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:

17

So, did you head along to Naive New Beaters at ALT on 6 June? As we mentioned, that NNBs show was the entrée to the main course of Let's French, the annual Dublin festival that celebrates France's national music day on 21 June.

Let's French 2009Let's French 2009 features a mix of live concerts and music films. It all starts tonight (18 June) with a screening of Daft Punk's Interstellar 555 at the Denzille Cinema on Denzille Lane. Later, the first concert of the weekend is by Parisian hip-hop crew DSL at the Andrew's Lane Theatre.

Tomorrow night (19 June) there's a special concert at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in honour of... Jacques Brel. (Yes, Jacques Brel was Belgian. You can take this up with the Let's French people yourself.) But the real treat is a screening at the Denzille of the film of Serge Gainsbourg's fabulous 1971 record 'Histoire De Melody Nelson', the greatest French album ever. A series of colourful and trippy videos for each track, featuring a too-cool Serge and a groovy Jane Birkin, it's a fantastic time capsule.

For any early risers on Saturday morning, at the crack of noon there's a screening of Louis Chedid's musical 'Le Soldat Rose' at the Denzille Cinema, then a family open mic show at the Alliance Française at 2 p.m. That night's concert at Twisted Pepper is the festival's centrepiece - electropoppers Housse De Racket.

On Sunday, Fête de la Musique day, there's another full journée of events. Have your brunch at La Mère Zou while listening to jazz. Then head to the Denzille Cinema again fro an afternoon double-bill: Jacque Demy's children's fairytale classic 'Peau d'Ane' with music by Michel Legrand and (for dragged-along fathers) starring Catherine Deneuve, followed by Alain Resnais' 'On Connais Le Chanson', a romantic comedy where characters sing along to classic French pop hits.

Finally, on Sunday evening there's a free Fête de la Musique concert at The Village featuring French singer-songer Marie Cherrier and Dublin's favourite French rockeuse Lauren Guillery.

Full details are on the Let's French website. Here's Housse De Racket with their 2008 single 'Oh Yeah':


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16

Key Notes will admit he has a soft spot for Oxegen, and not just because it takes place 20 minutes from his house.  Last year, not only did this blog have the honour of being the first person served a beer in the festival site but, more importantly, ensured that CLUAS was the first publication in the world to review Oxegen.  He's looking forward to the 2009 edition which will see Oxegen remain a four day event.  Punters who decide to stay on Thursday night will once again enjoy the likes of The Stone Roses Experience and AC/DC cover band, Hells Bells on the Thursday Night Live Stage as well as the return of the Headphone Disco and Campsite Funfair.

Friday July 10

Friday night on the Main Stage is really about one band and one band only.  Blur make their long awaited return to the live scene and lots of people like Key Notes, who grew up with Blur versus Oasis, will get very excited.  Snow Patrol are also playing the Main Stage while Oxegen Stage 2 features the likes of Therapy?, Duke Special and Keane. 2 Many DJs, Mogwai (both Heineken Green Spheres) and Ladyhawke (Red Bull Music Academy) are amongst the other highlights.

Irish interest on Friday revolves around Republic of Loose, Fight Like Apes and God Is An Astronaut, all of whom are playing Heineken Green Spheres.

Key Notes One to Watch: David Holmes (Red Bull Music Academy)

Saturday July 11

This blog's opinion on Kings of Leon is public knowledge but the Irish Public have voted and the band return to Oxegen to headline the Main Stage on Saturday night.  Of Far more interest to Key Notes will be the Main Stage performances of Elbow and SqueezeOxegen Stage 2is where the real action is on Saturday with the likes of Nick Cave, Doves, Eagles of Death Metal and The Gaslight Anthem all forming part of an eclectic line-up.

If none of those bands are for you then you could always check out Pete(r) Doherty and Regina Spektor (all Heineken Green Spheres) or Crystal Castles (Red Bull Music Academy).  Irish interest comes in the shape of The Blizzards (Main Stage), Director, C O D E S and And So I Watched You From Afar (all IMRO New Sounds Stage)

Key Notes One to Watch: Pet Shop Boys (Heineken Green Spheres)

Sunday July 12

The Main Stage plays host to The Killers on Sunday night where the audience can also see performances from The Specials and Ocean Colour Scene.  Elsewhere, Nine Inch Nails (in what could be the bands final Irish performance) and Jane's Addiction are sure to draw a big crowd to Oxegen Stage 2 as will Manic Street Preachers and That Petrol Emotion who both play Heineken Green Spheres. Those of you who feel like dancing can check out Felix Da Housecat and MSTRKRFT in the Oxegen Dance Arena.

The IMRO New Sounds Stage has some of the brightest and best in Irish music performing on Sunday.  Headlined by the brilliant Villagers, the stage also plays host of Concerto for Constantine (who put in one of the performances of the weekend last year), Wintersleep and Dark Room Notes.

Key Notes One to Watch: Villagers (IMRO New Sounds Stage)

For those of you who want to wake up hungover, tired and dirty on Monday morning, but having enjoyed a great weekend of music, tofu burgers and lobster sun tans, a limited number of weekend tickets are still available for Oxegen from the usual outlets.


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16

When I heard, saw Yu Tian playing an underground passageway in downtown Beijing I easily parted with the RMB20 (EUR1,90) for his self CD. His easy strumming and sad songs about love lost and whacky observations on China’s social development. The soft, sad voice and Morrisey-esque literariness both mean he’ll never be a big star in China. Stars here become stars by smiling when they bop about stage singing upbeat pop. 

Tunes like 'Ke Yu Bu Ke Qin' (Possible to Meet But Can't Beg For It) suggest a Bob Dylan fan but there's a much softer voice here, less political lyrics and a dreamy delivery that suggest a poet who's picked up a guitar to accompany musings under a willow tree in a Beijing park. If you're ever down at the computer marts in Chaoyangmen on a weekend, you'll usually find Yu in the subteranean passageway linking the BuyNow centre with the other side of the crazy highway (though it's called a 'street') that runs through this neighbourhood in high rise Chaoyang district.

 

 


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15
Although Bruce Springsteen’s songs tend to focus on highways, as Prefab Sprout slyly observed in their song ‘Cars and Girls’, it is a little known fact that in 1967 The Boss tried his hand at surfing in New Jersey.

According to his lifelong friend and band mate Steve Van Zandt however, Bruce did not have as much success with wave riding as he did with guitar playing. In an interview with wenn.com, Van Zandt’s opined that it was a bizarre hobby for Bruce to choose as surfing wasn’t cool in New Jersey at that time, “So we went to the beach so he could demonstrate it to me. He goes out. First wave, he gets up on it, falls off it, surfboard comes up and knocks out his front teeth. He comes in dragging the board, bleeding like he's had his throat cut. I told him I'd take a rain check on it."

In 2007, New Jersey blogger Paul Mulshine posted the following on his NJ Voices blog, “I was out at my favorite surf spot the other day....I was surprised to see Springsteen out there. He was ripping it up on a longboard. It's rare to see a local hero like that in the lineup.”

Notwithstanding Springsteen’s various forays into surfing, it is possible to embark on a surf quest from the East Coast of the United States down to Mexico stopping only at surf spots drawn from the titles of some of Bruce Springsteen’s songs. No less than five of Springsteen’s finest narrative ballads are set in places which boast surf spots of a reasonable quality.

Song #1: 4th of July, Ashbury Park (Sandy)
Surf Spot #1: Ashbury Park, NJ

Song #2: Atlantic City
Surf Spot #2: Atlantic City, NJ

Song #3: Galveston Bay
Surf Spot #3: Galveston Bay, TX

Song #4: Balboa Park
Surf Spot #4: Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Song #5: Sinaloa Cowboys
Surf Spot #5: Sinaloa, Mexico
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15

Happy Bloomsday! We hope you’ve been dipping into the great book today, perhaps even visiting the Martello Tower or other Dublin locations.

Guitar tuned to 'The D-E-A-D': James JoyceAs you may know, ‘Ulysses’ was published in Paris by Shakespeare and Co. – not the hip boho bookshop across from Notre Dame but the original store near the Odéon. And Joyce lived here for many years, finally leaving only because of the Nazi occupation.

There are flashes of Paris thoughout ‘Ulysses’, mainly because Stephen has just returned from the French capital as the story begins. He recalls meeting shady exiled Fenians in dark café-bars, remembers seeing wealthy traders on the steps of the Bourse, and he wants to put lemon in his tea. ('O damn you and your Paris fads', says Mulligan in exasperation to him.)

But what if Joyce had set ‘Ulysses’ in Paris rather than Dublin? It could have been done. There’s a famous tower here – not Martello but Eiffel. The Seine is as ‘snotgreen’ as Dublin Bay but you wouldn’t want to swim in it. Eccles Street, Bloom’s home, corresponds on the map to Le Marais, the traditional Jewish quarter of Paris. Stephen could expound his literary theories in the Sorbonne – perhaps blathering about Joyce to American academics. For Sandymount Strand in Dublin you have in Paris the banks of the Seine, where Stephen can stroll in contemplation and Bloom can do obscene things while spying on a young girl. (This is generally what goes on along the Seine most days and nights.) And for Night-town there’s Pigalle or Rue Saint Denis or the side-streets near Boulevard Haussmann or… lots of other places that we’ve been told about.

Tonight at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, Terence Killeen will discuss music in Joyce. Of course, CLUAS readers will already be experts on this subject, having read Rev Jules’ fine article on Joyce’s influence on popular music.

So, for the day that’s in it, here’s the Joyce-esque genius of Kate Bush and her Molly Bloom-inspired ‘The Sensual World’. The Fairlight production may be a bit dated but the track is still thrilling:

 


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14

As Steve McCroskey in one of Key Notes favourite movies, Airplane, Lloyd Bridges famously picks the wrong week to quit drinking/smoking/sniffing glue/amphetamines. This blog, however, seems to have picked the wrong fortnight to go on holidays. CLUAS has been quite the attention whore of late, grabbing almost as many headlines as celebrity marriage breakdowns, minus the fake tan and even faker breasts. The reason for all the attention was, of course, the publication of the CLUAS top 50 Irish albums of the last decade.

The thing about a list like this is that even if it was a list of the top 500 Irish albums of the last decade, you’d still have people; you know the type, indier-than-thou, who’d be asking why such and such a band/artist didn’t make it in. That’s understandable for two reasons; firstly, music is such a subjective topic (as this blog has written about many times before) and also because the Irish music scene is so bloody small that a lot of the ‘independent’ comment is from family/friends/members of bands who either didn’t make the cut or didn’t appear as high as they would like.

As music is so subjective it would be impossible to please everyone. Indeed, Key Notes’ own top 10 (which you can find at the bottom of this blog) is very different to the collective CLUAS top 10. However, democracy rules around these parts and Key Notes can find no fault with the system Eoghan put in place for the poll and this blog is pretty confident that 35 writers represent a fair cross section of the Irish listening public.

Regarding the incestuous nature of the Irish music scene, well there is very little you can do to combat that. The anonymity of the internet (when CLUAS launched that word still required a capital letter [/flashback]) means that it can be impossible to know how independent some of the comments on lists such as this might be. Personally, Key Notes has lots of friends involved in making music (some of which he likes, some of which he doesn’t) but can honestly state that he would never let that get in the way of his appraisal of the quality of a band/album, and not just because he has to put his name to everything he writes.

However, that’s enough comment on the comment the CLUAS top 50 list received. What does Key Notes think of the list itself? Well, as already stated, his top 10 would look quite different. Upon reflection, it’s perhaps not surprising that the top 3 were such ‘safe’ albums. A great deal of all music produced represents a current scene or trend and tend to burn brightly for a short time before fading into obscurity whereas the tried and tested formula of four blokes with guitars seems to be eternally popular.

Kudos to Eoghan for all the work put into the poll (when you have people like Key Notes who struggled to put their list into any sort of order then you have to have lots of patience!) and, while Key Notes might not agree with the final order, he was never going to.  Music is too subjective for that and this site would be very boring if we all had the same opinions!

Key Notes' Top 10 Irish Albums Of The Past Decade:

1. Future Kings of Spain - Future Kings of Spain
2. Damien Rice - O
3. Roisin Murphy - Overpowered
4. Alphastates - Made from Sand
5. JJ72 - JJ72
6. Turn - Forward
7. The Dudley Corporation - In Love With The Dudley Corporation
8. Snow Patrol - When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up
9. Bell X1 - Music in Mouth
10. Iain Archer - Flood The Tanks


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14

Artist: Cois Cladaigh Chamber Choir
Album: Lux Aeterna
Year: 2000

Artist: Juliet Turner
Album: Burn The Black Suit
Year: 2000

Artist: Skindive
Album: Skindive
Year: 2001

Artist: Sean Millar
Album: Tarzan's Ambition
Year: 2002

Artist: Pauline Scanlon
Album: Red Colour Sun
Year: 2003

Artist: Clive Barnes
Album: Goldtooth Cinnamon
Year: 2003

Artist: Bray Vista
Album: When I Get There {EP}
Year: 2004

Artist: Bap Kennedy
Album: The Big Picture
Year: 2005

Artist: Bell X1
Album: Flock
Year: 2005

Artist; David Lyttle
Album: True Story
Year: 2007

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12

The most significant aspect of the list as far as Sound Waves is concerned is how little hip hop appears to have influenced the Irish music scene compared to other European countries such as England and France and that is strange when you consider how influential punk was on previous generations of Irish bands such as the embryonic U2 who have cited a concert by the Clash in Belfast as a formative influence. It is not as if Irish musicians have been starved of opportunities for hearing the music, given the predominance of it on television and radio and the opportunities to see leading practitioners such as Kanye West, Snoop Dogg and Eminem play live dates in Ireland.

Instead, the dominant direction of Irish music during a period of unprecedented affluence in Ireland's history has been the kind of soft rock, singer/songwriter fare that previously emanated from 'Post Golden' California in the 1970s. It might be stretching things to say this but Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan and Glen Hansard may just be the Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell of Celtic Tiger Ireland; the Laurel Canyon sound replaced by the Killiney Bay wail, The Troubadour at Santa Monica Boulevard replaced by Whelans on Wexford Street.

Stay stoked
The Reverend Jules Earl Jackson
Damien Rice, live at The Troubadour
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11

It might be hard to play but the danyen is worth learning.  Sounds like a banjo, three double strings. American broadcaster NPR did a lovely piece on street players who pluck the instrument on the streetside in Lhasa and Tibet's other few sizeable towns. It sounds like the blues, said NPR reporter Jack Chance. And it surely does, strummed to songs about farming, yak herding, lost love and occupation of the last five six decades. I spent an hour with grubby old men and defiant-faced youths on the streets surrounding the Jokhang temple, Lhasa's main prayer retreat. My photo below comes from a book about Tibet's dying crafts (much of the tourist baubles sold in Tibet are made in India or Nepal) was published in a book produced by the Dropenling craft centre in Lhasa. Showcase of the Tibetan Crafts Initiative, which protects local craftwork, the Dropenling sells danyens in various states for ornamentation from US$100. Sales are brisk, say staff - tourists like them for mantlepieces back home. Young nationalistic Tibetans meanwhile have taken to the banjo-like acoustic sounds of this lovely instrument to keep and show their traditions in a wave of a Mando-pop and Canto-pop from the Chinese lowlands.

 


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11

Anatomy of the writers pollThe CLUAS writers poll to find the best Irish releases of the last 10 years has, as I expected, sparked off quite a bit of commentary (I particularly enjoyed The People's Republic of Cork forums and the comments section of Jim Carroll's On The Record blog).

No matter what one makes of its results I can say it was a considerable, but worthwile, effort to pull the poll together. It was worth that effort alone to see the poll results reveal (definitively of course) that 2001-2002 was the vintage period for Irish music in the last 10 years. For those of you enjoyed the number-crunching that delivered such a conclusion here below are some more numbers on the poll:

  • 35 writers cast a vote in the poll
  • 9 of these writers were "CLUAS Alumni" who haven't written anything for the site in over 5 years but were active in our first half decade. The remaining 26 writers who voted only got published on CLUAS for the first time in the last 5 years.
  • A total of 280 votes were cast, meaning...
  • ...each voter cast a preference for an average of 8 albums (no writer voted for less than 3 albums, nor for more than 10)
  • Approx 130 different albums were voted for.
  • 55 albums secured votes from 2 or more writers
  • 30 albums were voted by just 2 writers, therefore...
  • 25 albums were voted by at least 3 writers.
  • 9 acts managed to get two albums into the list and they are The Divine Comedy, The Frames, Simple Kid, David Kitt, Cathal Coughlan, David Holmes, U2, The Tycho Brahe and JJ72).
  • Since its inception 40 albums have been shortlisted for the Choice Music Prize. Of these, 27 secured at least one vote in the poll but only 11 made the top 50.
  • There was only one point seperating the no. 1 and no. 2 albums in the poll!

Next week, in the second part of this 'poll anatomy', I'll publish the list of albums that were outside the top 50, all 80+ of them.


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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.