Swear I'm not Paul: 28/02/2010

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Album Review: James Vincent McMorrow - Early in the Morning

James Vincent McMorrow - Early in the Morning

James Vincent McMorrow - Early in the Morning, a Timeline.

00:00:02 - Bon Iver. The Irish Bon Iver, that's what this sounds like. It actually sounds so much like Justin Vernon, I think I may have put on the wrong album. But it's so good, so damn good, I'm not going to check.

00:01:27 - 'If I Had a Boat' hits the chorus, and it's gorgeous. Upbeat but still gentle, it's that all-encompassing warmth which only the best folk songs have. Amazing.

00:03:15 - After slowing things down, it comes back around. Those harmonies are gorgeous. The lyrics are enchanting too. A beautiful love song.

00:04:23 - We're into track two now. It's branched out a little from the Bon Iver comparisons of the opener. But not too much, it's still gorgeous. In fact 'Hear the Noise That Moves So Soft and Low' is actually a step-up from the opener.

00:05:45 - Even when James Vincent McMorrow isn't singing the whole thing sounds amazing. That banjo riff infuses the song with a tremendous old-time feel.

00:08:15 - Not content with being Justin Vernon, JVMcM wants to be Robin Pecknold too. He's actually a far better singer and musician than that Fleet Foxes mainman, so perhaps they'll draft him in as a replacement.

00:09:33 - 'Sparrow and the Wolf' just screams folk. The title, the music, the crystal clear choral vocal, everything. One of the best songs of the year.

00:10:18 - Feck this breakdown lark, I want the upbeat back, oh here it is. Glorious.

00:11:31 - Even the outro section is magnificent. Why oh why does this song have to end?

00:12:03 - 'Breaking Hearts' is a much slower tune. It's a more formulaic track, with a Johnny Cash-style slow rhythm.

00:12:40 - When the chorus kicks in, it gets good. A nice little anti-love song, with tales of broken hearts and drinking the night away. We've all been there.

00:14:59 - This reminds me a little of Brett Dennen, albeit a better Brett Dennen. This would be the perfect song to close out an episode of Grey's Anatomy (do you hear me RTE producers, snap up James for some Irish shows before the Americans get him).

00:17:14 - The darkest song so far, 'We Don't Eat' is a sparse piano-driven tune.

00:18:57 - The lyrics are dark too, but it's a welcoming dark. Like those scenes in horror films where the protagonist goes into the creepy-looking woods, and you shout at the screen telling her not to. It's impossible to resist.

00:20:21 - The music has that quality too. There's probably no escape. There's even a fabulous crescendo. Hair standing on end moment.

00:22:12 - The most upbeat song so far. I'm almost tempted to dance to this one. You know the way Ellie Goulding is trying to make danceable folk, when in actual fact she's merely the new Dido? Well, that's not danceable folk. 'This Old Dark Machine' is. Irresistibly catchy.

00:24:28 - The lyrics are even a small bit smutty. "Hem of your dress" eh? Speaking of Hem, where did they go. Ah forget about them, this is so much better.

00:25:10 - That repeated 'I Will Love You' may well be the best refrain ever.

00:26:13 - Back to Justin Vernon territory. I hate continually comparing the two, but that's who it sounds like. t even was recorded in an isolated house by the sea. 'Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree' is the song used in the Barnardos ad. See you thought it was Bon Iver too, didn't you? You can download the track from Barnados here.

00:28:50 - It's such a beautiful song, and another of the album's many highlights.

00:30:19 - The vocals are little more slurred here, but that actually works well with the melody and rhythm.

00:31:13 - 'Down the Burning Ropes' has that train-line click-clack feel, evoking images like some of the scenes in There Will Be Blood.

00:32:11 - How the hell does he do that with his voice. Amazing in every way. Who needs extra instruments when you can sing like this. McMorrow is such a better singer than Ireland's main singer-songwriter of the 00s (Damien Rice), it's unbelievable. If he doesn't become a breakout star with this album, everything is wrong with the music industry. Everything.

00:35:07 - 'From the Woods!!' comes complete with extra punctuation just to reinforce the point. It didn't need them at all, the lyrics and vocals got the point across more than well enough.

00:37:33 - I've listened to this album many, many times at this stage, and still I forget about this. I just don't expect it. Exclamation points are needed here. Definitely.

00:39:28 - 'And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop' is the best love song of the year. It's not a straightforward love song, but what love is?

00:41:53 - When he sings it, you know he really feels it. James Vincent McMorrow, if you are reading this, will you do me a favour, and sing at my wedding? It'd be perfect.

00:44:40 - The album ends with the title track 'Early in the Morning'. Good choice to bookend the record. The repeated title is flawless throughout

00:45:11 - The lyrics, oh the lyrics: "dressing in my father's suit / cleaned his shoes". Wow.

00:45:43 - Can't believe it's over. Irish album of the year? Definitely. Actually, you know what this is...

"The best album to come out of Ireland in a decade". You can quote me on that.

Album News: Clancy - Road to the Heart

Paul Clancy sadly died in February, aged 35, from a suspected heart attack. He was a fantastic musician, whose career was just about to take off. He was once part of the National Prayer Breakfast (NPB), who drew from Lou Reed and wrote brilliant rock tunes.

His solo career attempted to go in a more, relaxed direction, and he recorded a collection of ballads for his debut album Road to the Heart. They were co-written with Herm, and the album is due to be released in April on Catchy Go Go Records.

The album will be launched at a special tribute/launch gig at Moxie Studios on Pembroke Row on April 10th, and will be available online and from Road Records.

More info:

Stream 'Hope in Your Heart', the first single from the album:

Album News: Alcest - Écailles de Lune

 Alcest - Écailles de Lune

Écailles de Lune is the confirmed title for the follow-up to one of the 00s best albums, Souvenirs d'un autre monde , from French post-rock band Alcest. Alcest originally started out as a black metal band, so when they branched into shoegaze and post-rock, it was one of the most perfect transitions ever. Their music is like a wonderful rockier French Sigur Rós, and this is definitely one of my most anticipated records.

The title means Scales of Moon in translation, and should be more metal influenced than his full-length debut. Neige had this to say about the album's concept: "This story isn't really a metaphor of death, as it would seem to be. For me, it is about a man who decides to leave one world for another one, literally. Like a passage to another reality, another state of existence.”

It also promises to be much bleaker than the first album: "This time I was especially inspired by the seaside, the energy and the exaltation you can feel when you sit in front of the sea at night. It appears terribly fascinating, full of secrets and scary at the same time."

The album is due in the US on April 20th, and he'll play a North American Tour to support it.

01 Écailles De Lune (part I)
02 Écailles De Lune (part II)
03 Percées De Lumière
04 Abysses
05 Solar Song
06 Sur L'Océan Couleur De Fer

Stream Alcest - 'Écailles de Lune (Part I)':

Wanted: Submissions for Science Gallery Exhibition

Something a little different from the usual far here on Swear I'm Not Paul, but just as important as posts about live shows, interviews or album news.

The Science Gallery is looking for proposals for its summer exhibition, and has sent out the following press release:

"Calling all experimental musicians, musical neuroscientists, sound artists, cyborg performers, dance-floor divas and harmonic engineers...

Science Gallery is currently developing a major new exhibition called BIORHYTHM: MUSIC AND THE BODY and we are seeking your proposals for gallery installations, experiments, events, workshops and performances for inclusion.

Our goal is to explore how art and science help us interpret, understand and enjoy the sounds of the 21st century. We are looking for participative experiences and experiments for the public as well as stand-alone performances.

Running for three months (2 July - 1 October, 2010), BIORHYTHM will also include special live performances, innovative installations, unique physical and mental experiences, high-profile talks, discussions and debates, and other musical and biological events web-focused interactions, games and truly collaborative experience.

To find out more about BIORHYTHM or to submit a proposal please go to http://www.sciencegallery.com/biorhythm. Submissions must be received no later than Tuesday March 30 2010 to be considered for inclusion. Please send this message to anyone you know who might like to participate in this summer's hottest show.

The Science Gallery team."

Definitely worth checking out, you could get your music used at what will be a really popular show.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Interview: Franz Nicolay

Franz Nicolay

Franz Nicolay has branched out. He released his debut solo album Major General last year, and announced that he was definitely leaving the Hold Steady earlier this year to pursue his solo endeavours properly. He's an infinitely charming gent, and talked to me about being thought of as "foreign", the freedom of going solo, piracy, his musical heritage, his unique look, as well as what he has planned next.

What was it like to be going back to performing solo after being in a band for the last few years?
It was great to feel stage fright again. I only get stage fright when I'm reaching a new plateau - the first time I played New York, the first time on television, the first time in front of a festival crowd. It's like a mile marker letting me know I'm getting somewhere.

Are you enjoying the freedom that comes with being your own boss?
I really enjoyed the six weeks off between the end of the Guignol tour in December and these solo dates in February. I hadn't had six weeks without a show in probably five years. And I get to say yes to one-off projects that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to do. For example, Guignol is going to score a two-reel Russian silent film from 1927 and perform it in Philly and New York. That said, I got itchy by the fifth week off and left a day early for tour just because I could.

Your debut solo album, Major General, was well received. Do you pay any heed to reviews?
John Barrymore had excellent advice on the subject of reviews: "One should never read them. If you don't believe the bad ones, why should you pay attention to the good ones?" A compliment is always appreciated.

Do you ever google yourself?
The days after I announced that I was leaving the Hold Steady broke me of that particular vice, which is a plus. As disturbing as it can be to "overhear" strangers saying negative things, it was equally unnerving to hear positive retrospectives of my time with the band, which had the quality of obituary.

And what is the strangest thing you've ever heard about yourself?
People have all kinds of theories about whether Franz Nicolay is my real name and what my ethnic heritage is. I'm often identified as whatever the local signifier of foreignness is. For example, only Americans ever think I'm French.

What should we expect from the follow-up to Major General?
I just demoed all the songs - I might write one more - so for the first time I know in a general way what it's going to be like: I was surprised at how much plague and apocalypse there was, and a general sense of Old Testament morals and judgement. I'm also going to work with a third-party producer for the first time. Because I already kind of know what a record I make by myself is going to sound like, and I don't ever want to be the kind of person who makes the same record twice. I like records where when I put it out, there's at least a few things on where when I listen to them I'm not sure whether they were a good idea. Laurie Anderson says, "It's good to take a long view and think, what would I really like to do if I had no limitations whatsoever?" I think it's good to take a long view and think, this isn't going to be the last record I ever make, so I don't have to use up all my ideas now.

And when can we expect it?
My hope is to record it in May and June and be ready for a fall release.

Will you be working with the same people (Brian, Yula, and Jared) who played on your debut?
I think the cast of characters will be larger on this one, but I sure hope Brian, Yula and Jared are involved. They're all pretty busy right now with other projects. Brian has played on most of the sessions I've done in the last two years - "St. Sebastian," and the Debutante Hour album I just produced, and we've talked about trying a few shows as a duo. I don't think the process for this record will be the same - by which I mean, rehearsing and recording as a rock band.

You play a lot of instruments, when and how did you start?
I started playing violin when I was five, piano a year later, French horn at nine or so, guitar of course at fifteen, mandolin at seventeen, and accordion about ten years ago. Partly it's because I need to rediscover music every few years, if that makes sense. And from a strictly quotidian point of view, I figured that I'd never be the best piano player in New York, but that if I was OK on a lot of things I'd get more gigs and have to hire fewer people on my own records.

And what is your favourite instrument?
It's almost always the new one, which right now is the banjo. Inevitably I write new songs as part of the learning process, and that doesn't hurt my affection for it.

Is there any instrument you'd love to start playing?
I've always loved the sound of the bandoneon - the oversized concertina most associated with Piazzolla and tango ensembles. But it's such a specialty instrument that it's near-impossible to find one priced for an entry-level player, and it's fiendishly difficult to learn, for technical reasons involving the button layout. I've always been a shockingly bad drummer, but there's really no hope for me to start now. Bobby Drake gave me a practice pad and a pair of sticks and was trying to help me for about a year, but I think it's a lost cause.

How do you approach songwriting?
It's like a snipe hunt and also like a dishwashing job. Sometimes you have to stalk them and trick yourself into them; sometimes you just have to sit down and do the assignment. Once in a very rare while, you get a gift. I woke up at about six in the morning a few weeks ago with a fully-formed song from a dream. Usually I either roll over and lose it, or scrawl something down that turns out to be not good at all. In this case it was a really good two-character scene. But you can't depend on that kind of thing. Some people say, "How do you get so much done?" I think most musicians don't treat their job like a job. A day is a long time if you sit with your instruments the whole time.

What is your favourite song that you have written?
I have a new song called "Felix & Adelita" that I think is really good, and the kind of stage-direction song I've not written up until this point, though I'm not selling it well enough yet live. "Cease-Fire" off "Major General" is exactly the song I wanted to write when I started to write it (though it'd be better with a bridge).

How do you feel about online piracy?
I think that it's really hard to criticize people who want to hear music, and hard to criticize a world that allows me to find DeZurik Sisters 78s from my bedroom. That said, records don't cost any less to make, and merch sales don't make that up, no matter what people say; and the more record companies that go under because people don't buy, the more artists pay for them out of pocket, and the longer they go between making them, and the sooner they're going to stop. I see people on message boards asking for an artist's entire discography and it's just discouraging; because if I asked for $15 for a CD at a merch table those are the same people who tell me that it ought to be ten; then buy one, turn, and tell their friend they'll burn it for them.

I have a theory that for a long time there were only two models for making a living in music - the patron and the troubadour. Either you worked for a rich patron and tried to get what artistic satisfaction you could while doing their bidding; or you hit the road and eked out a living playing for change, food, and a roof over your head. Then, for a brief period, there was a third: the recording artist, who stayed at home and made works for mechanical reproduction. It seems that that hundred-year window may now have closed, and that we're back to the patron model (now redefined as licensing for film and TV) and the troubadour model (hit the road and sell your T-shirts).

You have your own unique look - how did that come about?
The moustache was a 1999-vintage whim. I've always worn hats - literally since my childhood, as a toddler I had an engineer's cap I loved, and I wore a great variety of hats all through elementary school ranging from velvet berets to elaborate Chinese dragons. You can imagine the social consequences (my hairline has also probably suffered). I like to dress up; I like how characters in Kusturica films look, and I stole the sideburns from the narcoleptic Argentinian in Moulin Rouge. I have a deep and abiding belief in the efficacy of a good schtick.

Who are your biggest influences?
Charles Ives, Charles Mingus, Borges, Moondog, Nabokov, Gene Fowler, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan & The Band, Ivo Papasov, American Music Club, de Chirico, Scott Walker, TV Smith, the Muppets. In terms of artists who really set me on different courses when I first encountered them, and to whom I can go back if I need a nudge or a shove.

You have probably have more time off now, how do you wind down when not touring?
The usual ways: I learned to cook noodle soup, which was not difficult; I took some tap-dance lessons, which were; I went to the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, which was fascinating: it's a museum of outsider folk art. I was particularly fascinated by an artist called Renaldo Kuhler, from North Carolina, a scientific draftsman by trade who has spent most of his life creating a detailed imaginary country called Rocaterranea between the borders of New York and Canada, whose language is a mix of Slavic, Yiddish, and Spanish; and whose costume and political history has a whiff of Tsarist Russia. I don't actually have more time off - I'm scheduled to be touring 2-3 weeks out of every month through August.

If you could describe your music to someone who has never heard it before, what would you say?
Anarchic archaic.

Have you any plans to come back to Europe for your solo tour?
I'll be in Holland and the UK in March, then back for continental dates in July.

More info:

Live Review: Choice Music Prize 2009

Last night saw some excellent live performances from many of the nominees for the Choice Music Prize 2009 (don't worry, you are looking at the ceremony held in 2010, it's just for the best Irish album of 2009), but by far the best were Dark Room Notes and And So I Watch You From Afar. Both bands are on their debut albums, so who knows what the future may hold awards-wise.

CODES opened the night strongly, before Julie Feeney toned it down a notch. Feeney had been the darkhorse when nominees were announced, but crept up to become favourite with PaddyPower heading into last night's show. Her outfit last night was definitely note worthy, probably moreso than her performance. (Check it out here.)

Dark Room Notes were next up and impressed many people who may have missed them first time around, or else wrote them off. Their live show is so much better than the album. Duckworth Lewis Method released one of my favourite summer albums of 2009, but with Neil Hannon already having a gong in his possession, it was always a longshot to see them winning. Their live stint last night was fantastically entertaining though.

Valerie Francis was also very impressive. It was a nice, subtle nuanced performance which contrasted well with the all-out rock of CODES and the jangly pop of Duckworth Lewis Method. Her live take on 'Punches' was especially great. It was a real treat to see so many wonderful Irish acts performing a variety of genres. I suggest you grab a ticket for the Choice Music Prize 2010 Award Show as soon as possible next year.

When I saw the nominees, I didn't actually expect The Swell Season would play, but play they did and gave a fine performance. It's just a pity for Glen that his second album with Marketa wasn't a patch on the first. Last night, they were joined on 'Paper Cup' by Leonard Cohen's guitarist, unfortunately not Leonard himself, but it'll do for now.

Adrian Crowley was second last on stage, but would return later to pick up his gong. He's a damn fine performer, and definitely a worthy winner. And So I Watch You From Afar closed the night with a stonking set, infused with marvellous instrumental rock. Some people had definitely written them off before, but I'm sure they converted many last night. If I had to guess, I'd say they were probably in the running but narrowly missed out.

Laura Izibor couldn't make it last night, due to something or other, nor could Bell x1 (touring commitments) but so many other great acts played, it didn't make too much difference. It would've been nice to have them all there though. Maybe next year...

Watch the Duckworth Lewis Method at last night's show:

Awards: Choice Music Prize 2009 Winner Adrian Crowley

Choice Music Prize 2009 Winner Adrian Crowley

Congratulations to Adrian Crowley who won the fifth annual Choice Music Award last night at Vicar Street. The award is given to the best Irish album of the year (thus Choice Music Prize 2009). His album Season of the Sparks was pronounced the winner by Jim Carroll of the Irish Times, who was the non-voting chair of an extensive judging panel, made up of luminaries from the entire Irish music scene.

Jim asked for predictions yesterday on his On the Record blog, and guess who picked the winner correctly. That's right, yours truly.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Live: Flight of the Conchords at the Olympia

New Zealand comedy-folk duo Flight of the Conchords are to play Dublin's Olympia Theatre for two nights as part of their fifteen date European Tour. You probably know them from the television series of the same name, but if you haven't heard them, I suggest you check out the programme asap. Binary solo. I wouldn't expect to hear too many new tunes (sadly, I don't think there will be a third season of the show), but they're sure to play all their favourites.

They'll be playing the Olympia on the 5th and 6th of May. Tickets cost €39.20 and go on sale this Friday.

Thanks to Darren over at culch.ie for the heads up.

Watch 'The Humans are Dead'. The first time I saw this was on the train, and I split myself laughing. Much to the amusement of the other passengers:

Setlist: Two Door Cinema Club, Dolan's, 2 February 2010

I reviewed Two Door Cinema Club's debut album last week, and it seems that it's getting a lot of love from every direction. They're definitely the breakout stars of 2010, as far as Irish/Northern Irish bands go, and are sure to become even bigger. So now is a great time to catch them live, when they're still playing medium-sized venues like Dolan's in Limerick. The setlist comes to me via IndieLimerick, who also have a review of the show up. Read it here.

Cigarettes In The Theatre
Undercover Martyn
What You Know
Do You Want It All?
Something Good Can Work
This Is The Life
Costume Party
You're Not Stubborn
Eat That Up It's Good For You
Come Back Home
I Can Talk

Watch opener 'Cigarettes in the Theatre':

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Single Review: Rihanna - Rude Boy

Disclaimer: I don't own any Rihanna albums.

But that doesn't make me any less of a judge when it comes to reviewing her singles. It probably shows that if anything I'm biased against her. If anything, she'd have to make a whopper of a single for it to even catch my attention. Only five years into her career, she's released four albums and sixteen singles.

I was a fan of her debut single, 'Pon de Replay' back in 2005. It was a great dancehall single, but a lot of her subsequent material has been lacking. 'SOS' would be the only other one of her first fifteen singles I'd have any time for. I don't like 'Umbrella', and still can't understand how so many people love its triteness. Jay-Z has guested on so many other better songs that didn't get the same amount of love.

Single XVI is from her newest album Rated R, and is the best song Rihanna has ever recorded. Originally intended as just a 30-second ditty, it grew into a monster of a song, full of fantastic hooks. It takes notes from M.I.A., especially in the extremely psychedelic video.

The lyrics are some of the smuttiest you'll hear on daytime radio: "Come on Rude Boy, are you big enough? Come on Rude Boy, can you get it up?", but this gritty realism only adds to the song's impact. Real girls aren't all flowers and cupcakes like the Saturdays or Florence and the Machine might have you believe; real girls want it, and they want it now. However, if you're a parent, don't let your teenage boy hear this song, he'll realise that girls do want, want, want as much as boys do.

It's a tremendously catchy song, and the best in Rihanna's oeuvre. However, I feel many people aren't giving it the chance it deserves - it only made #23 in the US chart, where Rihanna has had 11 top ten singles. If you're flicking through the music channels on TV later on and see something colourful and flashy, leave it on, you'll love it.

Probably the best pop-R&B single of the year.

Watch Rihanna - 'Rude Boy':

Live: Paul McCartney at the RDS

...And here's me thinking that I had only one chance to see Paul McCartney live (last Christmas at the O2). But no, the selfish so-and-so has announced a new Irish date, which means other people get to see them, and can now go "oh I saw him too" and knock me down a peg or two. Anyhow, Paul McCartney will be playing Dublin's RDS on June 12th.

Tickets go on sale on Monday, 8th of March, and cost €81.25, €70, €131.25 and €156.25.

Have a look at this excellent version of 'Blackbird' last December at the O2:

Live: You Say Party! We Say Die! at the Academy

YSP!WSD! (that's a mouthful isn't it? Kind of like WYSIWYG) are coming to Dublin to play the Academy. They're promoting their latest album, XXXX, which was released late last year, and will be playing our nation's capital on June 5th.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Wednesday), and cost €15.

Watch 'The Gap':

Monday, March 1, 2010

Watch: Jason Isbell - We've Met

Jason Isbell played a new song from his upcoming 400 Unit album last night in Fairfield, CT. He read from lyrics sheets as he was playing it, but luckily it was recorded in full. Hear it and have a watch below.

The Blue
Goddamn Lonely Love
We've Met
Rachel's Song (James McMurty cover)
The Magician
In a Razor Town
When the Well Runs Dry
Dress Blues
Soldiers Get Strange
TVA -->
Just To Know What You've Been Dreaming (Will Johnson cover)
Decoration Day

Watch Jason Isbell - 'We've Met':

Interview: Delphic

I got the chance to interview Richard "Rick" Boardman from Stockport band Delphic this morning, and he proved to be a very open and entertaining interviewee. He discussed the band's origins, learning live tips from Orbital, appearing on Jools Holland, as well as talking about their excellent debut album Acolyte.

When did you guys get together?
We got together at some point in 2008.

What made you draft in a new lead singer? And change your name from Snowfight in the City Centre?
It was mainly me and Mark who were in Snowfight, but there was a load of musicians, too many, and it kind of got a bit out of hand really. Towards the end of it, James [Cook, vocalist] was kinda flirting with the idea of joining our band. One night the three of us were out and we had a conversation, I guess it's like a dirty affair, and thought "you know what, we could do something more exciting". Unfortunately for all the other guys in the band, we went off and did something with the three of us and left them behind. In a way we kind of had to escape to do something which was exciting.

Who are your influences?
Our influences are really, really wide-ranging. There's two kind of sides to it: there's the songwriting side where there's people from Burt Bacharach to Radiohead, and Bowie and people who write songs with an interesting harmony and melody; and then on the other side, there's the dance music side, where we've written these songs and we've presented them in a dance style. We're really interested in 90s Euphoric dance music to start off with. That was one of the things that initially inspired us. We were listening to a lot of dance music, and we were interested in the way 90s people like Orbital and Underworld and the Future Sound of London put a lot of soul and emotion into dance music, and all the build-ups and chord sequences they use, they're really euphoric and emotive rather than cold electro music. We were into that and wanted to push it into the future, so we got into minimal and techno, and recorded the album in Berlin, so all of that feeds into it.

Synths seem to have made a comeback, why do you think that is?
I think everything kinda goes in cycles. It was an answer to the NME guitar revolution, where all the chord sequences were continually ripping off Marquee Moon. It had just got to a point where it had started off exciting, with the Strokes and everything, and other bands like the Killers and Franz Ferdinand, then it progressively gets worse and more watered down as it goes on, people try to imitate those acts, and keeps getting worse until people decide they want to change. I think one of the reasons we were into synths was partly because we were sick to death of indie guitar music, and partly because that was what we had lying around. Adam had a load of old synthesisers lying around in his house for some bizarre reason, he doesn't even play music. We took them to a nice little cottage in the lake district to write some songs early on. They then defined the music we wrote.

You played some of the big UK festivals last year, did you find this helped expand your fanbase?
Absolutely yeah, it really did. We'd been gigging since early 2009, we started off with a little tour with the Streets and a European tour with Bloc Party. We were trying how to learn how to really push the music out, and we played a couple of really good slots at a couple of festivals, like Reading and Leeds. But I think it wasn't just the fanbase it helped. We were recording our album at the same time, so it helped the songs, as we were constantly referencing the live sound, and the live sound was growing. We were trying to get some of those things, some of those little live tricks we did back into the record.

As well as Bloc Party and the Streets, you've supported Orbital. Is there any dream act you'd love to share a stage with?
There's a few that I'd love to share a stage with but probably couldn't. Bjork is my all-time favourite artist, and we all really admire her, but I don't think I could actually seriously ever be up there with her. But there's people like Radiohead we'd love to play with, people you could learn things from. Radiohead are one of the most amazing live acts, and needless to say I think it'd be really exciting to play with them. I must put a call into our booking agents!

Did you learn anything from working with Orbital and Bloc Party?
Yeah, we did, definitely. One thing Bloc Party has is a lot of energy on stage and we started off very still, and very much with Kraftwerk in our mind. We just wanted to play our best. But after playing with Bloc Party, and them playing with so much energy on stage, it was hard not for that to seep into our live show. In a live sense, that really came through. Playing with Orbital was great because they do everything live - they use laptops, but they don't use a backing track. When we were playing with Orbital we were just getting into playing a lot more stuff live, and now all the synths are running live, and a lot of that is influenced by Orbital. So in soundcheck, we'd literally stand behind them on the stage, and look at them with a notebook and just write down what they were doing, just to get ideas of how to play in the synth world.

Then you moved on to your own headline tours, and co-headlining with Northern Ireland's Two Door Cinema Club, was that a difficult transition?
Not at all, it was just exciting. The Two Door Cinema Club tour was great fun, and we really admire that band on both a musical level and a personal level. We get on with them really well. Then after the album came out we did our own headline tour which was great because we're in control of the show. We get to decorate it with lights, and how we like, and we can push it that extra bit, that 5 or 10%, really make the most out of it. We can indulge in longer sets and longer mixes between songs, and play around with the mixes, because we kind of mix everything together like a DJ would.

What was it like playing on Later With Jools Holland back in November?
It's one of those boxes you're kind of desperate to tick early as a band, and a lot of great bands that have emerged have gone through that. It's like an institution. We didn't really sleep for about a week beforehand, we were just terrified that our gear would break down. It wasn't us being necessarily nervous about being on TV. Playing a lot our synths live and stuff, so we were worried something might blow up or go wrong. But it was fine, it was a really relaxing environment to spend a couple of days down there, and everyone talks you through it. It was quite daunting.

The BBC Sound of 2010 Poll must have been a highlight as well?
In a way, not necessarily. The ultimate highlight for us happened a week later - releasing out debut record. Before that, the BBC came out, and people at our label and in our management like to get excited about that kind of thing. But for us, it wasn't really a huge deal, we were just desperate to get the album out. And cynically looking at it, it was good, because it exposes us to a lot of people and promotion. It's a prestigious list, but it's got out of hand in recent years. This country has a tendency to put unnecessary pressure on people and they can never live up to it, so we kinda just take all that with a pinch of salt really.

Do you find there's a lot of pressure on you, from lists like this and being hyped as NME's Next Big Thing?
We would if we were different people, and I don't know how other people on the list are coping with it, but we don't take it too seriously. We try not to read too much stuff in the media, and the three of us have a laugh with it, and if we do read anything, we don't take it seriously, or pay too much attention. I know I sound like a footballer in a post-match interview, like Ryan Giggs, who never says what he means to say, but it genuinely is the truth. We just focus on what we're doing, and everything else we just shrug it off whether it's good or bad.

So, do you ever tire of being compared to "this band" or "that band"?
When we started, we thought that we gotta think of a name for what we're doing, and we called it post-dance. The reason we did that is because we didn't want to be pigeon-holed or put into certain categories, so you're desperate to find your own voice. But I also understand because I do it myself, people need to compare you, especially when you're a new band, so people can understand what type of band you are. I do it myself sometimes, "I'm really into this band, they're like a cross between this and this". It just happens, and when someone else says the same thing, it gets repeated over and over again. It's something that's happened, but it doesn't affect what's going on in the future with Delphic. We're on a particular path, and we'll get to the end of that path, regardless of what's happening around us. We've got a goal and we'll achieve that goal, on album two and three, and nothing that's sad about us will affect where we're going.

How would you describe your debut album?
Concisely, I would describe it as a good combination of euphoric and melancholic. We wanted to tap into that Manchester melancholy, and all that euphoric stuff with the fills and the synths. It's quite an optimistic record. We set out to make an electronic record with soul, and we feel we've achieved that - to evoke emotion from what is essentially dance music, and have songs in there as well.

How do you go about writing songs?
It's a torturous process for us in some ways, but it's the most exhilarating part of being in a band. Some bands write songs so they can go on tour, some write to produce music and great art, to leave something behind them that they're proud of. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to write songs. The three of us live together in a flat, we've got a little studio up there, and spend a lot of time together, so it's great. Me and Mark can write there, James and Mark can write there, or James and Me can go up there. Three people can crowd it sometimes, so we consciously only work that way. We build up beats and two people will work on that, and then another two, and finally when it's built up to about 95%, the whole thing will be augmented by Dan, our drummer, who adds a real kind of organic and live feel to it. It's quite exciting. That was the process for the first record. I think it's going to be quite different for the second, because you're defined by your limitations, i.e. writing in different ways and from different perspectives, and see what comes out. We'll try consciously to have a slightly different technique next time.

Do you have any input in which songs are chosen as singles?
To be honest, we do have input. We're quite aware that although the initial ideas are written in a very natural way, and often these ideas come when you're half asleep or when you can't quite predict them, but when you're working on them in the latter stages, you're very much aware that 'Doubt' would be a single, and it probably would be our first single. We knew that 'Halcyon' was going to be a single. We knew that 'Acolyte', the eight minute instrumental epic wouldn't be a single. We knew that in the way we had written them. We're interested in pop music. We listen to Godspeed You Black Emperor, but we'll also listen to Lady Gaga, and we'll respect the two equally, and admire them both the same. We will write songs sometimes in a pop inspired way. It's interesting, but sometimes we'll write songs in an epic dance way also. We're aware of it, and luckily we've set up our own label and licensed it to the bigger labels. In this way, we're pretty much in complete control of these decisions. We know to accept people's advice, but ultimately we have the final say, which is quite liberating, and quite rare for a band in this day and age, in any day and age.

What's next for Delphic?
This year sees a celebration of the album in touring around the world, which is quite exciting. We'll get to see a lot of new places. We'll go to Australia for the first time, and even playing in Ireland for the first time in a week (March 6th), and America for the first time - at the Coachella Festival. And then try to move forward. The reason we're here is we enjoy being creative, and it's a weird thing in a band, we now spend a lot of time talking to people or playing gigs or travelling around, and not getting as much chance to creative. So we're desperate to get back and write new stuff. When we're on tour we'll try and write stuff, we'll take our laptops with us and set up a sort of studio on the bus. It's finding space to push it forward as soon as we can.

Delphic play the Academy, Dublin on Saturday March 6th. Tickets are on sale now.

Full list of UK & Ireland Dates in March:
04 Middlesbrough - Teeside University
06 Dublin - The Academy
07 Stoke - Sugarmill
09 Northampton - Roadmender
11 Edinburgh - Studio 24
12 Newcastle - Digital
14 Birmingham - O2 Academy
15 London - Heaven
16 Cambridge - Junction
17 Manchester - Sankeys
19 Sheffield - Leadmill
20 Southampton - University

More info:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Download: The Rolling Stones - 17-10-1973 Brussels Bootleg

Here's a wonderful bootleg from the Rolling Stones, recorded the 17th of October, 1973 in Brussels, Belgium. Plenty of classic tunes on here, but the highlights are a fantastic 'Midnight Rambler', and the closer 'Street Fighting Man'. Sounds nothing like the studio versions. A recommended download.

1. Brown Sugar
2. Gimme Shelter
3. Happy
4. Tumbling Dice
5. Dancing with Mr. D
6. Angie
7. You Can't Always Get What You Want
8. Midnight Rambler
9. Honky-Tonk Women
10. All Down The Line
11. Rip This Joint
12. Jumping Jack Flash
13. Street Fighting Man

Full Show

Setlist: JLS, O2 Dublin, 27 February 2010

X-Factor runners-up JLS played their biggest ever Irish gig, headlining the O2 in Dublin last night.

1. Private
2. Heal this heartbreak
3. Kickstart
4. Beat Again
5. If I Ever
6. Crazy for you
7. Close to you
8. Only Making Love
Michael Jackson Medley:
9. Aston-I want you back
10. JB-Dont stop till you get enough
11. Oritse-Beat it
12. Marvin-The way you make me feel
13. One shot
14. Keep you
15. Only tonight
16. Umbrella
17. Beat Again (Reprise)
18. Everybody in love

Watch opener 'Private':