Swear I'm not Paul: 14/03/2010

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Setlist: Owen Pallett, Whelan's, 18 March 2010

The artist formerly known as Final Fantasy (bet it wasn't easy to find him via google with that name) stopped by Whelan's last night to play a sold-out gig. Owen Pallett put on a great show by all accounts, where he told some great stories in addition to his usual oeuvre of fantastic tunes.

1. E is for Estranged
2. This is the Dream of Win and Regine
3. The Man With No Ankles
4. That's When The Audience Died
5. Midnight Directives
6. Keep the Dog Quiet > Mt. Alpentine
7. The Great Elsewhere
8. Lewis Takes Action
9. He Poos Clouds
10. Alpha Omega (Mountain Goats cover)
11. Took You Two Years to Win My Heart
12. Flare Gun
13. The Butcher
14. Many Lives 49MP
15. Lewis Takes off His Shirt
16. Independence is No Solution
17. Song Song Song
18. Better Than Worse

(Setlist requested by Colin Dunlea - see, it does pay to ask sometimes!)

Album Review: Clancy - Road to the Heart

Paul Clancy - Road to the Heart

Clancy - Road to the Heart

Paul Clancy recorded this album before his death earlier this year. Sadly, he never got the chance to hear it. Thus, his tragic story has echoes of Mic Christopher. Paul Clancy was best known for his band National Prayer Breakfast, but on this album, he was set to carve out a name for himself as a solo act.

The album follows the trend of Irish singer-songwriters, of which dozens have emerged in the last decade or so. David Gray has a lot to answer for. Paul's voice is more like Tom Dunne of Something Happens, except without the bells and whistles. The album is sparse, leaving the vocals and lyrics to do the work.

Opener and title track 'Road to the Heart' is a lovely introduction, and one of the most powerful songs on the record. 'Sad Song' is exactly as the title suggest, it's slow, melodic, and starkly memorable. Being the drummer in NPB gave Paul a great sense of rhythm, and this is none more obvious than on the angry 'Lancelot'. "Oh how has life won me over / Ain't this life a motherfucker". Sure is, when talented acts like Paul are taken from us at 34.

Many of the songs here are in the Josh Ritter mould - especially 'Led Astray', 'Your Paul' and 'Baby You're So Cool'. There are many influences that can be heard here. 'Led Astray' has moments of the Jeff Buckley version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', and the repeated lyrics "no more will I be led astray" are particularly poignant.

'Sweet Sunshine' is a gorgeous ballad, with some beautiful arrangements. All the songs on the album were arranged and performed by Paul himself and Kevin Connolly from Herm - the two musicians working brilliantly together - there is not a hint of embellishment here. Nothing ever outstays its welcome.

It's a lovely, warm album, and a must-listen to anyone who's a fan of Irish singer-songwriters, or National Prayer Breakfast. Paul Clancy made a gem with this one, it's just an awful pity he wasn't around to see its release.

More info:

Live: The Jimmy Cake at Whelan's

The Jimmy Cake return to Whelan's this Saturday night to play some new material and celebrate 10 years in business. They're set to record and release a new album this summer, and if it's any way near as good as 2008's Spectre and Crown, it'll be a fine album indeed. So to get the chance to hear some of the new songs before they are committed to record will be a fine one.

Tickets for the show (tomorrow, Saturday 20th of March) are still on sale and cost a mere €12. What else could you get for that price these days?

Watch the Jimmy Cake in Whelan's, back in 2004:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Interview: David Barbe

David Barbe and the Quick Hooks

Renowned producer and splendid musician in his own right, David Barbe, has just released a new album with the Quick Hooks. Love It, Don't Choke It To Death is a fantastic rock album, which adds to the splendid career Barbe has carved out for himself, with Buzz Hungry and Mercyland, as well as the excellent Sugar. Barbe is also known as the producer of all the Drive-By Truckers albums, and has worked with Son Volt, R.E.M. and many other great acts. I asked him about coming from a musical background, how being a producer influences his own music, working with a variety of acts, his new album with the Quick Hooks, and a lot more.

You grew up in a very musical family, did that help or hinder you?
I think it was a help. My parents encouraged us, and always had music around, but we were never pushed towards it. Looking back, I probably learned more about the vibe of recording studios and musician culture than I was aware of growing up.

Do you think they were the reason you ended up in this career?
Well.....it didn't hurt. My dad always supported me doing this, even though my music is very different than his own. There were some pretty lean years when I was in Mercyland, and found myself with a baby and another on the way. I had pretty much decided that I needed to make music a hobby and get a straight job. My dad talked me out of it, told me I should give it one more year before doing that, which I don't know that he would have done if he had been a banker or a salesman rather than a musician. In the year that followed, John Keane hired me to engineer at his studio and Bob Mould invited me to join his (then) new band, which turned out to be Sugar. If not for the advice of my dad, things might have turned out quite differently for me.

You enjoyed success with Sugar, was it then that you knew this would be a viable career?
It's funny. I really should have, but it took a while for it to sink in. In the early Sugar days, on breaks I came home and not only worked in the studio, but still picked up a few shifts here and there at a local copy shop. Since I had a family, I always felt like I needed to make sure I was supporting them. Once things really took off for us, it also raised my profile as an engineer/producer and I have been busy as can be ever since. I think that the years I spent in Mercyland, living in the van, sleeping of floors made me aware that perhaps I should not take anything for granted. Good lesson, I suppose.

Compared to Mercyland, you didn't have as much say in Sugar. Did that inspire you to go your own way, musically?
Sure. I did wind up having a much greater say in Sugar than anticipated. Nonetheless, I did feel the need to express myself musically on my own terms. I have always had a lot of freedom as far as input into the records I produce for others, and obviously this new album gave me pretty free reign.

Why did you decide to take up producing full-time and sideline your career as a musician?
From the moment I started engineering at John Keane's I knew it was a good fit for me. Something that I felt naturally good at right away, even though I knew I had a lot to learn. By the last year of Sugar, we were up to three children (which is where it ended) and I was ready to be home with them more. When I looked forwards, I could more easily envision myself in my 40s in the studio more than I could envision myself staying on the road. Don't get me wrong, I never stopped loving the playing of music. It was just everything else involved. I realized I could make music from a record-making standpoint and do so with a wider variety of co-conspirators over time. I did not imagine it would turn into as many people and projects as it has. Now, in spite of that, I have gone out on a few small tours in the last year - last summer as Patterson Hood's bassist, and then the last couple of weeks with the Quick Hooks promoting the new record - and it has been great. I just pick my spots, though. I think there is a place in my heart for both worlds.

You've produced some great acts (particularly Son Volt and Drive-By Truckers), have you learned much from working with them?
Absolutely. I learn something from every artist with whom I work, famous and unknown, young and old. What impressed me about Son Volt was Jay Farrar's patience with the process. We made 'Wide Swing Tremolo' in their rehearsal space over about half a dozen sessions of a week or two. The band was never shown songs before they arrived. They were learning and recording simultaneously. We worked some long days and in some instances had over 50 takes of songs, but Jay had a vision of what he was looking for and never wavered. With Drive-By Truckers, there is always a sense that no inspiration should be rejected without being explored and that normal studio boundaries do not apply. For example, there have been times that we have just cut a full band rocker, and they want to completely shift directions and do, say, an acoustic based number with everyone in the room around one mic, which requires a completely different studio set-up. The traditional way would be to do the similar songs together to use time efficiently, but they prefer to follow their muse, which I believe is the better way. Go with the inspiration. I love working like that.

Does being a musician also help you as a producer?
I can't see doing it without being a musician. It helps immeasurably. It is a combination of things. Knowing how it feels on the other side of the glass aids communication. Having the ability to demonstrate what I am hearing in my head is much easier. There are lots of little things - knowing when the drum fill doesn't jibe with the lyrics; knowing when the bass line fits the drums, but should really follow the guitar; knowing when everybody is about at the boiling point and needs a breather, or knowing when everybody is at the boiling point and we are about to get an amazing performance as a result. I think my years of being in bands, both as the leader and side-man has helped me gain insight.

You've played on many of the albums you've produced, is that a conscious decision?
In most cases it just happens. I hear something in my head and want to try it out, or suggest that someone else try it and they want me to go ahead and do it. Any time I have a musical idea with an artist, I stress that it is their record, and that mine is just an idea that they are free to accept or reject. Most of the artists with whom I work want the input. There are also times where the artist just asks up front if I will play bass (or guitar or drums or keys) on their record. I need to check out the music first and make sure that I am feeling it right to do it.

How do you write songs? What's your particular process?
I get inspired by different things, and it sneaks up on me. A thought, a line, will run through my head, generally with a melody and I will realize it and then try to find the song from that. To me it is like the music is there, in the air or something, and I just recognize it and pluck it. I have never had the ability to sit down and purposely write a song....at least not any good ones.

Patterson Hood said you are "one of the best bands you'll ever get to see." Were you flattered by that description?
Yes! Especially since I regard his band in the same way.

You've worked on all the Drive-By Truckers albums. Do you have a favourite (album or song)?
That is a hard pick. It's like picking a favourite child. I would say I have favourites, but too many to narrow down. They are pretty prolific. There are always a few songs on every record that are something special

Are there any moments of working with the band that hold are particularly memorable?
Lots. This last time, I would have to say it was the tracking of 'The Wig He Made Her Wear,' which was the whole band on the first take, and everybody knew it as soon as the sound died. It was a transcendent moment.

Do you pay much heed to what other people say about you? On the internet, for example?
Only the good stuff! Just kidding. Really, I try not to worry about it too much. It is nice to see a good review, and it can be instructive to read a weak one, but at the end of the day, I try to follow what inspires me and keep on plugging away at getting better at all of this

I've interviewed many musicians, and asked them about their position on online music piracy. From a producer's perspective, how do you feel about it?
I see it both ways. Everyone wants their music to be heard, and now it can be, but if no one is willing to pay for any of it, it will ultimately have a chilling affect on the ability of some artists to carry one. If they have to spend all of their time at some other job because they simply can't make any money with music, there are some who will just dry up. The availability of music on the internet is amazing. We just need to respect the rights of others to earn a living and be willing to toss a few cents in the pot in exchange for the pleasure we glean from listening to their work.

Your solo album The Comet of the Season came out in 2001, why has it taken you so long to record the follow-up?
I have been so busy with other artists' albums that my own just took a while to germinate. When I spend 9 hours a day listening to music, I am not ready to start over again when I am done with their session. I guess the big question for me is will it be another 9 years?

How did this album come about? Why now?
For the last few years I have been occasionally playing local shows with the Quick Hooks as my backing band. They are a great group, comprised of guys from bands with whom I have worked in the studio - Harvey Milk, DBT, The Glands. Generally, what we would do is play a residency at the Caledonia Lounge. Every Monday for a month in the Spring or Fall. We played songs from 'Comet' and any new ones I was coming up with. It was always pretty casual, but the shows were well attended, and well received. There is a healthy taper community in Athens and a good many of these were recorded. I would try from time to time to do some studio time with them, but I was not able to disconnect from whatever project I was working on at the time to really do it right. The way we were able to finally do it was that I took a week of time, blocked it off, and set us up as a live band in the studio. We came in in the evenings, and just hung out until everybody was in the right frame of mind and then just played. Just like it was a show or a rehearsal. Different engineers who work at the studio would sit in the chair so I could relax my mind and get into the song. After that week we pretty much had it done. There was another stretch of a few days where we did a few more songs, two of which made the cut.

Why now? The songs and the takes were there. Once I had it was mixed and mastered, I wanted to release it. Just get it out there to be heard. Plus, you know there are plenty of times where an artist hangs on to a project too long and loses perspective. It just felt like the time was now. It didn't hurt that the release and the Big To Do [new Drive-By Truckers album] release were close enough together where we could do some shows together.

Did you find yourself being a bit of a perfectionist when recording your own album?
This time I tried not to be. I think I was on Comet of the Season. I let a lot more go with this one and am happier with the results. The singing is pretty untouched. Several are the scratch vocal. Having another engineer in the room kept me from butting in too much. Kyle Spence (drummer) had been kind enough to warn me about becoming "that guy with a studio who tweaks his own record to death."

You've played a good few live shows to promote the record. How does this compare to being in the studio?
Nice and loose. We try to keep the arrangements somewhat open-ended live. Keeps it interesting.

David Barbe and the Quick Hooks - Love It, Don't Choke It To Death is out now.

(Photo thanks to http://southernshelter.com/category/david-barbethe-quick-hooks/ Check out that site for loads of great David Barbe live shows)

Live: Wallis Bird at the Academy

Meteor Award Winner Wallis Bird will play her first headline show since being proclaimed Best Irish Female last month. She'll perform tunes from her latest album New Boots, as well as some old favourites. Her latest single is the really catchy 'LaLa Land', showcasing her talents as one of Ireland's best young acts.

Tickets for the Academy show are €19.50, and are on sale now.

Watch 'A Idea About Mary' live in Germany:

Download: Alcest - Escailles de Lune [Part I]

The new Alcest album, and follow-up to the wonderful Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde, Écailles de Lune will be released on April 20th, and in anticipation, their record label has released part one of the title track to stream and download. Have a listen to it below.

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

Alcest - 'Escailles de Lune [Part I]'

Live: No Fools Day at Boyle's

Peter who runs the excellent Irish music blog (which should've made the shortlist for the 2010 Blog Awards) 2UIBestow has organised a super special Live at Boyle's night to raise money for Haiti.

It takes place at Boyle's in Slane, Co. Meath on April 1st, and features music from Fiach, The Dirty 9s, Murphy's Law, as well as some international flavour from Danish band Mama's Sadness.

The show starts at 9 p.m., and there will be collections and raffles throughout the night - some great music too! All proceeds go to the Haven Partnership.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Setlist: X Factor Live, O2, 16 March 2010

On the day it was announced that Jedward had been dropped from their label, Sony, the X Factor Live Tour stopped off at the O2 in Dublin. Here's what each of the finalists played (as well as some of those group songs). No sign of Kandy Rain though...

The Climb
Love Story
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
She’s Out Of My Life
Don’t Stop Beleivin

Twist & Shout
Fool in Love

The Scientist
Queen of The Night
Who Wants to Live Forever

Purple Rain
Man In The Mirror

Stand By Me
Cry Me A River

Under Pressure
Rock DJ

Sex On Fire

Sweet Child of Mine

Stacey and Lucie – What A Wonderful World
Jamie, Olly and Danyl – With A Little Help From My Friends

Group songs
I Gotta Feeling
You Are Not Alone
Don’t Stop The Music

Watch 'I Gotta Feeling':

Stream: Ryan Adams - Electrosnake

With the new Ryan Adams album imminent (his "metal album"), here's a stream of the lead single 'Electrosnake'. It's actually far better than the initial idea would have you believe, and leaves me eagerly anticipating his new record Orion.

Stream 'Electrosnake':

Album News: The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards

Another track has been announced for the new Dead Weather album. We already knew 'Blue Blood Blues' was set for inclusion on the album, now 'Die By the Drop' has been confirmed as the lead single for the record. The video for the single has been directed by Floria Sigismondi, best known for his work with Marilyn Manson. Remember 'The Beautiful People' video? Awesome. Jack White has also said the album is heavier than the last. In addition, the album also has an official title, Sea of Cowards, and a release date - May 7th (11th in the US). Oh and that could well be the album cover in the pic above.

Have a listen to clips of the new single 'Die By the Drop' and 'Old Mary' here:

P.S. The single comes out next Tuesday...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Album News: The National - High Violet Tracklist

The tracklist for the new National album High Violet has been announced, and it seems that the four videos I've posted on here so far have all been accurate. All these songs we've heard will appear on the record, due May 11th, as well as the excellent 'Vanderlylle Crybaby' which has been renamed 'Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks' for the album. Have a listen to it below.

01 Terrible Love
02 Sorrow
03 Anyone's Ghost
04 Little Faith
05 Afraid of Everyone
06 Bloodbuzz Ohio
07 Lemonworld
08 Runaway
09 Conversation 16
10 England
11 Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Watch The National - 'Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks' live:

Live: Cut Copy at the Button Factory

Australian synth-poppers Cut Copy are set to return to Ireland for the first time in two years. They last played here in 2008 at the Village, and fans can get another chance to see them in the Button Factory on the 20th of July this year. Tickets will probably sell out pretty quickly, as their show at the Village was a total sell-out.

Their last album was 2008's In Ghost Colors, but since that came four years after their debut, they don't seem in any rush to go back to the studio to make the follow-up. However, you should still expect to hear a new song or two this summer.

Tickets go on sale this Thursday, and cost €22.50.

Watch Cut Copy - 'Lights and Music':

Stream: She and Him - Volume Two

she and him - volume two

She and Him release the follow-up to their enchanting debut Volume One on March 23rd. Luckily with all this interweb mumbo-jumbo, you can have a listen to it a week in advance on NPR. They've got the full album streaming over on the site, and while Volume Two hasn't hit me the same way the first one did, it's still a lovely little record.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Live: Kate Walsh at Whelan's

Kate Walsh Whelan's poster

Fantastic UK singer-songwriter Kate Walsh is returning for a headline show at the end of the month. She had been supporting Mick Flannery around the country (the two performed an amazing duet, 'Christmas Past'), but returns with her own name atop the bill for a gig in Whelan's on March 26th.

You may also have caught her on the Late Late Show, where she played single '1,000 Bees' from her recent album Light & Dark.

Tickets for the show are €15 and are on sale now. Support on the night comes from Colm Lynch.

Album Review: Holy Roman Army - Desecrations EP

Holy Roman Army - Desecrations EP

The Holy Roman Army - Desecrations EP

On Saturday, the Guardian had a feature in its weekly Guide supplement entitled "Is it time for your rubbish covers album?" which was highly entertaining, and very pertinent in an era where everyone seems to release a covers album due to sheer laziness or else to make money.

Luckily, the Holy Roman Army don't fit into either of these categories. Desecration is a free EP, where each of the five songs covered have been reinterpreted into the Holy Roman Army's own style, and fit in perfectly with their already established tunes.

So let's follow the Guardian flowchart for the Holy Roman Army?

1. Are you a pop musician?
Not necessarily pop, but definitely music. So we'll go for "Yes".

2. Do you think you are better than Marvin Gaye, Roy Orbison or Public Enemy, or indeed all of them?
Well I can't speak for the band, but I'm going to go with "No" on this one. I'd like to think they're humble enough.

4. Have you have any hits this past decade?
Well, they've only been around a few years, and last year's debut album How the Light Gets In was met to much critical acclaim. So "Yes".

7. How have you spent most of this last decade?
Not sure about the "cocaine" answer, and it's not the money one, so I'm plumping with "Consistently releasing perfectly serviceable, very successful albums"

11. Don't bother releasing an album of cover versions. It's the last dice-roll of a desperate act. Unless you're Johnny Cash. And to be fair, it's unlikely you're reading this if you are.

So perhaps not the best time for Holy Roman Army to release a covers album. It's good for us that they only released half an album then. There are some interesting choices of covers here. It opens with the Pixies 'Wave of Mutilation' which has been beautifully mutilated into something they can call their own. Rollerskate Skinny's 'Speed to my Side' is an inspired choice, and is given a whole new dimension here.

The songs which work the best are Pavement's 'Here' and Bon Iver's 'Skinny Love'. The latter is almost unrecognisable from the original, with only the lyrics left to connect the dots. Holy Roman Army haven't desecrated anything, but rather redrawn and refined in their own fashionable way. A great little EP, and a nice stopgap until the next proper album comes along. Take that Guardian!

Download the album in a variety of formats from ogg to mp3 to flac here:

Or alternatively, have a listen here:

Watch: The National - High Violet songs

Three new songs were debuted from the National at Bell House on Saturday night. Although there's no tracklist for High Violet yet, expect these new tunes to appear on the album when it's released on May 11th. the three songs played were 'Little Faith (Chrome Horse)', 'Sorrow', and 'Anyone's Ghost'. From these, 'Sorrow' is the best for me, but all sound great and provide yet another little teaser for what is sure to be a wonderful album.

Watch The National - 'Little Faith (Chrome Horse)':

Watch The National - 'Sorrow':

Watch The National - 'Anyone's Ghost':