The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Key Notes

13

Life is full of tough decisions; Monty Python or Father Ted, (not the real) Ronaldo or Messi, the Red Pill or the Blue Pill? However, these are decisions you can make yourself without the need to consult anyone or anything. But what happens when you have to take a decision that someone else has to agree 100% with? Key Notes faced this quandary recently when attempting to choose the song that would mark his marriage to Mrs. Key Notes. 

As those that were there will probably frustratingly attest to, the first dance was one of the few traditions that Mr. & Mrs. Key Notes were willing to adhere to in our recent nuptials. However, if Key Notes had of known it would have taken almost two years to decide on a song, it may have been another tradition he was willing to eschew. Having agreed that it had to be something both parties were happy with, a veto system was established. 

The first choices were Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper & Sarah McLachlan and Freewheel by Duke Special. Both were vetoed as being, respectively, "too soppy" – Mrs. Key Notes and "too popular now" – Key Notes (music is the one area of ones life where snobbery is acceptable). First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes was then suggested and for a while it seemed that it would make the grade, but it too was to fall by the wayside because of "musical differences".  With the wedding only a couple of weeks ago, and the DJ emailing on a daily basis for a decision, Key Notes was unsure if a compromise could be reached. 

However, Mrs. Key Notes, as is her way, was to come to rescue. "What about ‘South’?" she suggested absentmindedly one day. A furious search through one’s mp3 collection came to nothing and it was only thanks to Key Notes new Brother in Law/Son (don't ask!) that we were even able to listen to the song, let alone choose it.  However, upon first listen (Key Notes had heard the song before of course, but never considered it for this particular situation) the decision was made. Given the circumstances it was the perfect song, and Key Notes learned a valuable lesson that day; Mrs. Key Notes is always right! 

So here it is, South by Pilotlight, formerly Polar. 

Key Notes doesn't enjoy talking about himself, so would like to know what you chose/would choose as your first dance and why?

 


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11

"It's just interesting to make people pause for even a few seconds and think about what music is worth now. I thought it was an interesting thing to ask people to do and compare it to whatever else in their lives they value or don't value."

RadioheadThose are the words of one Jonny Greenwood, whose band, you may have heard, released a record yesterday.  They were in answer to the following question:  'Why give people the option to pay whatever they want?'  Posed by the New York based Gothamist blog.  It's rare for Key Notes to swear out loud in work but, upon reading Greenwood's comments, an expletive or two may have slipped out.

You see Key Notes, working as he does in the marketing industry, (and yes, thanks, he does know he's the spawn of Satan) was less than impressed with all this talk of Radiohead changing the face of the music industry and, alongside Promenade and other blogs, was very sceptical about In Rainbows and its 'revolutionary' method of distribution.   While yesterday was D (for download I assume?) Day for most of the interweb and blogosphere, Key Notes bored the soon to be Mrs. Key Notes to death lamenting the demise of CDs, of tapes, of vinyl and of Commodore 64's. 

'Cheap publicity stunts will be the death of music!' was one of the phrases uttered but, having read Greenwood's interview this morning, Key Notes is prepared, possibly for the first time ever, that it may have been wrong.  The thought of placing a value on what music is worth had just occoured before.  Key Notes, like most people, usually just buys its albums in the €15 to €25 price range, grumbles for a bit about 'rip-off' and forgets about it.  But to place a value of a piece of music, something that you may well have been waiting months or years for, well that's something totally different. 

Key Notes wonders then, of the thousands of people who paid very little or even no money for In Rainbows yesterday, how many of them consider the record as worthless or indeed, upon listening, how many regretted not paying more?  Of course, the answer is probably going to lie in the amount of people who order, or, more tellingly, don't order the Disc Box.  

However, Key Notes would be interested to know how much you paid for In Rainbows, and how much you think it is worth?  Answers on a postcard or you could just comment below.


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21

Congratulations to Key Notes readers Ciara Lee, Lena Sy and Graham Smyth who correctly answered (or googled!!) that the Future King of Spain is none other than Crown Prince Felipe of Asturias (or Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y de Grecia to his mates!)

Their prize, a pair of tickets to the launch of the Future Kings of Spain new album Nervousystem, will be distributed this afternoon.

Entry levels were very impressive (apologies to those who missed out) and so Key Notes hopes to run more competitions of this type in the near future.

In the mean time, for the winners and losers, here is a live video of Syndicate for your viewing pleasure:  

 


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20

To celebrate the launch of their long awaited second album, Nervousystem, the Future Kings of Spain have teamed up with Key Notes to provide CLUAS readers the chance to win a pair of tickets to their album launch night on 28 September in The Village, Dublin.

Key Notes has 3 pairs of tickets to give away to the first 3 people who correctly answer the following question.

What is the full name of the Future King of Spain (heir apparent - to give him his proper title)?

Answers on a postcard to keynotes@cluas.com

Rules:
Please note that this competition closes at midnight tonight and the judges (in this case Key Notes) decision is final.

The winners will be notified by email and announced tomorrow. 

Members of the Spanish Royal Family are automatically disqualified from entering this competition.


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10

It was Alexandre Dumas who said 'Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest.'  It was Key Notes who added 'Imbeciles were probably too busy texting in their votes for Ireland’s Greatest Living Musician.

Proving once again that the Irish general public should not be trusted to make decisions (see any General Election 1921-2007), Christy Moore has been awarded the mantle of Ireland’s Greatest Living Musician. Now, aside from the cruel jibe that he only knows nine chords and rations them to no more than three per song, the reality is that Christy Moore (as a music making entity at least) has been virtually retired for the last decade and will always be best known as an interpreter of other peoples music.

As a nation that prides itself on its musical ability, surely we could have come up with a musician more worthy of such a lofty title. While Key Notes has already made it clear that it thinks Neil Hannon is far more deserving of the award; it could also amass an endless (well at least twenty) list of musicians upon whose shoulders Ireland’s Greatest Living Musician would rest easily. 

Now, while Key Notes’ opinion of Christy Moore may be tempered by the fact that its Dad played nothing but The Christy Moore Collection 1981-1991 on every family holiday (from Lille to Lahinch) for four straight years, this blog still believes we can do better than this man as our Greatest Living Musician: 


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07

You may not know this, indeed you may not want to know, but Key Notes will be getting married in 57 days time. You're probably also unware of the fact that one of this blogs favourite bands is Biffy Clyro, a band who just happen to have a song called 57.

Feeling bored this morning; Key Notes set its mp3 player to random. What song should happen to play first? Yes, you’ve guessed it; Hannigan by Fairuza. However, 57 did pop up somewhere between Neil Young’s Rockin' in the Free World and Mercury Rev’s Opus 40. There is a reason why it's called random.

To mark the event, Key Notes proudly presents 57 as its inaugural Song of the Week: 


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05

The boys and girls behind the Mercury Music Prize clearly know more about music than we do. How else can you explain the decision to award 1995’s prize to Portishead above Oasis (Definitely Maybe), Supergrass (I Should Coco) or, if they wanted leftfield, Leftfield (Leftism). Portishead have gone on to produce approximately one studio album since winning the Mercury, showing that the judges faith in the band using the award as springboard for a glittering music career, (as the prize is designed to do) was incredibly ill-founded. 

1999 was another occasion when the Mercury judges showed us mere mortals how cool they really where when Talvin Singh usurped the likes of Blur, Beth Orton, Faithless and The Chemical Brothers to claim the award for his debut album OK. The problem with OK was just that, it was nothing more. Even 13, which, in Key Notes humble opinion, is Blur's weakest album, was more deserving of the nod that year. However, Singh ticked a number of pc boxes that the judges couldn’t ignore. Middleclass white boy rock just wasn’t hip enough anymore it seemed. 

And so we come to last night. The winners of the 2007 awards were (and lets hope you haven't taped it for viewing tonight) Klaxons for their debut, Myths of the Near Future. Now, far be it from this blog to predict the future, but as interesting (indeed as refreshing) as Klaxons are, it is very much the sound of 2006/7 and the fickle record buying public will shortly move on to whatever sound du jour our friends in NME and Hot Press tell them they should be liking in 2008.  They are hardly a band that we'll still be talking about in 10 years time.

Personally, Key Notes vote would have gone for Bat for Lashes. Fur & Gold is a lovingly and skilfully crafted collection of music veneered with haunting vocals and moments of pure unadulterated pop eccentricity not seen since Kate Bush disappeared over the top of that hill. It’s not the best album this blog has ever heard by any means, but it has longevity, a timelessness, that Key Notes just can’t hear in any of the other contenders for this year’s prize. 

With all that being said, music is about opinions, and an album one person hates could easily be another’s favourite and that’s why Key Notes believes we should stop all these silly awards, after all, the only real winners are the sponsors behind the prize. Tellingly, not many Mercury winners have gone on to forge massively successful careers (it’s too early to tell for The Arctic Monkeys). 

Over to you then dear readers. Who did you feel was most deserving of last nights award; or indeed, like Key Notes do you feel that music awards serve no greater function than promoting the awards sponsors (whom, you'll note, Key Notes has failed to acknowledge)?


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30

There are, of course, a multitude of various publications and online sources all vying for your attention when it comes to reviewing the latest album releases. Obviously, CLUAS is your first port of call, not least for the exceptional standards of critiquing on display. If, however, you happen to seek a second opinion, you can expect some of the following. Oh, and all while all the names below are figments of Key Note’s imagination, it unreservedly apologises for any offence caused if you happen to share that persons/bands name.

Singer Songwriter Positive Review

‘While Paddy Casey’….I mean ‘While Padraic Kirwin eschews the spirit of Nick Drake and others of his ilk, one can’t help but get the impression, especially on album opener Mojo Pinball, that the ghost of Jeff Buckley rests heavily on his shoulders.’ If the singer songwriter happens to be Irish, you can expect something along the lines of ‘Kirwin’s falsetto vocals and sparse guitar, particularly on the rarely covered Leonard Cohen classic, Hallelujah, reminds the reviewer of the passionate subtleties of a pre 9 Damien Rice.’

Singer Songwriter Negative Review

‘Another in the long line of singer songwriters to emerge with a guitar and a broken heart is Brian Merlehan. A pale impression of Jeff Buckley, Merlehan has the singer songwriters full repertoire of teen-angst, lost love and woe is me three chord tricks.’ If the troubadour is Irish, the reviewer will tend to throw in: ‘Damien Rice and the gazillion selling O have a lot to answer for.’

Band

If a reviewer likes a band, and that band happens to have a keyboard, then an absolute must in music critiquing is to compare them to Joy Division/New Order. If you don’t like the band, and they happen to have a keyboard, then it is equally acceptable to compare them to New Order/Joy Division.

Likewise, if your band has a piano you’re the new Coldplay/Chris Martin, this again can be both a positive and negative comparison. Irish bands tend to be compared with Whipping Boy (for successfully being accepted by both the indie crowd and the music press), Snow Patrol (for making dull, pretentious stadium rock) and U2 (for having a really short front man).

Finally, if you’re from Liverpool then you were obviously influenced by The Beatles, even if you are a 76 piece A Capella Punk collective.

So, that is Key Notes observations on the Irish music journalists take on The Album Review. Have you noticed any recurring themes the reviews you have read? 

 

 

 


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23

When writing about Limerick it’s all too easy to make cheap jokes at the expense of some of the counties, shall we say, less attractive elements. Now, Key Notes is not the kind of blog that likes to stick the knife in so it won’t. Instead it’ll have a stab at discussing Limerick’s role in the Irish music scene (okay, it's stops now, promise).

Limerick, home to Ireland’s fourth largest city, is at the very centre of the countries south western tourist region with the Shannon Estuary and Shannon airport playing important roles in attracting visitors to the region (though not from Heathrow). Musically, Limerick has provided the rest of the country an eclectic mix of talented and influential musicians and composers; Dolores O’Riordan, Bill Whelan, Richard D. James and Johnny Fean to name but a few.

While Dolores is still plugging away, her ex-Cranberries band mate Noel Hogan is working with Vesta Varro on a follow up to their debut album Exit Here. Despite being named on NME’s Hotlist for 2007, Vesta Varro are actually quite good. Wearing the influence of Matt Bellamy & Co.’s penchant for spine shatteringly explosive rock proudly on their collective sleeves, Vesta Varro are a band with masses of potential and in lead singer Damien Drea have a vocalist with the ability to make you forget what you were supposed to be doing, as happened me the first time I heard Coming Back.

 

On a totally different planet, never mind note, are Giveamanakick. The only way to truly experience what this band has to offer is in a live setting. I can still remember my first Giveamanakick gig, how could you forget seeing someone shouting into a gas mask! However, both Is it Ok to be loud, Jesus? and We are the way forward disappointed. This blog hopes that, having spent the past three years honing their skills with support slots to the likes of Deftones, Dinosaur Jr. and The Presidents of the United States of America, Giveamanakick’s third studio offering can finally live up to the verve and vivacity of their live shows. 

One of the great things about writing this blog is discovering something new and not being ashamed to admit to not hearing it before. This is the case with Headgear, a Limerick band (though not by birth) discovered by chance while this blog was conducting "research" in an establishment that may or may not have been a public house. However Key Notes heard about Headgear it's glad it did. Flight Cases, the sophomore release from the band contains my new favourite song, Harry Truman. An amalgamation of sounds that the band itself describes as ‘mongrel music’ there’s something about this band that suggests they have a lot to offer the Irish music scene and beyond. Below is the video for Singin' in the drain

As this blog continues its quest to find the best bands from outside Dublin it would appreciate your help. Who has this blog missed in Limerick? Also, this blog’s next stop will be Meath; any suggestions of bands to be featured can be mailed to keynotes@cluas.com

 


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17

Normally, this blog is the gentle, timid type. It takes a lot to get it angry; it takes even more to get it in such a state that it’s shouting at the radio while stuck in traffic on the N81, much to the bemusement of its fellow motorists. The reason for such apocalyptic rage? Cllr. Dessie Ellis of Sinn Féin.

Why, you might ask, is Key Notes discussing politics? It’s not, it’s discussing idiots. You see, Cllr. Ellis found the time to address the burning needs of his electorate in yesterdays ‘Irish’ Daily Mirror. His problem was that A Lazarus Soul have featured an image of Martin Cahill, aka The General, on the front of their new single The Day I Disappeared. Cllr. Ellis claims that this is ‘inappropriate’ and ‘sends out the wrong sort of message.’ However, and the reason why I was shouting at the radio, on Phantom yesterday evening, Cllr. Ellis admitted he hadn’t yet heard the song.

If he had taken the time to listen, rather than pontificate, perhaps he might not be so quick to judge. The Day I Disappeared discusses the loss of the ‘Ordinary Decent Criminal.’ It doesn’t portray them as heroes, but it does spark debate about whether Cahill and his ilk were ‘better’ than the ‘Younger, faceless, more sinister gangs’ the Gardai are failing to deal with today.

Of course, Martin Cahill was no saint; who is? What he was though, was the biggest fish in the murky pond at a time when we had crime under relative control, something that Graveyard of Burnt Out Cars, the album from which the track is taken, deals with in full. We used to think things were bad, and indeed they were, but they are a lot worse now. That is the theme of the album in general and this track in particular.

Now, it’s not for this blog to point out that Cllr. Ellis is a member of a party with extremely close links to the organisation that claimed responsibility for Cahill’s death. That information is already freely and publicly available. What this blog would like to highlight, however, is that politicians, and indeed people in general, shouldn’t be so quick to criticise a band/artist for a song they haven’t even heard.

Marilyn Manson isn’t responsible for kids shooting other kids, Elliott Smith (despite what this blogs mother might think) isn’t responsible for people killing themselves and A Lazarus Soul aren’t responsible for the gangland trouble we have today. Sparking debate and posing questions, while still composing a pretty accomplished indie-rock song, is something A Lazarus Soul should be applauded for, not criticised by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.


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Nuggets from our archive

2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.