the old city is the Temple Bar of Saint Malo. In France, 15 August is a public holiday (La Route du Rock traditionally takes place around this date) and so a lot of shops and businesses were closed this weekend. We didn't find any local record store, and so had to do our music shopping on the festival site where small French labels had a marquee to display their wares.

There wasn't even one tricolour or GAA jersey to be seen in Saint Malo all weekend - it seems that the only Irish people at La Route du Rock were Kevin Shields, Colm Ó Cíosóig and the CLUAS Foreign Correspondent (Paris). And after MBV's anti-climactic run-out on the first night, we reckon your correspondent was all alone in representing Ireland for the remainder of the weekend. (Don't worry: we didn't embarrass you.) While it was certainly easier for the large numbers of UK indie kids to cross over to Brittany, Irish travellers can come by air to nearby Rennes, by ferry to Roscoff or even hit Paris first and then take a three-hour TGV ride directly to Saint Malo. And if you get homesick, there's even an Irish shop in the city that sells essential provisions like Barry's Tea and McVities Caramel Digestives. Mark it in your diary: mid-August in Saint Malo.

The attendance at this year's festival was down slightly on last year's turnout - about 5000 people for the Friday and Saturday night but only 4000 on a Sunday night without any big international act. Nonetheless, La Route du Rock will go ahead in 2010 for the festival's twentieth birthday. François Floret, the festival director, has spoken of how he wants Portishead and Arcade Fire to headline next year's event, but he admits that his meagre budget may not allow this. The wealthier Rock en Seine in Paris at the end of August this year nabbed Faith No More, an ideal act for La Route du Rock's target audience, so the battle for an attractive headliner is fierce. Even with just one big name to feed, Floret was complaining about My Bloody Valentine's proposed fee, which he claims to have negotiated down to a half of the original figure. Last year the festival's website featured an open letter begging for support.

How come La Route du Rock is always in such financial trouble? Well, it has a tempestuous relationship with the local government, who don't seem to be as generous or co-operative as those of other regions. The cost of bringing full festival gear to a remote and inflexible location is quite high - and this year the site had to be drained pre-festival at considerable expense. Indie music isn't as fashionable or popular in France as in the UK, US or Ireland, so there's less chance of persuading French businesses to hand over large amounts of advertising-revenue cash.

That said, La Route du Rock has an ambiguous relationship with the notion of corporate advertising. Traditionally the festival has been regarded by French rock fans as being independent of the business shilling, a last bastion of the punk spirit. But at the same time there were prominent concessions around the site this year to a certain soft drinks maker, telecommunications company, sneaker brand, French bank and French beer. And the telecommunications company even got to re-name the festival's secondary venue back in Saint Malo. We understand how many French people, especially young rock fans, are vociferously left-wing and anti-capitalist (in public at least) - but will we soon see the day when La Route du Rock is made financially secure by allowing one of those concessionaries to fly a banner over the site entrance or put their logo on the wristband? Or is François Floret's annual poor-mouth routine simply part of La Route du Rock's tradition by now?

We might have figured out a solution to both the lack of Irish and lack of money problems. La Route du Rock should advertise in Ireland, just as Sziget and Benicassim do in the Paris metro. As the success of Irish festivals and indie music media (including CLUAS) testifies, there's a considerable alternative music audience in Ireland. Many Irish indie fans also like to travel abroad on holidays, but the recession has nixed all those trips to Asia and South America. There are already healthy Irish contingents at Glastonbury, Benicassim and other European festivals - La Route du Rock may be smaller but certainly offers great value and acts to the discerning indie fans. The low cost of a weekend pass (under €90 to see an excellent line-up) offsets travel expenses which can be further reduced by booking the TGV from Paris at least two months in advance.

La Route du Rock could even look for partnership with a friendly airline. If there's sufficient interest (e.g. by counting online sales to Irish computers) the airline has a flight from Ireland to a nearby Breton airport, say Dinard or Rennes, that it promotes as a special all-in travel/festival package. (The Jersey ferry companies did something similar this weekend.) La Route du Rock gets an adrenaline shot of extra fans, who all spend their money in Saint Malo and thus sweeten the local government into writing a bigger cheque. With a bit of on-site advertising, the airline can attract young French people to Ireland. Et voilà: without having to support sweatshops or stockbrokers La Route du Rock can sell some extra tickets and look the bank manager in the eye again.

So, we might see more of you in Saint Malo next time.


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16

One of my favourite Beijing-based musicians, Jess Meider is great listening, just guitar and a great soulful voice that dips in and out on smartly penned numbers she’s put together in hang-outs down Beijing’s old hutong alleyways. She was down there the other night, at Yuggong Yishan to play some of her new songs. Take a listen to my favourite, So Simple, a simple acoustic job like the title suggests, on her Myspace page.

 

I often wonder why Beijing, for all its traffic grid-lock and ugly high rises, is such a magnet for creative westerners, who find form here. From small-town America, Meider teaches yoga in the daytime and plays gigs at night, and on Sunday afternoon jazz in several bands around town. This Berklee School graduate became a founder member of Junglecat when she moved to Beijing to learn Mandarin. Another one of those great Beijing experiences/existences and it’ll be worth going to her next gig, on August 26 at Luce Café, in hutong-land, Gulou.


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14

There’s opportunities for a “black man” on China’s live music scene, according to several ads appearing in recent editions of The Beijinger. The ads, which were placed by TaipingYang Eight, an agency that arranges gigs for ‘world’ music performers across China, promises RMB500 (less than EUR50) per gig and travel outside Beijing and China.

African band in China

                                                     Good work if you can get it: a car show in China

Now EUR50 a gig isn’t a fortune but if there’s a visa and housing involved – as is often offered by Chinese employers – it might be okay work for a travelling musician. Aside from the ‘positive discrimination’ overtones of the ad – Chinese people have referred to Europeans, not maliciously, as ‘big noses’ and Russians as ‘old hairies’ – but rather the circuit that the successful applicant will find himself on: token foreigner playing supermarket openings, restaturants and beer festivals around China, with stops to play provincial TV shows. I’ll be looking out for TaipingYang Eight.

Anyway, if you’re interested here it is:

 


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13

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

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited CLUAS.com to read this very article.