The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Key Notes

15

It's time to play the music
It's time to light the lights
It's time to meet the nominees for the Meteor Awards tonight.

Ah award season.  There's nothing like dusting down the old penguin suit and getting ready for the glitz and glam that comes with reporting from the front line of the Irish music scene.  In the coming weeks we have The Choice Music Prize and, eh, Eurosong 2008 [Insert own turkey gag here], but tonight the Irish music scene gather to give themselves one big collective pat on the back at the 2008 Meteor Awards.

The Meteors, or the Meteor Ireland Music Awards to give them their proper title, are a uniquely Irish event.  Westlife, for example, have won the Best Irish Pop Act category every year since its inception.  Ray D'Arcy, despite playing very little music, has a similar hold over the Best Irish DJ category.  Key Notes isn't a betting man - indeed the last time he bet on a horse it died, not figuratively, but literally, while leading with just 100 metres to go! - but you could get very short odds on both these categories being awarded to familiar faces tonight.  What is it about Irish people and their ability not just tolerate rubbish, but to reward it?

Conversely, this years Meteors have the potential to be the "indiest" Meteors yet.  HypeFight Like Apes are up for Best Irish Band alongside Future Kings of Spain, The Flaws and Delorentos.  If there is any justice in the world Cathy Davey should walk away with Best Irish Female, while Glen Hansard's Oscar nomination is likely to be enough to see him secure the award for Best Irish Male.  With Paddy Casey the only pop act in the running it is also likely that the award for Best Irish Album will go to an indie act. 

The following is a run down of who Key Notes thinks should/will walk away with the main Prizes tonight:

Best Irish Band
Will:  Fight Like Apes
Should:  Future Kings of Spain

Best Irish Album
Will:  Tales of Silversleeve - Cathy Davey
Should:  Tales of Silversleeve - Cathy Davey

Best Irish Male
Will:  Glen Hansard
Should:  Duke Special

Best Irish Female
Will:  Sinead O'Connor
Should:  Cathy Davey

Key Notes would love to hear what you think about the Meteors.  Who do you think should win what?  Do you care or are award nights just an excuse for musicians to get drunk cheaply? Whatever you think, feel free to leave a comment below.


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13

Key Note Speaker returns after an extended winter break.  Contrary to rumours printed elsewhere, that break did not involve enjoying the après ski with a bevy of beautiful models in Aspen.  No, instead Key Notes has been diligently tapping up bands and musicians from around the world to become Key Note Speakers. 

The first Key Note Speaker of 2008 is Kilian Pettit of Cork band EchoGram.  2007 saw EchoGram's debut single Conspiracy reach No. 1 on the downloadmusic.ie weekly chart and the band being named Today FM Rising Artist of the Week.  An impressive accomplishment for an unsigned band with no management.

Favourite Songs from the Past Year 
All the best tunes last year were either pop or electronic, but I can't single any one song out. I can't remember liking any rock songs last year, even though the Jimmy Eat World album was ok

Favourite Song Ever
Something by U2 or Depeche Mode, though I don't know what. Maybe One (I know it's a cliché), or Enjoy the Silence. Smells like Teen Spirit also blows me away though

Favourite EchoGram Song
Probably Everytime I Fall. It's a really simple song, written on an acoustic guitar but the recording sounds huge.  You can check it out on YouTube:

Favourite New Band/Artist 
Nothing has really grabbed me yet in 2008, but it's still early

Favourite Band/Artist Ever
Again, it's going to be U2 or Depeche Mode. I do think Billy Corgan is a musical powerhouse though. I also love Deftones as well as most non-retro electronic artists

Favourite Gig This Year 
The only one I've been to so far this year is The Smashing Pumpkins in the RDS

Favourite Gig Ever
It's either Popmart in 1997 or Soulwax at the Electric Picnic in 2005. The sheer scale of Popmart blew me away, so impressive. Soulwax were fantastic though, because all the ravers and metallers were going for it together, something I want for my band too. It was such a great atmosphere

Favourite EchoGram Gig Ever
The Cork show of the 2fm 2moro 2our was amazing. Everyone seemed to be singing the songs back to the stage, it was like waves washing over us

Favourite Venue
I think Cyprus Avenue in Cork is the best venue in the country for it's size. They really have the sound and lighting sorted, I've spent so many great nights there.

Favourite Piece of Musical Equipment
My first acoustic guitar. It's a Hohner, it's a piece of sh*t, but I keep using it. It's so familiar as I learned to play the guitar on it. I always feel very comfortable with it, it's like my security blanket

Download or CD/Cassette/Record
CDs, man! Cassettes are vinyl are before my time. Downloads are ok, but the quality is just nowhere near as good

Favourite TV Show at the Moment
Rescue Me with Denis Leary is the best show around! It has everything: action, drama, comedy, sorrow and loads of sex. The main character is pretty loathsome, but every now and then he'll trick you into thinking he's a nice guy

Best Movie Ever Seen
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind brought a tear to my eye, something that I'd never experienced until then. I just saw Children of Men, I'd rate it as almost highly

Greatest Book Ever Read
A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle. Check it out

Most Listened to Radio Show
Dan Hegarty on 2fm. He's played a lot of EchoGram on his show which is great, but even if he hadn't I'd still think he plays the best music on radio.

What’s in Store for EchoGram Next
I've just secured US and UK management for the band, so we're working on the right deals in London and LA at the moment. Work on the debut album is going to start pretty soon, and we'll be playing a lot of shows in the next few months.


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12

 

The fact that a developed country such as Ireland - Childline Rocksso often voted one of the best places in the world to live in those ridiculous surveys - still needs an organisation such as Childline, run by the ISPCC, is a telling reminder of the inability of so-called civilised society to use its economic opulence to provide for the weakest and most vulnerable in its midst’s.

However, socialist tendencies aside, Key Notes suggests that paying a visit to Childline Rocks will do more than abate your guilty conscience.  The promoters of the event promise a seven hour musical extravaganza with performances from Choice Music Prize nominees Cathy Davey and Super Extra Bonus Party and Meteor Nominees Future Kings of Spain and Ham Sandwich on The Star Stage.  There is also a Phantom 105.2 Stage with music from Jape and Dry County as well as Phantom's very own DJ's.  Best of all, Key Notes favourite Irish TV presenter, Michelle Doherty, will be the MC for the evening.  Tickets are €23 and available from Ticketmaster now.

Just in case you need any more convincing, check out the video for Keepsake, from the upcoming Ham Sandwich LP, Carry the Meek.

 


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16

For the most part, Key Notes isn’t a fan of traditional print media.  Occasionally, modest individual that he is, he has been known to glance at reviews to see how they compare with his own.  On Monday, however, something caught Key Notes eye that raised a smile and yet caused him to sigh most un-contentedly.  Under the headline "Industry in Crisis as Album Sales Drop by 10%IRMA (the Irish Recorded Music Association) CEO Dick Doyle bemoans the fourth consecutive year of a double digit drop in sales.

Sinking ShipMr. Doyle was complaining that the Irish music industry was worth only €110m in 2007.  That's approximately 1.7% of the value of the US Music Industry in 2006.  Now, given that the Irish Population is about 1.4% of the US Population, this shows that the Irish music industry is actually performing better than its US equivalent as the industry here is worth around €26 per person, while in the US, home to the largest music industry in the world, it is worth only €21.75 per person.  Going even further – by taking into account the fact that only about 65% of the total population of Ireland and the US are of music purchasing age – those figures increase to €40 and €33.50 respectively.

Given that we are in the age of the digital download it is only fair to look at what this €40 could be worth to the Irish music industry.  Firstly, with iTunes the average price of purchasing an album is €9.99.  That means that Irish people (or those of music purchasing age) could have purchased 4 albums for their €40 last year.  With 140 Irish albums being released in 2007 that were valid for consideration for the Choice Music Prize, theoretically each of these bands could have sold almost 80,000 copies of their releases.  An impressive figure I’m sure you’ll agree, and one that should have IRMA encouraging the use of technology in purchasing music. 

However, IRMA appear to be more focused on illegal downloading and spending money on catching those evil boys and girls who 10 years ago were taping songs off the radio than they are on encouraging their members to embrace legal downloading, either through their own website or through facilities like iTunes.  How else can you explain why IRMA continues to utter nonsense such as "There are tens of thousands of jobs gone in the US and it is all to do with one thing only and that is illegal downloads."

Thinking about it for all of ten seconds Key Notes can list three other factors that might be equally responsible:

  1. The general downturn in the world economy
  2. Cheap imports of CD’s from the likes of Play and CD Wow
  3. New music retailers like Starbucks and Tesco entering the market

At an industry discussion Key Notes attended yesterday evening (thanks KT!), key players within the Irish industry – from musicians to journalists and managers to label bosses – agreed that whatever the cause of the current problems, the solution was that everyone, from the musician right up to the label boss, had to up their game.  Could it be that the radical solution needed to ‘save the industry’ is – shock horror – creating better music as a musician and making smarter decisions as a label?  It couldn't be that simple could it?

So, do you agree with IRMA when they say that the industries only problems are with illegal downloads or, if you live in the real world, do you think that the problem is multifaceted and that perhaps not giving musicians obnoxious sums of money at the expense of other artists might actually be a good thing?  Either way, Key Notes would love to hear your comments below.


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12

The Choice Music Prize is now in its third year and, to date, Key Notes has a 0% record in predicting the winner.  However, the third time's the charm and, to celebrate my confidence of a positive result this time, I'm not only going to predict the winner, but the shortlist also.  Now, clearly, this could blow up in Key Notes face, but along with Nialler and Shane, it's only meant as a bit of fun so Key Notes expects no angry letters or calls to Liveline if he's wrong.

The Shortlist 

Cathy Davey - Tales of Silversleeve 

Future Kings of Spain - Nervousystem 

Mumblin' Deaf Ro - The Herring & the Brine 

The Flaws - Achieving Vagueness

 

Roisin Murphy - Overpowered  

 

 Adrian Crowley - Long Distance Swimmer 

A Lazarus Soul - Graveyard of Burnt Out Cars 

God is an Astronaut - Far From Refuge 

Jenny Lindfors - When the Night Time Comes 

Delorentos - In Love With Detail

The Winner

So, here goes nothing, the winner of the Choice Music Prize 2008 will be: *insert drum roll* Adrian Crowley for Long Distance Swimmer.  Remember kids, you read it here first.  Future Kings and Cathy Davey will both be unlucky to miss out.


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14

Key Notes is a wee bit delicate after its Christmas party last night but still dragged itself (literally!) to the nearest PC to bring you the third instalment of the 'critically aclaimed' Key Note Speaker.  Ruairi Ferrie (multi instrumentalist and vocals) of Dark Room Notes has taken time out of a busy schedule that includes recording for the new series of Other Voices to become this week's speaker. 

Favourite Songs from the Past Year
Roscoe - Midlake
Atlas  - Battles
Phantom Limb - The Shins
Sexy Back - Justin Timberlake
Let The Freak Come Out At Night - Spilly Walker
Beautiful BurnoutUnderworld

Favourite Song Ever
Cars and Girls - Prefab Sprout

Favourite Dark Room Notes Song
Let's Light Fires

Favourite New Band/Artist
Bat for Lashes

Favourite Band/Artist Ever
Talking Heads

Favourite Gig This Year
!!! at Electric Picnic

Favourite Gig Ever
Predictably - Arcade Fire at Electric Picnic 2005

Favourite Dark Room Notes Gig Ever
Month of Sundays in Nimmos in Galway in November

Favourite Venue
Glenstal Abbey

Favourite Piece of Musical Equipment
88mm plectrum

Download or CD/Cassette/Record
Bring back cassettes, and the mixtape

Favourite TV Show at the Moment
The Mighty Boosh

Best Movie Ever Seen
Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads/Jonathan Demme

Greatest Book Ever Read
The Moor's Last Sigh - Salman Rushdie

Most Listened to Radio Show
Small Hours - Donal Dineen

What’s in Store for Dark Room Notes Next
We've a big Christmas gig in Whelan's on Dec 21st.  After a small Christmas break we'll launch straight into recording our debut album.


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07

This edition features A Lazarus Soul; the Dublin band whose recent single, Day I Disappeared, had those righteous boys and girls in Sinn Fein up in arms (if you'll forgive the pun).  Graveyard of Burnt Out Cars, the bands sophomore album has also been nominated for the CLUAS Album of the Year 2007.  Here, lead singer Brian Brannigan becomes the second Key Note Speaker

Favourite Songs from the Past Year
Racing Like a Pro - The National; Pass This On - The Knife; Little King December - Pat Barrett; Lost & Found - Future Kings of Spain

Favourite Song Ever
I could never pick just one out but Horseleg Swastikas - Silver Jews and Sunday Morning - The Velvets would be both up there

Favourite A Lazarus Soul Song
Trip Switch

Favourite New Band/Artist
The Ruby Tailights.  They released one of the best Irish albums of all time last year, Dressing Up

Favourite Band/Artist Ever
The Smiths or The Fall

Favourite Gig This Year
The National in The Olympia or The Rolling Stones in Slane

Favourite Gig Ever
So many to choose from.  The first time The Flaming Lips played Vicar Street; Julian Cope in Kilmainham Hospital in 1993 and Whipping Boy in the Project Arts Centre many moons ago

Favourite A Lazarus Soul Gig Ever
I prefer playing clubs.  We played Radiator with The Laundry Shop and also Death Via Satellite in Doran's.  Two of my favourites of those that I can recall

Favourite Venue
I think seeing the likes of Smog or Sparklehorse in Whelan's is incredible.  It's such a small venue for such legendary bands.  My favourite venue to play would be Kennedy's on Westland Row or The Hub

Favourite Piece of Musical Equipment
My Yamaha CSX1 Keyboard

Download or CD/Cassette/Record
Vinyl, always vinyl.  I only buy records and then steal MP3 versions for my iPod

Favourite TV Show at the Moment
I'm a big fan of cinema and DVD's over TV but I was a huge fan of The Sopranos.  It feels like a part of me has died now that it's finished

Best Movie Ever Seen
Naked - Mike Leigh; Nil by Mouth; The Last Great Wilderness; Willy Wonka

Greatest Book Ever Read
The Bible

Most Listened to Radio Show
I don't listen to much radio anymore but when I do it's Phantom

What’s in Store for A Lazarus Soul Next
Me & Maradona Dunne will be the final single from Graveyard of Burnt Out Cars and will be released in late January with some gigs to promote it.  We'll start rehearsing new material in the New Year and we'll hopefully try out some new songs at those gigs


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04

Ah Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year.  That is, of course, if wonderful is defined as stress filled, panic buy inducing madness!  Luckily for this Blog, whose agoraphobia appears to increase in direct correlation to the number of people selling sheets of wrapping paper '3 for €2', Mrs. Notes takes care of most of the Christmas shopping in these parts.  There are, however, two notable exceptions; Mrs. Notes' gift and any music related gifts that need to be purchased. 

This year has been by far Key Notes' easiest year yet.  The fact that the CLUAS 'Shortlist' for the Album of the Year stretches to 40 titles is a testament to the quality of music released this year.  Personally, as your resident Irish indie music commentator, Key Notes is especially proud that Irish releases make up almost 25% of the shortlist. 

So, if you're still unsure as to what to buy your loved one this Christmas, let Key Notes guide you through its selection of this years 'can't fail'* alternative music gifts.

For Your Dad
You've seen him at weddings with his tie wrapped around his head, head-banging to AC/DC and you know that he has an inner rock god buried deep beneath his Mondeo driving exterior.  Yet, every year, without fail, you buy him socks or cufflinks because you can't think of anything else.  Not this year though.    Raising Sand, the haunting, slightly disturbing, and yet still brilliant collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss allows him to relive his youth and keep his dinner party guests happy.

For Your Mum
It would be very easy to buy Il Divo or Take That for your mum but really, she gave birth to you, therefore she deserves better.  If she was a Prefab Sprout fan in her youth why not give her Neon Bible, Arcade Fire's homage to all things Paddy McAloon.  She'll enjoy it much more than Il Divo and it's not nearly half as embarrassing as having to explain to the sales person that it's for your mum, not you.

For Your Siblings
Without a doubt Key Notes favourite album of this year; Nervousystem is the second album from the Future Kings of Spain.  Your brother will thank you in years to come for ridding him of his fascination with all things My Chemical Romance while your sister will appreciate Joey Wilsons trademark disinterested drawl; Mrs. Notes certainly does.  Alternatively, there's Cathy Davey's Tales of Silversleeve, an album as remarkable as it was unexpected.  A work of genius to pleasure the ears of siblings of all ages.

For Your Partner
Finally, the age old dilemma of what to put in his/her Christmas stocking.  It should, of course, depend on that persons musical taste.  However, you should note that it doesn't matter if they'd appreciate Wilco's Sky Blue Sky more than the Kings of Leon or if they'd prefer Interpol over The Flaming Lips.  The real key to choosing an album for your partner is to pick something you like, especially if you're living with this person.  Trust Key Notes when it tells you; they're going to make you listen to it!

*Key Notes takes no responsibility should any of these recommendations result in divorce or disownment.


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29

This edition features Headgear; the Limerick band whose album Flight Cases has been shortlisted for the CLUAS Album of the Year 2007. The musical project of Dublin Born Daragh Dukes (DD); Headgear describe themselves as a ‘collage of folk, electronica and rock.’ Along with colleague Barra O’Toole (BO'T) - Headgear’s ‘Guitar Department’ - Dukes becomes the inaugural Key Note Speaker.

Favourite Songs from the Past Year
DD: My Body is a Cage - Arcade Fire; Atlas - Battles; 15 Step - Radiohead
BO’T: Sunny Sweeny's - I'm Gonna Be The Next Big Nothin

Favourite Song Ever
DD: Moon River - Henry Mancini
BO’T: Danny Whitten - I Don't Want To Talk About It

Favourite Headgear Song
DD: Generally it's the next one I'm going to write
BO’T: Will They Be Friendly? and the, as yet unwritten, At Least The Gun that's At My Head Is Mine

Favourite New Band/Artist
DD: Fight Like Apes sound like good craic
BO’T: Sunny Sweeny

Favourite Band/Artist Ever
DD: I would change this every day. Today, though, I will say Tom Waits
BO’T: Neil Young, Hank Williams and many others if I'm drunk and they happen to come on the music playing machine I'm hanging on to for dear life in the corner. And The Bothy Band   

Favourite Gig This Year
DD: Si Schroeder at The Electric Picnic
BO’T: Felonius A. Salt and the Bottle of Rum, Crawdaddy, Dublin

Favourite Gig Ever
DD: Radiohead at The Olympia
BO’T: Ron Sexmith at The Belltable, Limerick about 12/13 years ago

Favourite Headgear Gig Ever
DD: It's going on in my head at the moment
BO’T: Cherry Jam, London

Favourite Venue
DD: Guerin's Bar, Castleconnell
BO’T: Dolan's, Limerick

Favourite Piece of Musical Equipment
DD: My old Jazzmaster that i bought for 200 quid 16 years ago
BO’T: A finely polished Bugle

Download or CD/Cassette/Record
DD: They've all got something to offer but vinyl definitely has more to give
BO’T: No preference. Do people still use cassette?

Favourite TV Show at the Moment
DD: I don't know anything about it
BO’T: Just finished a couple seasons worth of the US version of The Office. FACT: Very funny. And before that 30 Rock. I don't watch anything week to week

Best Movie Ever Seen
DD: 2001 A Space Odyssey
BO’T: Singin' In The Rain...depending on my mood...Dead Man directed by Jim Jarmusch. Or if it's after midnight Key Largo or The Maltese Falcon or probably anything with Humphrey Bogart

Greatest Book Ever Read
DD: Pnin by Nabokov
BO’T: The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake and Tim Burton's The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy. And The London A-Z...obviously

Most Listened to Radio Show
DD: JK Ensemble
BO’T: I don't own a radio

What’s in Store for Headgear Next
DD: New version of To Heaven will be released end of January 2008 along with some live shows. A new album should be finished late 2008 - Headgear's Wild West - is the working title
BO’T: I can only speak for everyone ever connected with Headgear when I say that sobriety and surrender are not an option. The Treachery is too far gone. We will walk with The King next year. And maybe try for a guest appearance on Hall's Pictorial Weekly


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16

Key Notes doesn’t do politics. Well actually it does, but would be so inclined to rant and rave that it wouldn’t make for great reading material on a Friday afternoon. However, the current assault on the people of Pakistan and the swift and severe oppression of any form of protest against it, led your easily stirred blogger to consider protest songs and their history. 

A good table-quiz factoid for you is that the oldest protest song on record is The Cutty Wren, a composition from the 14th century speaking out against the feudal system in place in England at that time. Despite the rumours however, I could find no evidence that it was actually written by Steve Tyler.

Though its origins were in England, it was in America where the protest song emerged as a beacon of hope for those tired of the status-quo (though many were said to have enjoyed Rockin’ All Over the World).  

The 20th century proved fertile ground for American musicians when it came to penning their protests. The lyrics "Southern trees bear strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root / Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze" from Strange Fruit (famously recorded by Billie Holiday) were penned by Lewis Allen in response to the lynching of two black men. The songs impact was such that it was still being used in the Civil Rights Movement 30 years later, and was cited by Bob Dylan as an inspiration in (the excellent by the way) No Direction Home

Dylan himself was responsible for thousands of buskers inflicting the world with their version of Blowin’ in The Wind, one of the most recognisable and popular protest songs ever written. The fact that it wasn’t written about a particular event but simply posed a number of questions designed to make the listener question themselves and the world around them has allowed it to stand the test of time. Of course, this was before Dylan was hawking iPods and SUV’s, but the song struck a chord and was used as an anthem for protestors of the Vietnam war, and most wars since.  

Of course the Sixties produced a huge volume of protest songs from Respect to Give Peace A Chance and many of these are still used today. Indeed many commentators lament the lack of original protest songs emerging from today’ musicians. 

While it’s true that there are some laughable attempts at protest songs around (Green Day or George Michael anyone?) there are some great examples of the genre emerging in response to US foreign policy. Neon Bible, for example, is littered with references to the state of paranoia created by the Bush government. Neil Young’s Living With War was even more blatant in it’s critique. However, perhaps the greatest protest song written this century (in Key Notes humble opinion) was penned by, the frustratingly inconsistent, Bright Eyes

Containing the stinging opening verse; "When the president talks to God / Are the conversations brief or long? / Does he ask to rape our women’s' rights / And send poor farm kids off to die? / Does God suggest an oil hike / When the president talks to God?" it is a powerful critique and its rawness touched a chord with a great of disillusioned and disgruntled people. It’s a pretty good song too which always helps. So to the people of Pakistan, and indeed anyone living under the pretence that democracy is for your benefit and not for theirs, Key Notes presents Mr. Conor Oberst, When The President Talks to God.


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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.