Swear I'm not Paul: 17/01/2010

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Download: She & Him - In the Sun

'In the Sun' is the first single from She & Him's upcoming Volume Two. She & Him is a collaboration between M Ward and Zooey Deschanel and their first album was a lovely album of beautiful harmonies. Hopefully the second one will be just as good, if not better. This song, 'In the Sun' features guest vocals from Tilly and the Wall. The album itself comes out February 23rd.

She & Him - 'In the Sun'

Live: Foggy Notions Haiti Benefit Gigs

Foggy Notions has organised two benefit concerts for Haiti, which take place in February. There's fantastic line-ups at both shows, and tickets are €15 for each.

Sunday February 14th Whelan’s 8pm
Andy Irvine (Planxty),
The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock,
Mumblin Deaf Ro,
The Hounds
& Big Monster Love

Wednesday February 17th Whelan’s 8pm
David Kitt,
Jape (solo electronic),
Legion of Two,
Patrick Kelleher
& Goodtime John

They’re collaborating with Concern on both shows. Tickets are €15 from www.tickets.ie or WAV box office [1890 200 078]. Both ticket agents will donate booking fees minus VISA charges to the fund as well.

This is a wonderful idea and took a lot of work to organise, so please give generously.

More info:

Live: R Kelly at the Grand Canal Theatre

Very strange choice of venue for US hip-hop star R Kelly (I'll steer clear of any libellous nomenclature), as he comes to Dublin to promote his new album Untitled as well as play some classics on his Ladies Make Some Noise tour. He'll be playing the Grand Canal Theatre on 7th of April, with tickets priced between €60 and €81.25 on sale next Thursday (the 28th).

Watch the full 'Trapped in the Closet' mini-film here:

Album News: The New Pornographers - Together

Any time I post about the New Pornographers, I always get a few random hits from people looking for "tits" or "Peggy from Eastenders nude", but it's worth it, as the announcement of a New Pornographers album always gets me excited. (Not in the same way as some of those old porn fans though!)

Their new album is called Together and will be out on May 4th on Matador in the US.

There's twelves tracks on it, and as well as featuring all eight members of the New Pornos, there will be guest spots from Will Sheff from Okkervil River, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Zach Condon from Beirut, and The Dap King Horns. Nice!

It's always a treat when Neko Case and Dan Bejar come together. (See what I did there?)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not My Review: Drive-By Truckers - The Big To Do

The band's official bio has been updated for the new album, The Big To Do, and is worth a read. Here it is in full...

The Big To-Do (ATO Records)
Release date: March 16, 2010

It seems simplest to understand Patterson Hood as the director and/or producer of low-budget films, which is maybe what he thought he was doing when this all started. Each is released in record album form under the name Drive-By Truckers and features a closely held assortment of friends and combatants.
Ten of those, so far, going back to 1998's Gangstabilly, plus two more under Hood's own name, have delighted the critics and enthralled fans. Each release filled with carefully told, fiercely rendered short subjects. Cinematic songs. Not Ed Wood films, by the way. More…well, did you see John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer? Or, perhaps better, their friend Ray McKinnon's short, The Accountant?
The new one, the one we're meant to enjoy just now, is called The Big To-Do and ushers in a new relationship with ATO. And it offers up the curious, abiding peace which only great rock can still bring.
Which is not to say that Hood and his long-time fellow-travelers - Mike Cooley (vocals and guitars), along with Brad Morgan (drums), Shonna Tucker (vocals and bass), John Neff (extra guitars, as if there could be such a thing), Jay Gonzalez (keyboards) and studio facilitator David Barbe - travel only on the darkest side of the street. But they do know the road tolerably well.
Well-traveled, they have become a family band: Patterson has a new son, and a daughter; Cooley (nobody calls him Mike) has a trio of little ones, both men betraying more optimism than their songs might hint at. They took most of 2009 off from the road, in part because there was a child on the way and in part because Patterson ended up finishing their last tour on the sidelines with pleurisy. Dog sick. Way worse than hungover.
Somewhat to their surprise they've stumbled into a stable ensemble - not that the Truckers have been anything like Savoy Brown - which confuses even Patterson. "I've loved all the different line-ups, at various times," he says with genuine affection. "They've all had their special things they've done. But this time it seems like our possibilities go a lot further, because there's no drama, no bullshit, and everyone seems really glad to be there all the time. Which is a nice thing. And we really just work well together."
Well, it is suggested, it's about time.
"Yeah, no kidding. That Alabama thing, man."
You have to grow out of doing everything through conflict, right?
"Yeah, no kidding. And…I fortunately don't feel like I have to get divorced again to write a decent song. Thank god."
The Big To-Do was recorded in three concentrated sessions during the first part of 2009: ten days in January, five days in March, ten days in May. That added up to 25 songs, a dozen of which sequenced into The Big To-Do. "We had it mixed, mastered, and completely done, and Cooley wrote the best song that just needed to be on it," Patterson says with his raspy chuckle. This happens a lot with the Truckers, and it's always a good sign. "So we went back in and recorded, mixed, and mastered 'Birthday Boy' pretty much in one fell swoop." Thirteen songs, then.
The balance of the remaining tracks, plus five more they've cut in the interim, will make up the Truckers' next album, which Patterson projects as a quieter affair.
This is, in large part, possible because the Truckers have such a long-standing relationship with David Barbe (ex-Sugar, etc.) and the Athens, GA, studio he calls Chase Park Transduction, which long ago Patterson helped to build so as to earn the right to record there.
"It's gotten to where, that day of set-up time to get sounds and levels and all of that takes us about two hours," Patterson says. "We can pretty much walk in the door, and we know exactly where to put everything to get that sound, so that's just one less thing to have to think about. I wanted to eliminate the distractions."
That clarity of purpose translates into a delicious assortment of Trucker songs themed loosely around crime and (self-) punishment. "The Wig He Made Her Wear," Patterson says, is both a true story (as seen on Court TV) and the closest he's come to making the movie he started out to make a decade or more back. "The Fourth Night of My Drinking" will speak for itself, and "This Fucking Job" (paired thematically with Cooley's wry "Get Downtown") is arguably the most political song the Truckers have made since "Living Bubba." Which leaves the deceptive, airy simplicity of Shonna Tucker's "You Got Another" and "(It's gonna Be) I Told You So" to reckon with.
"We always knew she had that in her," Patterson says, delighted with the emergence of another strong songwriter in the band. "It was never a secret. She was writing songs all along. But watching it come out has been a really amazing thing to behold."
Off the road, incidentally, didn't mean out of work. First off, there was the matter of cutting an instrumental album with the legendary Booker T, having previously served as the backing band to the equally legendary soul singer, Bettye Lavette. Potato Hole turned out all right, got a Grammy nod, and Neil Young added his touches separately even though it's pretty much a Truckers effort. But it's what they learned making Potato Hole that counts most.
"I think doing the Booker album really, really paid off a lot on the musical end of this record, even though stylistically it might not sound anything like that record," says Patterson, and then tells the story.
"We made that record in four days, and that included the first day when it was, 'Booker, it's wonderful to meet you!' Maybe the third song we tracked just wasn't going the way he wanted it to go. We weren't quite understanding what he wanted. We were playing it right, but it wasn't right. All the sudden he just stopped the session. He gathered us around, and he told us a story about a Thanksgiving dinner, and the way it smelt in the house, he'd been on the road a long time, and they were all in - cousins and aunts he hadn't seen in several years. He said, 'It's just a day where nothing happens, but it's all really good.'
"And we sat down and we played it, and we nailed it. It was like a revelation. We're a lyric-driven band, and our songs generally paint scenes and tell stories based on scenes. He instinctively knew that was how we operated. And I think it taught us a lot about how we operated. Going in and making this record, I could tell a real difference in the way the songs hold up musically. We put a little more care into that side of it than I think we ever did before because of what we learned from him."
As for the movie Patterson started writing all those years ago, well, he's no closer to being done with it. "That might just be part of the drive to the songs I'm writing," he admits. And brightens. "I placed a couple of songs in a movie that just came out, shot outside of Knoxville, called That Evening Sun. It's Hal Holbrook's new film, produced by Ray McKinnon."
And then he's off again, headed home to see his family and wondering if maybe Tom T. Hall needs a backing band. It's a beautiful thing to behold.

- Grant Alden
January 2010
Morehead, KY

News: Franz Nicolay leaves the Hold Steady

Franz Nicolay has posted this message on his official website:

"You should know: I've left The Hold Steady. I told the band I'd be leaving in early September, played my last show with them in Minneapolis around Thanksgiving, and dotted the t's and crossed the i's this week. Five years seemed like a nice round number. Thanks to everyone who was a part of the experience, especially the Unified Scene, who are nice folks. I'll see you all soon in any case."

Where that leaves the next record, God knows, but the Hold Steady is not over. They'll still carry on, and probably find a replacement for live shows anyway, while Nicolay can focus on his own solo career.

Watch Franz Nicolay's own 'Jeff Penalty':

Album News: Gorillaz - Plastic Beach Tracklist

By now you've already heard or downloaded 'Stylo' from the upcoming Gorrilaz album Plastic Beach. In addition to that first single, there's now a cover and a tracklist to go with the album's release date (9th of March). There's a huge amount of guests on this one, and at sixteen tracks, it's sure to be a lengthy album. You'll hear no complaints from me about that one!

01 Orchestral Intro (ft. Sinfonia ViVA)
02 Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach (ft. Snoop Dogg and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)
03 White Flag (ft. Kano, Bashy, and the National Orchestra for Arabic Music)
04 Rhinestone Eyes
05 Stylo (ft. Bobby Womack and Mos Def)
06 Superfast Jellyfish (ft. Gruff Rhys and De La Soul)
07 Empire Ants (ft. Little Dragon)
08 Glitter Freeze (ft. Mark E Smith)
09 Some Kind Of Nature (ft. Lou Reed)
10 On Melancholy Hill
11 Broken
12 Sweepstakes (ft. Mos Def and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)
13 Plastic Beach (ft. Mick Jones and Paul Simonon)
14 To Binge (ft. Little Dragon)
15 Cloud of Unknowing (ft. Bobby Womack and Sinfonia ViVA)
16 Pirate Jet

Live: Spook, Groom, Mumblin Deaf Ro at the Lower Deck

This gig would be worth a mention if only for the fantastic poster. Not only that, there's also some great acts playing at the Lower Deck in Portobello tomorrow night (Friday 22nd of January).

The line-up is fantastic with Spook of the 13th Lock, Mumblin' Deaf Ro, Groom and Owensie all appearing. Even one of those great acts would be worth the admission price alone.

Tickets are €10 and doors are at 9.

Album News: Josh Rouse - El Turista

Josh Rouse doesn't get as much love around these parts as that other Josh R, or even Josh G for that matter (Ritter and Groban, btw). He does deserve your attention though, as he has some fantastic tunes in his hefty back catalogue.

His new album, El Turista will be more Spanish influenced, and is due to be released on February 2nd. The song 'Valencia' will be known to some as it was on last year's Valencia EP.

1. Bienvenido
2. Duerme
3. Lemon Tree
4. Sweet Elaine
5. Mesie Julian
6. I Will Live on Islands
7. Valencia
8. Cotton Eye Joe
9. Las Voces
10. Don't Act Tough

Live: Haiti Benefit Concert at Whelan's

Glen Hansard will be headlining a special benefit concert for Haiti this Sunday in Whelan's. Doors are 8 p.m. and tickets priced €15 went on sale this morning on tickets.ie, WaV Box Office, City Discs and Road Records.

Donation buckets will be circulating on the night and all proceeds will go to CONCERN’S HAITI APPEAL, so please head along and give what you can.

More info:

Watch a clip of Glen solo in Sydney:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interview: Fight Like Apes

Fight Like Apes

When you get to interview a band you expect insightful answers and unique information that you're the first to find out. But when you interview Pockets from Fight Like Apes you get an entirely different kind of interview. Much more fun, and in no way serious. Damn entertaining though, and some of these answers are genius.

Firstly, thanks for taking the time out to do this. You worked your way up from releasing EPs to recording a full album,was there much difference in the processes?
Absolutely. Both E.Ps. were extremely short. The album was slightly longer. That took a while. We had to figure out how many of the E.P songs we could use on the album. It was a complex equation: backlash - laziness = album you can get away with. We also produced the shit out of it as well. We recorded everything through gold amps and instead of microphones we just rubbed money over MayKay's mouth as she sang. It was amazing.

The songs on the EPs were revamped for the album itself, are you perfectionists like that?
Sheer laziness again. Why write more songs when you already have so many to choose from? We did a lucky dip to see which songs would make the album. We´ll probably throw the ones that didn't make the cut on album number 2. We hate writing songs. It takes ages.

You released an EP in the US in 2009, what's your fanbase like over there?
We're massive in the States. It's really weird to go from such humble beginnings on the mean streets of Castleknock to be selling out Madison Square Gardens to millions of screaming fans. If you ask 4 out of 5 major rock stars where they´d like to play before they die they´ll always say Madison Square Gardens. I asked MayKay, Tom, Adrian and they said the same thing. I think Bono prefers Fibber Magee's but he's a spa.

Are you aiming to crack the entire continent of America?
Already did it. It was cool. We're focused more on cracking Glasgow. Extremely difficult city to get excited about anything other than football. Full of Scots.

And where do the names for those EPs come from?
It's another equation we´ve been working on for a while. Daft pop culture reference + lots of words = wacky title = us being your new favourite band.

You played some new tunes at the Academy recently, will those make the new album?
I hope so. God we don't want to write more. That´d take ages.

And what can you tell us about it [the new album]?
It's going to an exploration of where we are as a band at the moment. A bit more sincere, a bit more in depth. A bit like a hotdog with sellotape on it. You can eat it in one go and enjoy it but it will stick with you for a while.

You play a lot of live shows, what do you do to make each one interesting?
Sometimes we open with Something Global and sometimes we open with Digifucker. It really changes things up I feel. Sometimes Tom will tell us which song we're playing next, sometimes MayKay will veto it and throw a real spanner into the works. You never know what's gonna happen next. Its a real wack├Ż rollercoaster.

You've toured with a fine selection of indie darlings, such as Los Campesinos and Kasabian (as well as bigger acts like the Prodigy), is there any band you'd love to tour with?
I've always wanted to tour with D:ream. I heard that the keyboard player was in charge of the CERN project where they created a black hole in a laboratory. Apparently they´ve gone and built a 26 mile long tunnel underneath Europe and they fire protons along it to simulate the beginning of the universe. It was very dangerous stuff altogether. Apparently the world might have ended. I´d really love to pick his brain about this. I find it fascinating that a man that spent the mid nineties dancing in gold spandex on Top Of The Pops was put in charge of such a task. It gives me hope I suppose.

You've played Eurosonic and other festivals abroad, how do they differ from Oxegen and Electric Picnic?
It takes ages to get there usually. I hate that.

Do you pay much attention to reviews? I know there was some furore over the Indo review of your album, but what about live reviews? Do you ever read those?
My parents read our reviews. They like that sorta thing.

What is your favourite song that you have written? And one that you wished you had written?
I don't really like our music. It reeks of effort. I watched this movie Capturing The Friedmans recently and the only music they had to pay for in the entire making of it was Happy Birthday when it was sung at this paedo's birthday party. The amount of bean the lad who wrote Happy Birthday must have at this stage. Can't believe it's still in copyright. I want that one.

Do you ever get confused with the actor who sang on Kanye West's 'Golddigger'? [Pockets is known to those aforementioned parents as James Fox]
Eh no. He's black.

Now that the decade is over, can you tell me your favourite album of the 00s? And your favourite Irish album? [Spoiler Warning: An actual serious answer.]
'Apologies To The Queen Mary' by Wolf Parade. It's probably not my favourite but it's a good album nonetheless. Favourite Irish album is Giveamanakick "Is It Okay To Be Loud Jesus". I miss them. God bless them.

Do you have any resolutions for 2010?
Gonna start working out. My figure has gone to shit over the last few years. I used to be a real piece of ass but these days i just feel bloated. I'm skipping meals and as a result I'm over eating when i get the chance. Sustained exercise is key really when you think about it. I´ll just feel better in myself if I shed a few pounds. Take a few notches off the old belt, get back to the original holes if you get my meaning. When I look at my high school photos I think to myself "who does this guy think he is?" and I get really jealous of him. Fuck. I'm sorry. I just get so frustrated sometimes.

This may be my favourite interview so far. Hilarious. Loved the D:Ream comment. Totally inspired. I'll post up news about the new album as soon as I get it.

Stream: Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind

Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes are touring together stateside, and have taken time out to record a gorgeous duet. It's a toe-tapping love song, and hopefully will appear on Justin's upcoming 2010 album (he should have one out this year, he records enough mateial to anyway!) Even better though would be a duets album between Earle and Landes. Now that would be impressive.

Oh, and I couldn't find any photo of the pair together. First time you've failed me in a while interwebs.


Download: Doctor Leaves - Doctor Leaves EP

Doctor Leaves EP

Reading Doctor Leaves' bio is a heartwarming experience, I'm not sure if it's the effort they put into it (it's a well-thought out extensive story of their musical lives so far), or if it's the line that begins "Between them they also have a grasp over the flute". Intentional or not, it's fun. Just like their debut EP which was released in September of 2009.

I'm only getting around to hearing it now, but it is well worth your time downloading. It was recorded last summer and has a definite summer feel. There's only two official band members: Ben Shorten and Dara Munnis, but Dara has been lending his drumsticks to many other artists for a while now, and the EP features a fine selection of the Irish Musical Who's Who. There's Ciaran and Turlough of The Chapters and Graham from the Coronas on board as well as many other names. The backing vocals of Niamh Farrell and Bairbre Munnis are gorgeous too. Just check out 'Seven Year Itch' to see what I mean (to make it handy for you, I put the video below). The catchy closing track also has one of the best titles I've heard in a long time: 'Small Fish, Small Pond'. Brilliant.

You can stream the EP in full at their MySpace (as well as other online areas), or alternatively download it for the bargain price of zero cent at their official website here. I cannot wait for a full length album from these guys.

No Step Forward
When Darkness Turns to Light
Seven Year Itch
Small Fish, Small Pond

Watch 'Seven Year Itch':

More info:
Official Website

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Album News: Richard Ashcroft - Redemption

Richard Ashcroft is set to release another post-Verve breakup album, this one called Redemption. I wonder is there something to that title?

He's worked with hip-hop producer No ID on the album, after liking what he did on Jay-Z's 'DOA'. The album is due out on March 29th, and allegedly features a host of collaborations. We'll just have to wait and see. As for now, lead single 'Are You Ready' is up on NME.com.

Watch 'Are You Ready' here:

Setlist: O Emperor, Dolan's, 17 January 2010

The always-excellent IndieLimerick has posted up a lovely review of O Emperor's latest gig at Dolan's Warehouse in Limerick. They're a band that a lot is expected of in the next twelve months, so expect to hear their name a lot around these parts.

Small Town, Local Hero
All Worked Out
Ghost of my Heart
Don't Mind Me
To The Sea
Don Quixote
Epic One
Some Small Matter
The Fat Lady Sings

Read the review here.

Watch 'Small Town, Local Hero':

Download: JJ - Let Go (from JJ No 3)

JJ No. 3 is the second album from Swedish indie-pop band jj and will be released on Secretly Canadian on March 9th. It's the follow-up to their excellent debut jj no 2, which I must say I confused with our own JJ72 more than once! (If you're wondering whatever happened to jj no. 1, it was the name of their first single.) They've made the first single 'let go', a free download, and you can grab the mp3 below.

1. "my life"
2. "and now"
3. "let go"
4. "into the light"
5. "light"
6. "voi parlate, io gioco"
7. "golden virginia"
8. "you know"
9. "i know" *
10. "no escapin' this"

JJ - 'Let Go'

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Album News: Fran Healy - Wreckorder

Fran Healy

Wreckorder is the debut solo album from Travis lead singer and songwriter Fran Healy. Travis's sheen has disappeared since their popularity in the late 90s. This is a good thing, as anyone who has stuck with them will tell you that their most recent albums Ode to J Smith and particlarly The Boy With No Name are their best work. So hopefully Fran Healy's solo album will be just as good.

There's not too much detail yet, but Healy has turned vegetarian in order to get Paul McCartney to play bass on one of the songs. There's also due to be a duet with Neko Case, and Tom from Noah and the Whale appears on violin.

No release date yet, but I'll let you know...