Swear I'm not Paul: 05/04/2009

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stream: The Hold Steady - 40 Bucks

One of two bonus tracks from the Hold Steady's new live album A Positive Rage.

You can stream '40 Bucks' in full here:

Album News: Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King

Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King album cover art

Dave was interviewed on for Reuters or Yahoo or Billboard or someone, it's here anyway:

In the interview, Dave Matthews talks about how he put his heart and soul into this record, which is a tribute to the late Leroi Moore. Rob Cavallo tells how the album was created using some of Moore's sax work, recorded before his tragic death: "We created a giant ProTools file that had all of his parts, even if he was just tinkering around during a demo phase off-mic. We scoured the hard drives to find all of these moments he had."

Another important paragraph from the article is:
Highlights include the funk-rock rave-up "Shake Me," the stirring ballad "In the Hands of God," the swampy rocker "Cockadile," radio-friendly fare like "Why I Am," which features playful horns over a solid rock riff and a hooky chorus, "Funny the Way It Is," which parlays a subtle intro into a soaring, syncopated anthem, and set pieces "Skworm" and "Time Bomb," the latter featuring some of Matthews' most fiery studio vocals in years.

You should read the whole thing for a full flavour, but from the sounds of it, Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King could well be Dave Matthews Band's best since The Lillywhite Sessions.

Their US tour starts on Tuesday, so we may get to hear some of the new songs on the road before their studio release. If so, I'll have them here for download.

Possible tracklist (in no order):
* (LeRoi Sax Intro)
* Shake Me Like a Monkey
* Dive In
* Lying in the Hands of God
* Funny The Way It Is
* Spaceman
* Skworm
* Timebomb
* Why I Am
* Cockadile
* You N Me Stripped Down

Watch fan interview (with song clip):

Album preview video:

Setlist: Jason Mraz, The Academy, 9 April 2009

Great show, much better than I expected even though there was no early songs. But it was so funky, it's unreal. I'll have a full review up shortly.

Make It Mine
Anything You Want
Only Human
Peg (Steely Dan cover)
Beautiful Mess
Lucky (with Marit Larsen)
Live High
Dynamo of Volition
I'm Yours >
Three Little Birds (Bob Marley cover)
Copchase (instrumental)
========== Encore ==========
Never Too Late
Life is Wonderful

Watch 'Lucky':

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Live Review: Bell x1, Vicar Street, 8 April 2009

A rousing reception greeted Celbridge's finest, a band who have gone from losing members left, right and well not quite centre yet, to soundtracking American drama. Their four night homecoming party was in full flow for their third night of four at Vicar Street. I wasn't sure what to expect from Bell x1 to the power of 3 (not the original 5 or 6 of Juniper), but in a live setting, they're just as good, if not better than they've always been.

Every show should open with cowbell, and this one did not disappoint. The cowbell heavy 'A Better Band' started us off on a high, before increasing the tempo with classic 'Alphabet Soup'. I have a soft spot for banjo-led tunes, and thus 'Alphabet Soup' is a favourite of mine. (Thanks Dave Geraghty for the banjo work, we need more.) I was delighted to hear it here.

In High Fidelity, Nick Hornby waxes lyrical about the art of making the perfect mixtape, you start well, build up higher for the second track and then slow it down for the third, so not as to run out of steam. Making live setlists must be the same, as this is exactly what Bell x1 did last night. 'Bad Skin Day' calmed things down before technical hitches tried to interrupt the excellent new tune 'How Your Heart is Wired'.

The crowd as a whole were great, but during some of the newer songs (such as 'How Your Heart is Wired', and later 'Amelia') there was chatting in certain areas. This all stopped when 'Eve, the Apple of My Eye' was played, and everyone in Vicar Street sang along. Before beginning 'Amelia', Paul Noonan thanked us all for coming and taking photos and told a funny aside about a website of musician's sex faces in photos. You had to be there. You should've been there. It was amazing. There's still a chance to get tickets for tonight!

Current single 'The Great Defector' roused us all up again and is already a fan favourite. This segued perfectly into 'Tongue', and showed how the old and new mix perfectly. They haven't lost it, it's just more refined now. 'Flame' brought the volume levels even higher, and pleased my other half no end. She loves the song. Rightly so.

Another amusing story was told about Pat Mustard and UHT milk before 'Breastfed'. The main part of the set ended with 'Rocky Took a Lover', extra emphasis being put on the swear words. The song seems to be ingrained in all our consciousness. Also, the singalong ending to it provided a perfect foil for the usual nonsense chants of 'Olé Olé' during encore breaks.

During the break, a tech came on to put out another microphone, which I assumed would be for one of the Walls. How wrong I was. I knew it was her, recognised her, but still doubted myself until it was announced "ladies and gentlemen, Lisa Hannigan". The band and Lisa performed a stellar version of her charity tune (with Gary Lightbody) 'Some Surprise', and it really was. A massive surprise. Also interesting seeing as how Damien split from them and she split from Damien. Amazing how close the Irish music scene is. Brilliant though.

Two new songs were next in the encore, the next single 'Ribs of a Broken Umbrella' (which we got a glimpse of the video - amazing is not the word), and the dirty little ditty 'One Stringed Harp', which the band admitted that they had doubts putting on the album. They made the right choice. Crowd banter got a little bit of 'Happy Birthday' sang for some girl called Louise, but I'm guessing it wasn't Louise who shouted it out first.

The show ended perfectly with an extended version of another song from their best album. 'I'll See Your Heart, and I'll Raise You Mine' with a bit of The Smiths' 'There is a Light That Never Goes Out' to end the show is smashing form. A fantastic return for one of Ireland's finest bands, and no doubt one of the shows of the year.

Review: The Wall Brothers, Vicar Street, 8 April 2009

The Wall Brothers (also known as The Walls or The Stunning) opened for Bell x1 last night, and used a good bit of digital trickery to replace their lost drummer as well as to keep the crowd captivated. I expected drummer Rory (who is now Bell x1's percussionist) to make an appearance for at least one tune, but this sadly wasn't the case. The duo did do a good job replacing him with a video on the screen behind them as well as a fancy drum machine (read: laptop). This wouldn't have been all that much in itself apart from the fact that the songs were kept in time perfectly, with the video Rory singing along in all the right places. It was very impressive. The songs themselves were pretty good, and we got to see some new ones from the upcoming new album (whenever it is eventually released), as well as everyone's favourite discoverireland.ie track 'Bright Shining Sun'. Of the four nights Bell x1 played Vicar Street, this one definitely had the best support.

Setlist: Bell x1, Vicar Street, 8 April 2009

A Better Band
Alphabet Soup
Bad Skin Day
How Your Heart is Wired
My First Born for a Song
Eve, the Apple of My Eye
The Great Defector >
Rocky Took a Lover
Some Surprise (featuring Lisa Hannigan)
Ribs of a Brooken Umbrella
One Stringed Harp
(Happy Birthday Louise)
I See Your Heart, and I Raise You Mine >
There is a Light That Never Goes Out

Setlist: The Wall Brothers, Vicar Street, Dublin, 8 April 2009

Opening for Bell x1 at Vicar Street last night:

Dead Flowers
Thanks for the Photographs
Bright Shining Sun
New Song (Change?)
Burn the Cage

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stream: Conor Oberst - Outer South

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band release their new album Outer South on the 5th of May. But now you have a chance to listen to it in full. Yay!

Stream it for a limited time here:

Album Review: Bat for Lashes - Two Suns

Bat for Lashes - Two Suns

I'll get it out of the way at the start. Many other people have said it, but they're all right. The new Bat for Lashes album sounds like Kate Bush. It does. There's just no denying it. But as you should know, everything Kate Bush has ever done has been great, so similarly, the second album from Natasha Khan is just as great.

Opener 'Glass' shows this more than most. It's ethereal and beautiful, like a lot of Aerial or anything on The Whole Story. Another apt comparison would be to Tori Amos. 'Sleep Alone' is like one of the more outlandish Tori tunes (see her earlier work rather than the last few albums). Its percussive melody is beautifully matched by soaring vocals. 'Peace of Mind' and 'Siren Song' are other tracks that could be in the Amos canon. The sparse piano on both is beautifully interlinked with Khan's glorious vocal.

There are many standout tracks on this album (the sign of a classic-in-waiting), the first of which is the excellent 'Moon and Moon'. Its endlessly captivating and instantly alluring. Single 'Daniel' immediately follows this, and has garnered many Fleetwood Mac comparisons. But don't let the cheese factor of that put you off, this is like the Mac at their finest. It's the chorus that sounds like a Stevie Nicks refrain, with the repeated strains of "Daniel" echoing in your head long after the song is over.

'Pearl's Dream' takes from Amos and Bush and melds it all into one fantastic whole. On first listen it's difficult to understand the vocals, but further investigation only adds to the beauty. 'Travelling Woman' stops just short of being a radio-friendly pop tune, and is all the better for it. It could sell out, but with Khan you never think she will, and she definitely doesn't need to.

All in all, this is more than an equal for Bat for Lashes' debut Fur and Gold/ It improves on the first album, by moving further into deep waters and exploring the more interesting elements of her songwriting. In doing so, she has not alienated her fans, but instead made a beautiful record than everyone should hear.

More info:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

List: My Top 50 Best Irish Music Acts Right Now

Niall and Peter have followed on from Jim and co. to do their own lists. I thought I'd chime in with mine. Like Niall's it's in alphabetical order. Numerical order would be impossible.

Adebisi Shank
Armoured Bear
Bell X1
Cap Pas Cap
Cathal Coughlan
Adrian Crowley
Dark Room Notes
Cathy Davey
Colin Devlin
The Divine Comedy
Duke Special
Evil Harrisons
Julie Feeney
Fight Like Apes
Martin Finke
Mick Flannery
The Frames/Swell Season/Glen Hansard
The Funeral Suits
The Gorgeous Colours
The Guggenheim Grotto
Ham Sandwich
Lisa Hannigan
Gemma Hayes
The Holy Roman Army
I am Not Lefthanded
The Jimmy Cake
The Kanyu Tree
The Kinetiks
David Kitt
Kitty and the Can Openers
Lines Drawing Circles
Colm Mac Con Iomaire
Imelda May
Messiah J and the Expert
The Mighty Stef
Mumblin' Deaf Ro
Roisin Murphy
One Day International
Pony Club
Fionn Regan
Damien Rice
The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock
Wallis Bird

Download: Susumu Yokota - Tree Surgeon

Susumu Yokota - Mother

Nancy Elizabeth's Battle and Victory was one of my favourite albums of 2008. Therefore I was delighted to hear she was providing vocals on Susumu Yokota's new album Mother. As well as Elizabeth, vocal duties are taken on by Caroline Ross, Brothko, and Anna Bronsted. Plus Caspe Clausen from Efterklang is on the record too.

Susumu Yokota - 'Tree Surgeon'

More info:

Download: North Elementary - Ones in Love

To coincide with the announcement of more US tour dates, the excellent North Elementary have given another free song for download.

North Elementary - 'Ones in Love'

Here's the dates part from the press release -
North Elementary has some shows coming up this month in NYC, ATL, and a few other places on the east coast:
Apr 09: Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY
Apr 10: Pianos, Manhattan, NY
Apr 17: Pinhook, Durham, NC (The Sames reunion show!)
Apr 23: Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
Apr 24: Snug Harbor, Charlotte, NC
Apr 25: The Star Bar, Atlanta, GA

Monday, April 6, 2009

Setlist: Bell x1, Vicar Street, 31 March 2009

Setlist for Bell x1's second night at Vicar Street in Dublin.

How Your Heart Is Wired
Ribs Of A Broken Umbrella
Bad Skin Day
Next To You
First Born
Eve, the Apple of My Eye
Light Catches Your Face
The Great Defector
A Better Band
I'll See Your Heart and I'll Raise You Mine
Just Like Mr. Benn
West Of Her Spine
One Stringed Harp

Setlist: Bell x1, Vicar Street, 30 March 2009

Hopefully will be going to see these guys later this week. I cannot wait. Expect a show review.

How Your Heart is Wired
Ribs of a Broken Umbrella
Bad Skin Day
Next To You
Great Defector
My First Born for a Song
A Better Band
Eve, the Apple of my Eye
Rocky Took a Lover
Pinball Machine
One String Harp
I'll See Your Heart

Other People's Top 50 Irish Music Acts Right Now

Jim Caroll, Lauren Murphy et al. have a lot to answer for. Not content with over 150 comments on On the Record, they've also spurred on some spin off lists. If I had time myself I'd make a list of my own, but since I'm lazy, check out Nay, Peter and Niall's lists. (And Pat's rant...)


Live: Ray LaMontagne at the Gaiety

It usually has Twink and the like on the lienup, but Dublin's Gaiety Theatre will host one of Ireland's adopted sons (much like Josh Ritter) in September. He'll play the 3rd, 4th and 5th of that month.

Tickets are €40 and are on sale now.