The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Key Notes


As you've probably guessed from the blog title and, indeed, the summary,Steve this will be the final ever edition of Key Notes.  It might not be a huge surprise to those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis as the silence emanating from Key Note Towers over the past few weeks has been deafening.  Unfortunately, I totally underestimated how much time and effort a Masters would require and, while it would have been an easy decision to hold on to this blog and only update it once or twice per month, I think you, the Key Notes reader, deserves better. 

This blog set out to entertain and inform in equal measure and on a regular basis.  I hope that I have achieved that over the past two and a half years.  However, now that I can no longer provide you with a regular update, I feel the time is right to step aside and pave the way for a fresh voice from the CLUAS stable to provide you with their take on Ireland's indie music scene.  I can't reveal who that person is just now, but I hope that regular readers of Key Notes will support his replacement.

Before I go, I would like to thank Eoghan, who provided me with this excellent opportunity.  Sir, your guidance was one of the main reasons I took the plunge and decided to do my journalism Masters.  I would also like the thank my fellow CLUAS writers, especially those of you who took gig passes on short notice and were willing and able to publish reviews within 24 hours.  Unfortunately, my decision to step back from the site means that I will no longer be in charge of the distribution of gig passes but I'm sure Eoghan will direct you in the right direction soon.

I would also like to thank all the promoters, bands, managers and fans who I've had the pleasure of being in contact with over the past few years and who have pointed me in the direction of some excellent new Irish music.  I would especially like to thank (and wish them the best of luck in the future) all those involved with C O D E S, Dark Room Notes, Escape Act and the sadly departed Future Kings of Spain.

I'd better thank Mrs. Key Notes too.  Although, like Eoghan, it is partly Amy's fault that I can't continue with Key Notes as I doubt I'd be doing this Masters if it wasn't for her support.  Finally, I would like to you, the Key Notes reader, especially those of you on the Key Notes' mailing list.  I hope I have succeeded in my goal of entertaining and informing you over the past few years and that you appreciate difficult it was to come up with a new email title every time!

This won't be the last you hear from me on CLUAS.  I still hope to provide gig and album reviews as and when I can and I stand 100% behind this site and what it aims to achieve.

It's been emotional people.

C O D E S: This is Goodbye

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Yesterday, Monday 26 October 2009, this blog ran (and completed) its very first Marathon. It was a day of extreme highs and lows and one that I'll probably never forget.  I know for sure that my right knee won't let me forget anytime soon.

As I reached the start line at 8.30, the air was heavy with the smell of fear and deep heat.  Nervous pleasantries were exchanged between competitors amidst final stretches and photographs.  Everyone wanted to know what time everyone else wanted to achieve.  If I could do it in less that 4 hours, 30 minutes, I'd be very happy.  If I could somehow find the adrenalin to do it in less than four then I'd be ecstatic!  As the 9.00 start time approached, my emotions began to get the better of me, not because of the 26 miles, 385 yards ahead of me, but because of the hundreds of miles I'd put in beforehand and, of course, the very reason I was doing this in the first place, in memory of my Father-in-law, Alan Smyth.  

However, once the starting gun went all nerves quickly disappeared and I settled in to a nice pace of 9.30-9.45 minute miles for the first 5 miles.  It was hard not to think about the difference between the first time I attempted 5 miles, when I was sure I'd have to call some sort of cardiac ambulance, and today.  Indeed, miles 4-8, through the Phoenix Park, are perhaps the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on.  The colours of the trees, the enthusiastic crowds, the fact that I was, without very much effort, on course for possibly a 4 hour marathon added a spring to my step that made me feel like the greatest distance runner in the world.  

That being said, as good as I felt exiting the Chapelizod Gate, I realised that I wasn't sweating very much and so I took some time to load up on water and energy drinks at the next water station.  Mile 8 to 9, which included the impossibly steep St. Laurence Road, was by far the toughest of the race so far but as I made my way through miles 9-13 I seemed to get a second wind.  I was now running a pretty good pace and still had the 4 hour pace balloons in sight.

However, as I crossed the half way mark in 2 hours, 1 minute and 14 seconds, and began to dream of upping the pace and overtaking the pacemakers between miles 13-18 (and before I hit the dreaded wall), I heard what can only be described as a loud snap in my head and almost immediately came to a shuddering halt given the pain that was now emanating from my right knee. I couldn't believe it.  This was the same knee I suffered a grade 2 ACL tear in during training (causing me to miss 8 weeks in total) but which hadn't caused me any real trouble for over 6 weeks.  

I made my way as quickly as I could to the nearest first aid area where I was strongly advised to call it a day.  That was NEVER going to happen, not after coming this far.  The first aid guys applied as much deep freeze as they could before advising me one more time to consider leaving the race.  Stubbornly, I still refused, saying that I'd give it another couple of miles and see where it took me.  All in all, I spent over 21 minutes getting treatment and stretching and so any hope of a sub four hour marathon were well any truly gone.

Indeed, after about a mile of very light jogging I relalised that time was no longer an issue.  It was now all about ignoring the pain in my right knee (akin to replacing your knee joint with a testicle and running on it for 12 or so miles), and just finishing the race.  To be honest, I wasn't sure I could but as mile after mile passed by I could sense the finish line and that, plus a brilliantly supportive crowd, kept me going, even through miles 18-24 when I seemed to spend most of the time trying not to cry, both from the pain and the feeling that I'd let myself and others down because of this injury.

Somehow, and from somewhere, I picked up the courage to run, as fast as I could, the last 2 miles, 285 yards in the hope of finishing in less than 5 & a half hours.  Seeing Mrs Key Notes, her mum and my own Mum and Dad, as I struggled through the last mile, gave me a huge emotional and physical boost and as I crossed the line I was so overcome with the emotion of the whole experience that I almost, almost, forgot about the pain for a moment.  Officially, my time was 5.46.14 but, as I took 21 minutes out for treatment, I'm giving myself an unofficial time of 5.25.14.  

Not that it matters, of course, I finished a marathon, essentially on one leg, and that, as everyone has since told me, is all that really matters.  That and getting to the doctor today!

Should you wish to sponsor me, there is still time so please check out my MyCharity Page.

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And so Dublin's most hectic, fun-filled, music weekend is finally upon us!  The full schedule for Hard Working Class Heroes 2009, details of which you can find below or on the HWCH website, has been announced.  

There are obviously a lot of great bands that one could see over the weekend but Key Notes will more than likely be found at the following:

Midatlantic - The Button Factory - 7.15-7.45
Theme Tune Boy - 4 Dame Lane - 8.15-8.45
Subplots - Andrew's Lane - 8.50-9.20
Here Come The Landed Gentry - Academy 2 - 9.30-10.00
The Ambience Affair - Andrew's Lane - 10.10-10.40
Villagers - Andrew's Lane - 11.00-12.00

Oliver Cole - The Button Factory - 7.10-7.40
Escape Act - 4 Dame Lane - 8.00-8.30
Cities - Twisted Pepper - 8.55-9.25
Holy Roman Army - Twisted Pepper - 9.35-10.05
Fionn Regan - Button Factory - 10.00-11.00

Pearse McLoughlin - The Button Factory - 7.30-8.00
Biggles Flies Again - Academy 2 - 8.10-8.40
Robotnik - Andrew's Lane - 9.00-9.30
Tidal District - Academy 2 - 9.30-10.00
The Angel Pier - Button Factory - 10.15-11.00
202's - Andrew's Lane - 11.05-11.35
Super Extra Bonus Party - Andrew's Lane - 11.50 - 12.30

Full Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 Line-up:


7.30 - 8.00 - MIRACLE BELL
8.10 - 8.40 - WE CUT CORNERS
8.50 - 9.20 - SUBPLOTS
9.30 - 10.00 - THE DEAD FLAGS
10.10 - 10.40 - THE AMBIENCE AFFAIR
11.00 - 12.00 - VILLAGERS

(12:00 - 2.00AM HWCH CLUB)

7.15 - 7.45 - MIDATLANTIC
8.00 - 8.30 - ALRIGHT CHIEF
9.20 - 9.50 - A PLASTIC ROSE
10.00 - 10.35 - DARK ROOM NOTES

7.30 - 8.00 - I ♥ THE MONSTER HERO
8.10 - 8.40 - NO LADY
9.30 - 10.
10.10 - 10.40 - NOT SQUARES
10.55 - 11.30 - HERITAGE CENTRE

7.45 - 8.15 - ALBERT PENGUIN
8.30 - 9.00 - CITY OF ANGELS
10-00 - 10.30 - SERGEANT MEGAPHONE
10.45 - 11.15 - TALULAH DOES THE HULA
11.30 - 12.00 - NEOSUPERVITAL

7.30 - 8.00 - LADYDOLL
8.15 - 8.45 - THEME TUNE BOY
9.00 - 9.30 - BLACK ROBOTS
9.45 - 10.15 - ZEALOTS
10.30 - 11.00 - IDENTITY PARADE

7.30 - 8.00 - GIRAFFES
900 - 9.30 - HEATHERS
9.45 - 10.15 - THE STAR DEPARTMENT
10.25 - 11.00 - MORE TINY GIANTS



7.45-8.15 – HIRED HANDS
8.30 - 9.00 - O EMPEROR
9.10 - 9.40 - ALI & THE DTS
9.50 - 10.20 - GRAN CASINO
10.30 - 11.00 - SWEET JANE
11.15 - 12.00 - ADEBISI SHANK

(12:00 - 2.00AM HWCH CLUB)

7.10 - 7.40 - OLLIE COLE
7.50 - 8.20 - LAND LOVERS
8.30 - 9.00 - BRIANA CORRIGAN
9.10 - 9.40 - DEAF JOE
10.00 - 11.00 - FIONN REGAN

7.30 - 8.00 - FINGERSMITH
8.15 - 8.45 - KILL KRINKLE CLUB
9.00 - 9.30 - CUTAWAYS
9.45 - 10.15 - DISTRACTORS
10.30 - 11.00 - CHEAP FREAKS

7.30 - 8.00 - KYON
8.15 - 8.45 - YES CADETS
8.55 - 9.25 - C!TIES
9.35 - 10.05 - THE HOLY ROMAN ARMY
10.15 - 10.45 - VALERIE FRANCIS
10.45 - 12.15 - DJ SETS FROM:
12.30 - 01.00 - THE SPOOK OF THE 13TH LOCK
01.15 - 01.45 - THE DYING SECONDS
02.00 - 02.45 - HUNTER GATHERER

8.00 - 8.30 - ESCAPE ACT
8.45 - 9.15 - P.DOG
9.30 - 10.00 - BLOOD BOTTLER
10.15 - 10.45 - COLLIE

7.30 - 8.00 - RORY GRUBB
9.00 - 9.30 - GOATBOY
9.45 - 10.15 - THE POORMOUTH
10.30 - 11.00 - LIZ IS EVIL 



8.15 - 8.45 - DISCONNECT 4
9.00 - 9.30 - ROBOTNIK
9.45 - 10.15 - ONLY FUMES & CORPSES
10.25 - 10.55 - FUNERAL SUITS 
11.05 - 11.35 - 202S
11.50 - 12.30 - SUPER EXTRA BONUS PARTY 

8.10 - 8.40 - ULTAN CONLON
8.50 - 9.20 - FIONA MELADY
10.15 - 11.00 - THE ANGEL PIER

7.30 - 8.00 - ARMOURED BEAR
8.10 - 8.40 - BIGGLES FLYS AGAIN
8.50 - 9.20 - AUTUMN OWLS
9.30 - 10.00 - TIDAL DISTRICT
10.10 - 10.40 - VERONA RIOTS

7.30 - 8.00 - GO PANDA GO
8.10 - 8.40 - HASSLE MERCHANTS
8.50 - 9.20 - JOGGING
9.30 - 10.00 - TINY MAGNETIC PETS
10.55 - 11.30 - HAM SANDWICH

7.30 - 8.00 - PRIMO
8.15 - 8.45 - VOX POPULI
9.45 - 10.15 - REMMA
10.30 - 11.00 - AIRSTRIP ONE
11.15 - 11.45 - KILLER CHLOE

8.10 - 8.40 - THE VALS
8.50 - 9.20 - PLANET PARADE
9.30 - 10.00 - EXIT THE STREET
10.10 - 10.40 - POCKET PROMISE


So who will you being going to see? 

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Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of lads if you ask Key Notes.  Long time favourites of this particular blog, Dark Room Notes, announced on their MySpace this morning that they had just inked a deal with Berlin/London based BBE.

According to the band:
We Love You Dark Matter will (now) receive a worldwise release in 2010.

It seems an initial single release in January 2010 will feature remixes from other artists on the BBE roster such as Dimitri from Paris and John Morales.  Next year will also see the band tour the UK, Europe, the US and Japan in support of the record.

Dark Room Notes will be playing The Button Factory on Friday, October 16 at 10pm as part of the 2009 Hard Working Class Heroes Festival.  More details on the rest of the line up for HWCH 2009 later this week.

Dark Room NotesLet's Light Fires

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One of Hard Working Class Heroes' unique selling points (along with not having to buy a tent!) is the involvement of the industry in the event.  This year, Culture Ireland and IMRO have teamed up with HWCH to facilitate the presence of key speakers over the course of the weekend.

Mentor Speed Sessions
Mentor Speed Sessions, where Irish and International industry and media professionals will be available for one-on-one questioning to help you navigate the potential pitfalls in the music industry, will take place between 10.30 and 13.00 in The Button Factory on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18.  These sessions must be signed up for in advance on the HWCH website and are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Industry Panels
A number of discussions will take place over the course of the HWCH weekend, chaired by Jim Carroll and featuring the following topics:

Media: Why The First, Last & Middle Words are Online
The Button Factory, 14.00, Saturday October 17.
What will it mean to bands to have more and more music journalism move online?

Music Placement: TV on the Radio
The Button Factory, 15.30, Saturday October 17.
A look at what music placement means to bands and how to go about it.

Labels: Meet Your new Best Friend
The Button Factory, 14.00, Sunday October 18.
A number of label types argue why they are still relevant as we approach the end of the Noughties.

Touring: The Music Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Button Factory, 15.30, Sunday October 18.
A chance to learn how to move from playing your home town, to somebody else's home town.

These industry panels are free to those in possession of a valid weekend or one day ticket.  Tickets are still available for HWCH 2009 from usual outlets.  Keep an eye on Key Notes next week as he will bring you the full line-up for the event, as well as listing which bands he thinks you should be checking out.

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Key Notes Returns To College
Key Notes has had an interesting couple of weeks.  For a start, I'm now a full time student again.  I started my Masters in Journalism last week and, so far, it's pretty much everything I was hoping it would be.  Shorthand is tough, especially for someone who doesn't write in a cursive script to start with, but aside from that, Key Notes is sure he's made the right decision career/life wise.

Marathon Preparations
Those of you who follow this blog will know that I am currently training for the Adidas Dublin City Marathon on October 26.  In preparation for this I recently ran the Adidas Dublin Half Marathon with my mother (aw bless).  While my time was nothing to write home about, she managed to finish 111 out of over 1,000 in her category and raise lots of funds for charity at the same time so kudos where it is due.  I will be blogging about my marathon exploits closer to the date, and looking for sponsorship, so watch out.

Hot Press Music Show
Key Notes attended this weekend's Hot Press Music Show in the RDS (thanks Greeny!) and was pleased to see the amount of young people there.  When I was growing up in Kildare, music shops were at a premium and access to musical instruments and teachers usually came through school.  With an event like the Music Show, kids of all ages can fall in love with real instruments (as opposed to Guitar Hero, which, while having some entertainment value, has the potential to kill music).  The Music Show also exposes kids of all ages to some of the topics currently being debated in the world of music.  Illegal downloading was, once again, the hot potato, but there was also a particularly interesting debate on songwriting as a business, a subject that gets Key Notes wound up in all sorts of ways.  In my world, music should be considered art, not a business.  Why is that such a lofty ideal?

Two Bands Key Notes Would Recommend
At the Music Show, Key Notes heard two bands whose music he hadn't really paid much attention to before.  The first band, OnOff, won a competition to open the gig section of the event.  I saw this band once before and, quite frankly, didn't think very much.  However, they are now one member lighter and sound a great deal better for it.  There is an edge to this band that a lot of established bands would kill for.  Their music (balls out rock) might not be to everyone's taste but, if they could tone down on the swagger just a little, they is a great deal of potential.

The second band, and one that Key Notes is now very excited by, is Bipolar Empire.  One reason why this band caught my attention is that it would be difficult to pin a specific sound or genre on this band.  It was at times melodic, rock, soul and even blues and all played around songs of a very high standard.  Even more impressive was their vocalist, whose range was amazing considering it was only lunchtime.  Well worth checking out.

Villagers Sign To Domino
Congratulations to Villagers who have recently signed to Domino (Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, The Kills).  Couldn't happen to a better band.  Make sure you check them out at Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 (more on this later in the week).  For now though, any excuse to play this:

Villagers: The Meaning of the Ritual

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'We weren't Spanish. We just liked crowns!'

That's the message greeting visitors to the Future Kings of Spain Myspace page this morning.  In fairness, I've heard rumours of the band's demise for more than a month now but, to see it become official, makes Key Notes feel very sad.  For years they were, by a long way, my favourite Irish band and, while my musical tastes have changed over the years, they remained a band whose records would always be on my mp3 player and whose gigs I would always keep an eye out for.

I still have very fond memories of my first time seeing the Kings.  They were supporting Biffy Clyro in the Temple Bar Music Centre and, aside from my future wife and brother-in-law, the only other people there were members of Snow Patrol and JJ72.  It was one of those nights where you know you're witnessing something special and you just wish that there were more people there to see it too.  That night, the Kings blew Biffy off the stage and I was hooked.

They were also some of the nicest blokes you could meet in music.  Key Notes interviewed lead singer Joey Wilson and drummer Bryan McMahon in advance of reviewing their sophomore album, Nervousystem.  What was supposed to be a 20 minute interview turned in to a two hour discussion about everything including table tennis, diabetic chocolate and fictional TV detectives and continued into the night when this blog and Joe O'Shea (of Seoige & O'Shea) ended up discussing the appearance of sea monkeys on his wikipedia page.  It was, to quote the youth of today, random.  As far as interview material went, most of it was unusable and would result in this site being sued for several million Euro, but it did give me a much better insight into what the album was really all about and helped to colour (though, of course, not influence) my review.

It's always sad when your favourite bands call it a day but, I suppose, you always have their music to remember them by.  The Future Kings of Spain leave behind two great albums and a fantastic EP, Les Debemos.  My favourite Kings' song will always be Meanest Sound but the best thing they ever wrote was surely Syndicate which also had a pretty cool video.

Future Kings of Spain: Syndicate

The Kings are Dead, Long Live The Kings. Adios.

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The Friday and Saturday night headliners for Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 have been announced.  Conor O'Brien and his Villagers will headline Andrew's Lane Theatre on Friday October 16 while Fionn Regan will conclude proceedings on Saturday October 17 in The Button Factory.

Those of you who haven't managed to get your hands on Villagers' stunning Hollow Kind EP are really missing out.  O'Brien, formerly of The Immediate, is a songwriter of extraordinary talent, capable of inducing the entire spectrum of emotions in his listeners.  His appearance at this years HWCH will coincide with the launch of Villagers' new single, On a Sunlit Stage.  If the man can sound this good in a bathroom, you should hear him live, with a full band!

Villagers: On a Sunlit Stage

Also announced for this year's HWCH is former Mercury nominee, Fionn Regan.  There will be those amongst Key Notes' readers who will be wondering what Regan has been up to since the release of 2007's critically acclaimed The End of History.  Well, the good news is that the follow up, The Shadow of an Empire, is due for release in 2010, through Universal.

Fionn Regan: Be Good or Be Gone

As mentioned already, Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 takes place over the course of October 16,17 & 18.  Featuring 99 Irish bands, tickets are available from and usual outlets for €40 (weekend) or €18.50 (daily).  Key Notes will be running a feature on the bands he is looking forward to seeing, closer to the event so keep and eye out for that.

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It will probably come as no surprise, but I don't remember much about my birth.  I know I was a reluctant child; if my Mam is to be believed she was in labour longer than Pat Rabbitte.  I do remember most of my birthdays though, even the one that everyone else forgot. Unfortunately, John Hughes didn't make a movie about me (probably because I wasn't a 16 year old American girl).  My most memorable birthday was probably my 21st, which I spent in hospital waiting for an operation to remove metal pins from my arm.  That was fun!

That's enough about me though, this blog is supposed to be about the statistical anomaly that has seen so many influential musicians who happen to die at my new age.  The 27 Club or the Forever 27 Club contains the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain.  Even Charles Cross, who has written two excellent biographies on Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, has stated that 'The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27.'  As many as 37 notable musicians have died at that age.

Cobain's entry to the 27 club had, perhaps, the most influence on me growing up and was, indeed, the first I heard of the 27 club.  There is a huge volume of text available on Cobain's death with many saying he timed his suicide so he good join the club.  Cobain of course was a student of rock history and this, it seems, is the main reason why many bloggers claim he killed himself.  What most don't tell you is that more than 30,000 Americans took their own lives in 1994, the year Cobain died, so it's not entirely surprising that someone, who had as many problems as Cobain did, joined them.

One aspect of the 27 club that, perhaps, has the greatest appeal (and you'd be surprised by the amount of people who actually want to join this club!) is that it is difficult to imagine any of its more prominent members reaching old age.  The idea of a 50 year old Jim Morrison fronting a Door's reunion tour doesn't sit comfortably.  Likewise, it is difficult to picture Jimi Hendrix or Brian Jones as old men.  On the other hand, how great would it be to hear that a new Nirvana album was coming out at the end of 2009? Either way, we'll never know.

Thankfully, Key Notes doesn't have either an outstanding body of work behind him or a face that might adorn a thousand t-shirts surrounding the central bank so he doesn't have to worry about joining the 27 club, even if he wanted to.  Really, this blog was just an excuse to let everyone know it was my birthday and to play this video:

Nirvana: Heart Shaped Box

Now I just have to reach Jesus' age to have an excuse to play that video again!

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Speech Debelle has just been announced as the winner of the 2009 Mercury Prize.  Unfortunately, this means that Ireland's Lisa Hannigan didn't win, keeping Ireland's 100% record of not winning the competition in tact.  Hopefully it didn't lose because, as one of the guests interviewed by Lauren Laverne on tonight's show stated, it was 'too sweet' and 'just nice to listen to when making a vegetable curry' and not suitable for winning the Mercury Prize.  What a terrible indictment of a record and one that is, in this blogs' opinion, totally undeserved.  Sea Sew is, in places, perhaps a little twee, but it is beautiful in parts and contains some very interesting arrangements.  It was, in short, very deserving of its nomination.

Key Notes would like to congratulate Speech Debelle on winning this year's prize.  To be honest though, I have managed to listen to approx. 75% of this year's albums, and Speech Therapy was one of two records I thought didn't deserve to win (the other being Glasvegas) but might.  For me, it's very much hip hop for people who aren't really that keen on hip hop but who like having a diverse record collection.  For those of you not familiar with the record, Speech Therapy has quite a jazz tinge to it, relying less on artificial production and more on a natural LoFi feel.

Key Notes' own personal favourite was Bat For Lashes' Two Suns and, while it is sad to see this record overlooked, that's the way these competitions work.  People have different opinons than I do.  This is probably a good thing most of the time!

To be honest, there are no real losers when it comes to the Mercury Prize (most bands see a massive increase in sales) but some acts win more than others.  This year's winningest (it's a word!) winner was Speech Debelle and so here's a video to celebrate:

Speech Debelle: The Key

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Nuggets from our archive

2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.