The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Key Notes

14

Fear not, Key Notes hasn't gone the way of Zavvi or Lehman Brothers.  No, instead it was writing of a different variety, a hole in his leg and an addiction to appreciation of online poker that has distracted him. The O2

The 'new' Point
Christmas and New Year proved a quiet time gig wise but Key Notes did get his first 'audience member' look at the O2.  First off, it's a cracking venue and though he was there to see a comedy act it was clear that the set up is such that there really isn't a bad seat in the house.  Sound wise it also proved top notch.  Indeed Key Notes only complaint about the whole set up is that he had to choose between parking in Fleet Street and walking for 30 minutes or paying 15 recession Europe's to park near the venue only to get stuck in traffic before and after the event.  That and the branding...those blue lights will give you a headache.

Choice Music Prize Nominations
It's that time of year when the Choice Music Prize judges announce their shortlist and blogs around the country react with fury as to why their favourite band artist hasn't been selected.  Key Notes is no different and is surprised that neither Ham Sandwich nor The Dudley Corporation managed to make the cut.  However, it seems that most of the criticism this year comes from the selection of The Script, purveyors of heavily produced 'OC soundtrack' music that, while it might make teenage girls (and Key Notes' friend Jo) weak at the knees, has no place on a list that contains the beauty of Lisa Hannigan's Sea Sew and the genius of David Holmes' The Holy Pictures.

The shortlist in full is:

Fight Like Apes - Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion (Model Citizen)
Mick Flannery - White Lies (EMI)

Halfset - Another Way of Being There (Casino Gravity Records)

Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew (Own label)

David Holmes - The Holy Pictures (Canderblinks)

Jape - Ritual (Co-Op)

Messiah J & The Expert - From The Word Go (Inaudible)

Oppenheimer Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It (Fantastic Plastic)

R.S.A.G. - Organic Sampler (Psychonavigation)

The Script - The Script (Sony Music)

Key Notes thinks that The Script will be early favourites with the redtops and Fight Like Apes with the public but that it will end up like last year and they'll draw a name out of a hat when the panel can't choose between the two best albums on the list (Disclaimer: this probably didn't happen last year and the best album won...probably).  Of this list, Key Notes wouldn't mind if Lisa Hannigan, David Holmes or Jape walked away with the prize

A Sorry State of Affairs
It comes as no surprise (indeed Key Notes was told before Christmas that it was 'probably' going to happen as advertising income was 'below expectations') but the end of State magazine as a printed publication brings to an end an interesting period in Irish music journalism.  It's appearance certainly made Hot Press up their efforts but its demise is a reflection of both global economic conditions and an inertia amongst advertisors who, when faced with a choice between something new and risky and something established and safe will always choose the safe option. 

Key Notes for one, would like to wish State best of luck in its online only guise but if you're looking for a website that offers the best in reviews, blogs, discussion and news then CLUAS in 2009 is the only site you'll need.


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04

Key Notes Top Ten Irish Albums: 8

Alphastates - Made From Sand

Don't you think that it's all rather strange?  So sings Catherine Dowling on Made From Sand's opening track, 'Round Here.  She's wrong though, there's nothing strange about appreciating the quality of this album.

Key Notes first encountered Alphastates in the old Temple Bar Music Centre at Hard Working Class 2004.  Those of you familiar with the old venue will remember that the stage/gig area was separated from the bar area by two very heavy doors and so moving a round of drinks from one section to the other meant relying on either the kindness of strangers or the growth of an extra limb.  Walking through the double doors that night Dowling's vocals stopped this blog in it's tracks.  Subsequently, Key Notes has seen Dowling's vocals described as everything from 'honeydripping' to 'breathy' but that night, this blog could only use one word, sultry.

As it turns out, that was description was reinforced upon purchasing Made From Sand.  This album oozes sexuality to the extent that it should come with an 18 rating.  Much like this particular blog in fact as Key Notes can best describe Made From Sand as the musical equivalent to spending a stormy winter evening in the company of a beautiful woman, in front of an open fire, with a nice bottle of red wine left to breathe on the coffee table and clothes being an optional extra.  Thanks largely to the production genius of Karl Odlum, Made From Sand achieves this sound by crowning a multi-layered musical landscape with Dowling's captivating vocals.

As is usually the case with great albums, it's difficult to pick a favourite song on Made From SandKiss Me is probably the standout track, though not by much.  Dripping with sexual tension, this song is tailor made for a movie soundtrack.  Well, as long as the story of that movie involves a boy who says he loves a girl but doesn't really do anything about it until, alas, it might be too late.  You know, pretty much the story of about 100 movies per year.  Sometimes and Indian Sky are also worth mentioning as being possibly the only songs on the album where Dowling's voice is not the focal point and yet neither song appears out of place.  Speaking of special mentions, CLUAS' own Andy Knightley is mentioned in the sleeve notes (yes, Key Notes always reads the sleeve notes).

It's four years since the release of Made From Sand and Alphastates have, unfortunately, failed to deliver an LP since.  New album Human Nature is due out in February 2009 and, if the lead single of the same name is anything to go by, it will see the band moving in a new direction.  Key Notes' will reserve judgement until he hears the entire album but, whatever direction Alphastates decide to take, they have already delivered one of Irish music's most unique albums and the world is a better place for it. 

Alphastates - Kiss Me


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16

Key Notes Top Ten Irish Albums: 9

Microdisney - The Clock Comes Down The Stairs

While Microdisney's We Hate You South African Bastards! is probably the greatest title of any Irish album,The Clock Comes Down The Stairs - Microdisney there is no denying that The Clock Comes Down The Stairs is the greatest section of Cathal Coughlan and Sean O'Hagan's combined discography.  Released in 1985 the album went on to be voted the best album of the decade by The Sunday Tribune newspaper in 1989.

Now, given the fact that Key Notes was 3 when the record was recorded it's fair to say this blog didn't purchase it upon its release.  Indeed, don't tell anyone but Key Notes' first version of this LP was a tape of a tape (in the days when taping music was going to kill the industry; sound familiar?).  This blog has since got his hands on a vinyl version by chance.  Key Notes was actually 'googling' something completely different (a piece of art if you must know) and was asked 'Did you mean The Clock Comes Down The Stairs?'  He didn't as it happens, but the name evoked images of evenings spent recording and listening to mix-tapes.  A copy of the LP would soon be winging its way to Key Note Towers.

What this blog loves about this LP is its sense of humour.  Tracks such as Genius and Horse Overboard drip with sarcasm.  Other stand-out tracks include Goodbye - It's 1987, Birthday Girl and A Friend With A Big Mouth.  It's hard to pick a favourite track from this album but, if a gun was placed to Key Notes' head, he'd have to pick Genius:  'You're a genius, you're a giant, you're a prince, you are the Pope, the things you feel are just a joke, so burn, burn, burn.'  Listen to it just once and then try get it out of your head for the rest of the day.  It's, well, genius.

The Clock Comes Down The Stairs was perfect Celtic Tiger music even though it was written well before this countires boom years.  This was music for disaffected outsiders in a land full of pretention.  Fair enough, it was written in 1980's London but the sentiments expressed on the LP applied just as much to Ireland in the 90's and the Naughties.

Microdisney - Birthday Girl


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12

Key Notes has been somewhat depressed lately.  It could be any number of things; post holiday blues, the prospect of becoming a 'long-term unemployed' statistic or, most likely, because this blog has been reading far too much Kafka.  Existentialism is not healthy in that dosage.  

Whatever the reason, Key Notes has always taken comfort in music and it's been no different recently.  To cheer himself up, this blog has started switching from his dated (no pun intended) chrono-biographical album filing system to a less manageable but more rewarding geographical filing system.  Key Notes realised two things when doing this.  Firstly, he clearly has far too much time on his hands and secondly, Irish artists take up a huge part of his record collection.  Therefore, it's about time he started talking about his favourite Irish albums.

One thing this blog would like to make clear before he starts this series is that this is his personal opinion and so Key Notes doesn't want to read any comments telling him he's wrong.  Right, now that we've got that out of the way lets start.

Key Notes Top Ten Irish Albums: 10

Róisín Murphy - Overpowered

RM OverpoweredThis is the most recent and, to Key Notes' friends at least, most surprising entry on the list.  Released a little over a year ago to much critical acclaim, Overpowered, as is often the case with albums that do, failed to trouble the chart compilers, reaching only 51 in the Irish charts.  This is nothing new to Murphy whose 2005 solo debut, Ruby Blue, confounded even her own record company who, rather harshly, considered it a flop.

In 2006 she parted company with Echo Records and signed for EMI.  It's surprising that a company as historically cagey as EMI took a risk on someone as eccentric as Murphy but with Overpowered she has rewarded their support ten-fold.  Fair enough, it didn't sell that many records over here (about 40,000 in Britain) but upon its release in the US, penciled in for later this year or early 2009, Key Notes is sure Murphy's blend of arthouse disco will find a willing audience.  Indeed, her double A-Side single of Movie Star and her version of the Brian Ferry song, Slave to Love, recently went to #3 in the Billboard Singles Chart.

Ironically, Movie Star is this blogs least favourite song on the album, sounding more like the work of Alison Goldfrapp than Arklow's most famous daughter.  Indeed, despite all the great work put into this album by the likes of Groove Armada it is Murphy's own personality and extraordinary voice that makes it one of Key Notes favourite Irish records. At times gleeful (Footprints), at times chilling (Dear Miami), it is always entertaining, no more so than on Overpowered and on this blogs favourite song, You Know Me Better.  Overpowered is the kind of album that Ray of Light era Madonna and Homogenic era Bjork would make if they invented a time machine and collaborated in the cloak room of some 70's roller-disco.  That Murphy can sound that unique is a testement to her and Overpowered's genius.

I'll leave you with the brilliant Observer Music Monthly's description of Overpowered as being full of 'bubbling, sensual, and soulful glitterball gems (that) effortlessly tap into the perennial glory of feeling lost and lonely at the disco at the end of the world.'  That it is only 10th on this blogs list shows the quality of albums to come.

Róisín Murphy - You Know Me Better


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24

Remember when Key Notes told you about Escape Act's innovative release strategy for their album?  Well, for those of you that don't, the Belfast band have taken to releasing all the tracks from their debut album, Loosely Based on Fiction, through some of Ireland's top music blogs.

The last track, Jupiter Storms, for example, was released through I Heart AU.

Key Notes was honoured to be asked to be part of this new and exciting approach to releasing music and today brings you the latest track for release, Laid Open.  It's a wonderful slice of indie pop which examines city life through the eyes of three Belfast boys.   

Download Laid Open now.

To check out the four songs already released, please see here.  


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21

As you may or may not know indiecater is an offshoot of the mp3hugger blog and, while they initially concentrated on releasing compilations, the focus has recently switched to bringing the past back to life, starting with Red Star Belgrade's debut, Where the Sun Doesn't Shine.

Now though, the guys have moved closer to home by focusing on Sunbear's self-titled debut LP.  The album remains an prime example of a young band pulling out all the stops to dramatise what was buzzing around their heads.  Alas, fame and fortune were not to be and Sunbear soon faded from the limelight.  Their demise did spark the formation of the excellent Ruby Tailights though, so it's not all bad. 

As only 1,000 copies of Sunbear were released in 2004, not many people got to hear it.  Now though, indiecater has made Sunbear available for download for a recessionary-proof price of €3.50 (no 1% or 2% levies or means tests required here!).

You can download it here.

Oh, and though Kevin over at mp3hugger was playing his cards very close to his chest, rumour has it that a number of forgotten Irish records will see the light of day again before Christmas.  Key Notes is very excited at this prospect.

Sunbear:  Notebook


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13

There's a recession on you say?  Really? You wouldn't have known it with the calibre of international acts visiting Ireland in Rocktober 2008.  Everything from 80's synth pop to hill-billy rock is catered for and it all gets underway with potentially the greatest single gig Ireland will experience this year.

The headliners might be Los Campesinos! but you can bet your last recession euro that a significant portion of the crowd will be equally attracted by 'lo-fi Ohio fuzzmisters' (to quote GOTF) Times New Viking and LA's finest punk two piece, No Age.  Los Campesinos! are, of course, the Welsh seven-piece who formed in Cardiff University in 2006 and released Hold on now, Youngster... to great acclaim in February of this year.  Not a band for resting on their laurels, this tour is timed to coincide with the release of their sophomore effort, We are Beautiful, We are Doomed, on October 27.  Yes, that's two albums in 33 weeks!  The gig, which is part of the Drowned in Sound Shred Yr Face Tour takes place in Whelan's on Friday October 17.

Los Campesinos!You! Me! Dancing!

One of the greatest peformances Key Notes has witnessed this year was from Holy Fuck at Oxegen.  Canada's finest export play The Academy on Monday October 20.  For those of you who don't know anything about Holy Fuck, they've been described as 'creating the equivalent of modern electronic music without actually using the techniques—looping, splicing, programming and the like—of that music.'  It's jaw-dropping stuff to see them live and Key Notes cannot recommend a better way to spend a wet Monday evening in October.  In fact, Key Notes can't think of better way to spend any evening in any month than watching a band at the very top of their game and whose talents can only spark one reaction: Holy Fuck!

Holy FuckMilkshake

Described as one man blues phenomenon, Seasick Steve will now play The National Stadium on Wednesday October 29.  This gig was originally to take place in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art but the indoor venue will better suit the California native's unique blend of bluesy hill-billy rock.  The one-stringed guitar hero is in town to support his appropriately titled new album, I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left.  Tickets remain available for this gig for €10 less than they were orginally priced.  However, it should be noted that Amy Lavere has replaced My Morning Jacket as support for this gig.  My Morning Jacket will instead play a headline show in Tripod on the same night.

Seasick Steve:  Dog House Boogie

Also visiting these shores this month are Cyndi Lauper (Savoy Cork, 17 October), Human League (Tripod, 26 October) and Noah & The Whale (Whelan's, 28 October).

If there's anyone Key Notes has missed, and there's bound to be, please feel free to plug them in the comments below. 


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07

Firstly, Key Notes would like to extend it's apologies.  Rocktober.  It's an awful title for a blog about music in October.  Awful because it is so obvious.  Perhaps something along the lines of Octoberfestivities may have been more original but as most of Key Notes' free time is spent looking for a job these days, you'll have to make do with Rocktober.

Lots of things happening with Irish bands this month. C O D E S (or possibly CODES/Codes???) launch their excellent new single Guided By Ghosts in The Button Factory this Friday, October 10 with doors opening at 8.30.  If you haven't yet, check this band out and see if you agree with the (it must be said, eloquent) quote on their Myspace, which states that C O D E S create grandiose sonic landscapes painted in painstakingly minute detail.  Ok, ok, so it was a quote from this blog but it is really true.  You heard it hear first; this band is destined for greatness.

C O D E S:  This is Goodbye

Another band whom Key Notes cannot recommend highly enough is The Dudley Corporation; whose long awaited (four years lads, come on!) third album, Year of the Husband, just gets better with every listen.  As an aside, oh how Key Notes laughed when it heard the name of the new album.  You see, earlier this year this blog attended a friend's (Puddin'!) wedding that was also attended by Joss Corporation.  It becomes very difficult to review a band when one of its members has seen you (try to) dance!  Anyway, A mini-tour of Ireland kicks off on 16 October in Whelan's and takes in dates in Mullingar, Kilkenny and...well, that's it really.  Well worth checking out though if you're within a 400 mile radius of any of the venues. 

The Dudley Corporation:  What a Human Does

Le Galaxie will debut new single, You Feel The Fire!, on 31 October 2008 in Crawdaddy.  Key Notes understands that this is to be a late performance, in keeping with the fact it's Halloween and that fancy dress, especially those choosing to dress as indie music gig-goers, is actively encouraged.  Wear a scarf though, it'll be cold.  For those of you that don't know, Le Galaxie are, of course, the remaining members of the much loved, much missed, 66E.  Big boots to fill, but Key Notes is confident they can do it.

Le Galaxie:  We Bleed the Blood of Androids

Also playing this month and more than worthy of a mention are Jape (The Button Factory, 9 October), The Flaws (Dolan's, Limerick, 11 October) and Crayonsmith (Whelan's, October 31) 

If Key Notes has left anyone out (probably lots) feel free to plug them in the comments below.


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02

On Monday November 10 2008, Belfast trio Escape Act will release their debut album Loosely Based on Fiction.  So what you say; bands release records all the time.  Ah yes, but following on from Oasis' free sheet music giveaway, Escape Act will release each and every song from the album online via a series of blogs.  The first track, Kings have Fallen was released on MP3Hugger on September 27 and the next track will be released on BoxSetGo this weekend.

After that tracks will be released weekly with directions as to where to get your next fix been given on the band's website www.escapeact.com.  Apropos of nothing it may be worth your while checking out Key Notes on the weekend of October 25/26.

Should you decide you like what you hear then a limited number of CD's will be available to purchase, each with an individually customised booklet.

Given how many bands Key Notes hears complaining about the lack of methods of distribution available it is a pleasant surprise to see a band take such an innovative step and this blog certainly wishes them all the best.

Escape Act:  God Says


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01

Key Notes was saddened to hear that Derrick Dalton (Mexican Pets, Crumb, Hey Paulette) passed away this week.

Key Notes didn't know Derrick personally but this blog was well aware of his support for, and influence on, the Irish music scene through conversations with fellow bloggers, musicians and fans alike.  An illegal cassette version of Mexican Pets' Nobody's Working Title was one of Key Notes favourite records around the mid 90's and for us humble fans it is through his music that Derrick will be remembered.

Sincerest sympathies from Key Notes and all at CLUAS to Derrick's wife, family and friends.

Crumb: Follow Me Home 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Pets: Stigmata Errata 

 


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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.