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:

24

The Irish Rock the Vote initiative has been getting a bit of a hammering from many quarters. And the criticisms – the banality / pointlessness of the videos, the refusal to advance even a single issue of importance to their target audience, the obsessive neutrality of everything they do, etc – are (no pun intended) rock solid.

Now it transpires that, as Rev Jules pointed out yesterday in his blog, their Executive Director has gone on the record that he does not expect a big increase in the turn out of 18-30 year olds...

It could have been all very different. Aside from apathy, non interest in politics, and a preference for spending one's time on the pull, there are two other key barriers to getting a greater proportion of 18-30 year olds voting. Yes, I'm talking about the old chestnuts...

  • Not being registered to vote (or being registered to do so in another part of the country from where you live / work / study),
  • The (since time-eternal) imposition of the party in power of a week day election.

Alas, Rock The Vote by launching only last month eliminated any possibility of having even a stab of a chance at breaking down either of these two well-established barriers. They've truly put the cart before the horse. Maybe if they had launched back at the tail end of the summer 2006 - just as the colleges were about to open for another academic year - they could have channeled their enthusiasm and considerable resources on getting the yuff of Ireland to register to vote (or move their registration to where they live/study/work) before the Nov 2006 December 2006 deadline for updating the voter lists. With that tackled (and in the process maybe bagging a bit of credibility and respect) they could have been well positioned to orchestrate a high profile campaign to heckle, bully and pressurize the Government into calling an election that, in line with most of continental Europe, actually fell on (God forbid) a weekend.

But forget the trite videos, forget the refusal to embrace a single issue of importance to 18-30 year olds, forget the enforced fence-sitting of the initiative. Because here is where for me it gets really, really insane: RTV's Executive Director is on the record as saying they that it is their strict policy "not to comment on the day we believe polling should take place"! To say I was gob smacked would be a massive understatement. They would not even be prepared to campaign for a weekend election day? Up to reading that I was prepared to give them a wide berth, with an assessment along the lines of them being a bunch of idealistic, enthusiastic, well-resourced, politically naïve, digital camera wielding 18-30 years olds who were averse to expressing the slightest of political views. Scrap That. With a capital S. And T. They have no credibility. No spine. No spunk. None. They do not represent the best interests of those they pander to.

I had planned to rant on about the pointlessness of the full page ad they had in yesterday's Tuesday's Irish Times (the vast majority of whose readers BTW are not even in their targeted demographic, and sure let's also gloss over the fact that the 24,670 euro cost of such an ad could – for example - fund 50 buses to ferry 2500 18-30 year old registered but exiled voters to their polling station in the boonies) but – really - why bother?

Rock the Vote had huge potenital but it was sure squandered in the hands of this crew.


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23
The Immediate, whose debut album In Towers & Clouds was well received by the majority of reviewers (one exception being CLUAS.com's Aidan Curran), announced this week that they were to split, citing “existential differences.”
 
Anyone attending an Immediate gig over the past year or so will not be surprised. The band; David Hedderman, Conor O'Brien, Peter Toomey and Barra Heavey, always came across as top heavy, all chiefs and no Indians. With each member having the ability to play each instrument, the band took the opportunity to showcase this ability after almost every song of their live set.
 
That’s not to criticize the band for being multi-talented, but it often felt like each member wanted to be the front man, and came across as bored when not in that position. For the most part this didn’t take away from the quality of their live shows, but there was always something in the background, an itch that one day was going to have to be scratched. However, while it’s a pity that a band with such promise has met its demise, their loss may well be our gain.
 
Four, clearly talented musicians, now have the opportunity to find a new vehicle with which to express themselves. Where In Towers & Clouds suffered from having too many influences, future releases by ex-Immediate members may well have a clearer sense of direction as the others interests and influences no longer need to be addressed.  
 
Fans of The Immediate need look no further that the demise of Juniper for inspiration. Damien Rice has gone on to find his own voice, one that, judging by album sales, has been heard by an awful lot of people that may never have bought a Juniper record. While not as successful, Bell X1 have also, since Junipers demise, carved out a loyal fanbase of their own, and, more importantly, Paul Noonan and Co. are now making the music they want to make.
 
Of course, the opposite may well happen.  Perhaps The Immediate equal more than the sum of their parts, and without each other the magic may is just not there. Either way, instead of getting the chance to hear one Immediate follow up album, we may get to hear four; surely some good must come from that?

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23

When I posted my views on Rock The Vote last week, a campaign to get the young people of Ireland to the polling station which was fronted by such political luminaries as RTE star Bosco, I received a number of welcome comments in reply, the most negative of which was by JoeC which claimed that , "Rock the Vote, like it or loathe, has been an amazing success...Rock the Vote is not about appearing cool to political aware culturally savvy questions and answers watching folk - it's about appealing to another group entirely. And if you look at their basic numbers they have done so."

Well, I have some bad news for you Joe. According to none other than Rock The Vote Executive Director Patrick Cosgrove in this morning's Herald A.M, "Many students are doing finals and wont be able to get home to vote if they live elsewhere". As an excuse for not voting in what promises to be a crucial general election, that's an excuse on a par with, "The dog ate my ballot card". Herald A.M goes on to say that the turnout on the 24th May could be the lowest in the History of the State and informs us that in the last election only 25% of 18 - 24 year olds in Ireland voted, compared to 80% in Sweden.

All I can say is: Cluas - 1, Bosco - 0

 


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20

A surfer mate of mine in Byron Bay first told me about these guys, a group of ultra tough surfers who take their name from an abbreviation of their local break; Maroubra aka 'Bra, and so 'Bra Boys.

According to the press release for the movie, “Bra Boys is a film about the cultural evolution of the inner-Sydney beachside suburb of Maroubra and the social struggle of its youth – the tattooed and much maligned surf community known as the Bra Boys. The story is narrated by Australian actor Russell Crowe and is told through the eyes of members of the Bra Boys. Central to the story is the true-life struggle of the Abberton brothers – Sunny, Koby, Jai and Dakota … one charged with murdering a Sydney standover man, another pursuing a professional surf career but charged as an accessory in his brother’s legal fight, another trying to hold the family together and a young brother whose inheritance is his siblings’ notoriety."

Now, what the PR release doesn't mention is that it was, for the most part, made by the Boys themselves. Variety Magazine wrote the picture off with the words, "A fatally one-eyed docu made by senior members of the working-class fraternity...The overall impression is that of an unconvincing PR exercise. Murky vid sources are cruelly exposed on 35mm, though the soundtrack rocks"

So far, so what. And what the hell does this have to do with music anyway? Well, first of all, the public perception of a surfer is half a century out of date and is mostly drawn from Brian Wilson's iconic songs depicting California surf culture. It's an innocent vision that has been recently repackaged in the various MTV 'reality' shows such as 'Laguna Beach' which focus on the lives and loves of rich kids in SoCal. The Bra Boys are the antithesis of that, their surfing exists within a world of neglect not privilege. As 3Seven7 sing on the soundtrack, "This is not South L.A, this is South Sydney / This is where we grew up / That's the corner where I first threw up"

Which brings is along nicely to the soundtrack that accompanies the film and which Variety concedes, "rocks". It's an all-Australian affair and couldn't be further from the Men At Work cliche that has dominated our popular view of Australian rock.

Here is the track listing:


Two Feet On The Ground - 3Seven7
Times We Had - The Camels
Ready To Brawl - 3Seven7
Steamworks - The Presets
Allstars - Def Wish Cast
It’s Hard To Speak Without A Tongue - Parkway Drive
Don’t Go To Sleep - Regurgitator
Reach - The Butterfly Effect
La Mar (The Ocean) - The Beautiful Girls
Too Far Gone - The Camels
Champion - Grinspoon
Bra Boy Warriors - 3Seven7
Causing Trouble – The Camels
My Brothers Keeper - Jamie Holt

 

 

Watch the trailer here.


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20

Cannes do: U2 perform at the Cannes premiere of 'U2-3D'

When they premiered the Rattle and Hum movie in Dublin in 1988, U2 came out onto the balcony of the Savoy Cinema and played a short set for their fans below on O'Connell Street.

The premiere of their second cinema release, U2 - 3D, was a bit more upmarket - a concert on the steps of the Palais des Festivals at Cannes.

The band played 'Vertigo' and 'Where The Streets Have No Name' before leaving the stage to attend the premiere of their film, which is due for general release later this year.

 Watch the short concert below:


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18

Jeff Tweedy WilcoThe latest email newsletter from Wilco has had me a bit perplexed ever since it hit my inbox.

A few lines in we’re told we can expect a “slightly serious tone (in) this note”. Okay. I put down the cornflakes. These guys now had my attention.

Reading on they invite us to listen to a stream of their new album ‘Sky Blue Sky’ and then to “take a moment to reflect” on the “dynamic” between themselves and their fans. There follows a riff about how some fans have lamented the “somewhat sad state of the music business” and have been asking Wilco to “consider changing the way (they) do things” and the band tell us they have refused to do so.

With that out of the way they then ask us to “go out next week and do the right thing for Wilco… and buy the record”.

I don’t know about you but I simply don’t know why a band as well established as Wilco with a solid, passionate - often obsessive - fan base thought it necessary to basically beg their fans to go out and buy their latest release. It’s true that some reviews of advance copies have varied from less than gushing to 'good but not their finest hour' but that’s not something likely to scare off your typical Wilco nut, someone who will be fully aware of the many layers a Wilco record typically has that need repeated listens to reveal.

The most likely explanation here is that Wilco fear MP3s of the album floating about the place will impact the sales. But it is that very scenario that really throws me. Hear me out.

A few years back Wilco put free downloads of the complete Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album on their website while they sorted out which label was going to release it. Tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of fans downloaded the album and – when it was finally released - many of us (myself included) went out and actually bought the album. And before you could say “I am trying to break the bank” it was the biggest selling album of Wilco’s career.

Roll on 2007 and Wilco seem to have done a complete U-turn and are - if we read between the lines of this begging letter - now in fear of MP3s. What’s going on? Why the shift? Maybe pressure from the record company (the quite excellent, often adventurous and in-for-the-longhaul Nonesuch label) to massage their fans into action in this way? Personally, I doubt it (and if there was such pressure Wilco surely would have resisted, if you think back to the ‘Our way or the highway’ attitude they took with their former record label when they asked for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to be re-recorded).

So all things considered, I for one am perplexed as to why they thought they needed to do this. If any one has insights into or ideas on this do please throw them into the comments below.


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17

The 60th Cannes Film Festival opened last night with the premiere of 'My Blueberry Nights', the film which marks the acting debut of jazz chanteuse Norah Jones.

Irish musicians will also be present at cinema's most illustrious shindig. Duke Special will play at the Irish Film Board's showcase reception, and John Carney's film 'Once', starring Glen Hansard, will be screened at the industry market.Bullet the big screen: U2's new concert film will be premiered at Cannes 2007

Most notable of all will be the premiere of 'U2 - 3D', a concert film chronicling the band's Vertigo tour as it travelled around South America in February 2006.

As the title suggests, the film is in 3-D - it will go on general release later this year. Let's just hope that it's better than 'Rattle And Hum'...

Here's the cinema trailer:

 


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17

Following on from the success of ‘Diary of a Debutante’, broadcast on TV3 in 2006, Paradise Pictures are now producing the ‘Diaries’ series and they are looking for a surfer to feature in their sports star episode. According to their press release,"Our aim is to capture the unique atmosphere of the surfing world in Ireland through the eyes of an Irish surfer. If you are a surfer in Ireland with a talkative personality and wouldn’t mind being on TV then We Want You! You don’t have to be the best surfer in the world but you do need to be working towards a specific event or competition this year."

For further information:

E-mail info@paradisepictures.ie Or Call 01-6610234


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16

We'll always have Paris: The Immediate

The Immediate, recent visitors to Paris, have split up. There's not necessarily a connection between the two events - although, mind you, The Doors were never quite the same after Jim moved here.

Anyway, courtesy of French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles and their regular Inrocks Indie Club concert nights, you can watch the band performing 'A Ghost In The House' live at La Maroquinerie in Paris on 19 April last. You need Real Player to see it - if you're at work, tell your boss you need it for a really flashy presentation or something.

Just follow this link, click on the song title and voila  - you don't even need to understand the French bits.


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15

1995: Newly-elected French president Jacques Chirac decides, as a first show of authority, to carry out nuclear tests in the South Pacific. The tests are met with worldwide protests.

Dropping the bombshell: Bono at the 1995 MTV Europe Music AwardsIn November of that year the MTV Europe Music Awards are staged in Paris. U2 are named Best Group, and Bono uses the occasion (see picture, right) to address a live TV audience of millions about the topical issue of the moment:

"What a city! What a night! What a crowd! What a bomb! What a mistake! What a w*nker you have for President! What are you gonna do about it?!? Tell me you're gonna do something about it!"

The crowd start boo-ing. You can just make out The Edge's gaping astonishment. Behind them, Adam is asking someone to explain it to him.

Since then, Bono's improved his manner of talking about world leaders.
 


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Nuggets from our archive

1999 - 'The eMusic Market', written by Gordon McConnell it focuses on how the internet could change the music industry. Boy was he on the money, years before any of us had heard of an iPod or of Napster.