Swear I'm not Paul: 11/04/2010

My blog has moved! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit http://www.swearimnotpaul.com and update your bookmarks.

Friday, April 16, 2010

List: 40 Reasons to Get Excited About Irish Music

Today the US website Flavorwire responded to Rolling Stone magazine's '40 Reasons to get Excited About Music' with their own '40 Better Reasons...' It must be said that the Flavorwire article is better, and the reasons selected are better. That said, the RS one is worth a gander at anyway. However, not all 80 reasons apply to music in Ireland. Some do, some don't. So here's my 40 Reasons to Get Excited About Irish Music... (note: these aren't in a specific order, they are all just as important as each other)

Ireland's "boutique festival" is back for its sixth edition, coming on leaps and bounds from Groove Armada, David Kitt, and Super Furry Animals headlining in 2004. This year there are tonnes of great acts from at home and abroad, with the Frames being the pick of the locals and a reunited Roxy Music the biggest act on the bill.

Taking over from Witnness, Oxegen has quickly become the must visit event for any music lover. Now taking place over three days in July, the 2010 lineup promises to be the most diverse ever, with everything from hip-hop to folk to dance. There's a very international feel to this year's showcase with Eminem, Jay-Z, and Muse topping the bill.

A much newer festival than the two behemoths, Indie-Pendence will take place on the August bank holiday weekend this year, and features some of the best upcoming Irish acts. Expect to hear and see Jape, The Coronas, The Chapters, CODES, Yes Cadets, and many more over three days.

The other guy in the "little two", Castlepalooza takes place in Tullamore in August, and shares many acts with its sister festival Indie-Pendence. Among the biggest draws this year is Mercury Rev, but of the local acts, Fionn Regan is sure to put on a fantastic show.

#5 - HWCH
Hard Working Class Heroes takes place every September and showcases the best in young Irish talent. It's an essential step for any upcoming band, and past HWCH gigs have increased the exposure of acts such as Ham Sandwich, Fight Like Apes, Super Extra Bonus Party, Halves, RSAG, and Dark Room Notes. Expect to see a lot of exciting new acts this September.

Only two weeks left until the opening night of the 2010 KK R&R Festival, and anticipation is growing. This year's line-up is the best yet, featuring great American acts - Josh Ritter, Joe Pug, the Duke and the King, and Jason Isbell are all due to perform - as well as dozens of homegrown artists. Local highlights should be James Vincent McMorrow, Jezzebelle, Clive Barnes, and the Sullivan Brothers. Many of the gigs are free, and some take place during the day. Make sure to check out the lineup.

Not only sponsoring Oxegen, Heineken also have their hands in other pies (or should that be lagers?), particularly the Green Energy festival which takes place in Dublin in May. They also sponsor Green Spheres events around the country, and run a wonderful music website, featuring some of Ireland's best music journalists.

I know I harp on about this a lot, but 2UIBestow is the best music blog in Ireland, particularly when it comes to homegrown talent. Peter Nagle updates daily with reviews, downloads, and wonderful features - all concerned with promoting the best of Irish. A lot of acts have come to my attention because of Peter, and if you haven't checked out his wonderful blog, I suggest you do so immediately.

The perennial winner of Best Music Blog at the Irish Blog Awards, Nialler9 is essential daily reading for any follower of Irish music. Most of his posts are an eclectic mix of talent, and there's a lot of worldwide music coverage, but he often has exclusive domestic material, and his inclusions on the monthly MAP mixtape are always inspired.

Irish Times music critic Jim Carroll runs a regular blog alongside his weekly reviews and features in the IT arts supplement The Ticket. While he does not post as often as some other Irish bloggers, his profile as a national journalist brings a lot of traffic - thus generating an outlandish amount of reader interaction. Always a great place to hang out - especially when there's something controversial.

Ireland's longest-running music magazine, Hot Press has always been at the forefront of domestic coverage. The internet has probably decreased its readership in recent years, but it still provides great articles and interviews every fortnight. Plus it still costs less than a breakfast roll.

#12 - STATE.IE
Originally beginning life as an answer to Hot Press, the once printed magazine is now an online-only affair, providing music news from all around the globe. It has a large number of fantastic writers, thus providing a great all-round look at the music world.

While these aren't Irish websites, many local acts are using them to stream their songs and offer up free downloads. A song uploaded to Soundcloud can easily be embedded onto any other website, and Bandcamp offers an easy way to download tracks. Two of the best recent examples have been the free giveaways of Cast of Cheers' debut album Chariot and the Holy Roman Army's Desecrations EP.

A wonderful remedy for overpriced tickets on eBay, toutless is a message board which allows users to post up Tickets for Sale as well as Tickets Wanted. This wouldn't be too interesting in its own right, except for the fact that toutless forbids any kind of profiteering, and tickets must be sold at cost price or lower. Check it out, you could find yourself a bargain.

#15 - CLUAS
Now ten years old, Cluas is Ireland's longest running music webzine. It has many sections, but the best of which is always its live reviews. The writers attend a lot of gigs around the country (but mostly in the capital) and provide fantastic feedback.

Run by two diligent writers, GoldenPlec features more competitions than the Olympics. There's always plenty on offer, and is a great draw to the site. Missed your chance to buy a ticket to a gig? There's probably a competition on here somewhere to win them. And to get you to stick around, there's news, reviews, and lots more.

A great website with music news, interviews, and competitions. However, I must say that the best thing to come out of Thumped is their regular newsletter which rounds up the best of these. Always welcome in my inbox, I highly recommend subscribing to it. And when you're done there, pop over to the forum for a chinwag.

#18 - MUZU.TV
Muzu.tv is essentially the Irish equivalent of YouTube, and thus hosts a heap of local music videos. They're easily uploadable and easily embeddable, allowing even the most technophobic bunch of musicians to share and show off their live performances.

A wonderful idea, where bands come to play on a balcony overlooking Dublin. It's no Woodstock, but the stage has hosted many great acts, and the site's videos have had over 10 million views from around the world.

Established in 2005, the Choice Music Prize is the brainchild of Jim Carroll and an answer to the UK's Mercury Music Prize. Every year it selects ten of the best national albums, and then whittles them down to one eventual winner at a glitzy awards ceremony in Vicar Street. This year's winner was Adrian Crowley's Season of Sparks which beat off more commercial acts such as Bell x1 and the Swell Season to take home the €10,000 cheque.

The object of scorn from many music snobs, the Meteor Awards is Ireland's biggest music awards ceremony, and far more credible than the Brit Awards. It showcases the best in Irish Pop, but aside from Westlife winning every year, the Best Male and Best Female categories always give great exposure. Wallis Bird was named this year's Best Female and has increased her profile greatly as a result.

The first annual Irish Music Television Awards were held last October, and the follow-up ceremony is due to take place around the same time this year. It features a number of diverse categories highlighting the best in Irish music video production. The two big awards on the night are the Best Overall Video and the Best Director prizes.

Presented by Sunday Tribune journalist Una Mullally, Ceol ar Imeall is a late night music show on TG4, which perhaps did not get as much attention as it deserved due its late-night timeslot. A fantastic show which hopefully will be moved to an earlier time when it returns for a second season.

Recorded in a church in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Other Voices is the rawest music show on Irish television. Featuring both interviews and live performances, it highlights local and international acts, as well as established artists alongside smaller names.

When TV3 bought Channel 6 and renamed it 3e, Irish music suffered a huge blow with the demise of Nightshift. However, 6's music presenters Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally moved to RTE2 to cover alternative music on the bizarrely titled When Under Ether (I know it's a PJ Harvey song, but they could've just called it "Music".)

#26 - 2XM
There was a lot of fuss kicked up when it was announced that BBC 6 Music was to disappear. Luckily Ireland's equivalent is staying around. 2XM is home to many great DJs, and caters to a much more varied market than its parent station 2FM. Highlights are Aoife Barrys' 'Sweet Oblivion', 'The Analogue Hour', and 'Wired for Sound'.

"The home of Rock in Dublin", and my favourite Dublin station, Phantom FM plays a lot of Irish acts in its rotation. It's the original home of When Under Ether presenter Michelle Doherty, but there are countless other wonderful DJs, catering for all tastes (as long as it's rock).

#28 - BEAT 102 103
Little known in Dublin, Beat 102 103 (or Beat FM) caters to the south-east. It's mainly a pop station, and plays the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce, and the Black Eyed Peas, but is also known to play local acts - particularly on 'Irish Beats' with Rob O'Connor.

This year's international Record Store Day takes place tomorrow, April 17th, and offers music fans the chance to get their hands on some rare material. It also provides a great outlet for independent record stores, such as Road Records, Tower Records, and many other music shops outside the capital to get punters through the doors. For a full list of RSD records, check out this great article on thumped.

The cleverly titled independent record label is host to a large number of cheap and cheerful albums and EPs. There are dozens of great discounts to be found, as well as exclusive new releases and re-releases of classic albums. All the albums can be streamed beforehand, and free downloads of a track or two are always available to sample.

Situated on Fade Street in Dublin, Road Records is one of Ireland's finest independent record stores. Home to a range of vinyl, as well as the wonderful Record of the Month club, there is something in here to suit everyone's tastes. It's open seven days a week, and is a must-visit for any collector.

Just off Grafton Street (not the one upstairs in Eason), Tower Records is a fantastic music shop in its own right, but really comes to life when it hosts one of its many fantastic in-store performances. Many leading Irish acts have played in the back of the shop, and a lot of great music can be heard for free while browsing the shelves.

#33 - O2 ARENA
Formerly the Point Theatre, the O2 is Ireland's largest indoor music venue (as far as I know), and hosts all the big global names. I saw Paul McCartney there last year, and Iron Maiden and Stevie Wonder are set to take to the stage at the docks this year. It looks fantastic since the revamp, and the sound has improved greatly too.

The Grand Canal Theatre just opened last month, but is due to host a large number of concerts, as well as many other events, over the coming months. The little brother of the bigger O2, it's a very plush venue, and is sure to become a favourite on the live scene.

A medium-sized venue, and one which comedians Dara O'Briain and Tommy Tiernan return to time and again, Vicar Street is also host to semi-intimate gigs from some of Ireland's best loved musicians. Bell x1, the Frames, and the Cranberries are all fans of the venue, and it has also held some of the world's biggest names - James Brown, Steve Earle, Nick Cave, and Jeff Beck have all played in Vicar Street at one time or another.

#36 - WHELAN'S
Whaln's, together with the Village and its upper floor is one of Ireland's best music venues. Hundreds of artists have taken to one of its many stages since it first opened its doors over twenty years ago. Many acts who are since gone, such as Mic Christopher and Jeff Buckley, have performed in this intimate venue, which hosts a different musical event every night of the week.

A temporary venue each year in Cork, the Marquee is the temporary home of many global superstars. It began in 2005 with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and in 2010 will provide a roof for an eclectic group containing Paul Weller, Christy Moore, Snoop Dogg, Westlife, and Madness.

#38 - DOLAN'S
Dolan's Warehouse is home to traditional Irish music many days of the week, but often showcases more contemporary artists. The musical home of the Cranberries, Dolan's in Limerick is Munster's best music venue, and has been for many years.

Connaught's finest music venue is often a stop for artists when doing a mini-tour of Ireland. Many acts play Dublin and Belfast and then stop off in Galway. The city is fantastic, and this venue is one of its jewels. A fantastic small venue, it will see the likes of Richard Hawley and Dinosaur Jr come through its doors in the coming weeks.

Where would Irish music be without the actual musicians? There's so many great established acts, as well as many more coming up through the ranks. It would be unfair to single out just one. But maybe not fifty...

Album News: Bill Coleman - Black and Green EP (False North)

Bill Coleman - Black and Green EP

Bill Coleman has unleashed the latest part of his EP series, following on from Black and Red, he's released Black and Green, also called False North due to the EP's opening track. It can be downloaded for any price you choose (click the link below), but before you do have a sample of the track 'False North' as an mp3 below. You can download the EP in a variety of flavours, mp3, FLAC, whatever you want. Black and Blue is due later this month.

1. False North
2. Church of Second Chances
3. She Moved Through the Fair
4. I Want You to Know (C:\ Driver Bray Pride Mix)

Bill Coleman - 'False North'

Full EP

Download: 202s - Virtual 7 Inch #1

I might be looking for trouble by titling a post "virtual seven inch", but how and ever. Irish rock band 202s (who released their self-titled debut last year) have announced the first in their series of remix singles. Thus the title 'Virtual 7 Inch #1'.

The first release features remixes from Strands as well as St. Catherine's Home for Lazy Infants. Strands is the new project of Stephen Shannon from Halfset, while SCHFLI were another act to release a debut album in 2009. Theirs was called Old Ghosts.

1. 'A Little At A Time' (Strands remix)
2. 'Repeat' (SCHFLI remix)


More info:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Live: James Vincent McMorrow at Whelan's

After a string of dates around the country, as well as his support of Rain Machine this weekend, James Vincent McMorrow has announced a headline gig at Whelan's this June. The excellent singer-songwriter (who I ranked #3 in the 50 Best Irish Acts Today) released his self-titled debut album to great acclaim last month.

He'll be playing Whelan's on June 17th, with tickets priced €13.50 on sale tomorrow.

Watch JVMcM on the View:

The Annotated Bell x1 - Music in Mouth

Bell x1 - Music in Mouth cover

Part Two of my Annotated Bell x1 series. This time it's Music in Mouth from 2003. Please let me know if there are any omissions or if the lyrics mean something totally different than what I have. Or leave a comment if you found this any way useful or amusing.


I need some crayon light
I need some colouring in
I need somebody who's going to give in

I need my own moon landing
I need a mission to Mars
I need to carry out repairs by the light of your star

You say you're missing my voice now
Yea, I'm missing it too
I'm missing my voice when it's talking to you

I'm hearing your voice now
And here I go again
Coming over like mist be coming rain

All this serves to tell me
Is maybe there's no ladders in this game at all
All this serves to tell me is maybe only snakes
Like the one in the garden that has to crawl2

All this serves to tell me
Is maybe there's no ladders in this game at all
All this serves to tell me is maybe only snakes
Like the one in the garden fucked it all

I need to smile like an angel
I need to smile like a fool
I need to smile like I'm pissing
In your swimming pool

1 This is a play on the traditional children's board game Snakes and Ladders. In the game, the ladder helps the player progress, whereas the snake moves the player backwards. It's usually a square board made up of 100 smaller squares, with the winner the one who reaches square 100 first. Lots of fun for children, but ridiculously tedious for adults. If you don't believe me, download the iPhone app here.
2 A reference to the serpent in the Garden of Eden (c.f. 'Eve, the Apple of My Eye' and 'The Money'), who was in actuality the Devil in disguise. It was he who tempted Eve to eat the apple, therefore "fucked it all".


I should have known
By the arc of the empty wine glass
I should have known
'Cos you step on, don't walk over cracks
Looking over my shoulder
To see you looking back over yours
But you were paying the ferryman
Even after Chris said don't2

But you're not Maud Gonne3
Not Maud Gonne
No you're not Maude Gonne

You're not Maud Gonne
But then again neither was she
The only one talking now
Is my alphabet soup
I'd say you'd like children
But you couldn't eat a whole one
The only one talking now
Is my alphabet soup
And he's on a loop

I should have known
But I only caught a glimpse
I should have known
It was a beautiful
Red wine soaked glimpse
I was other peoples' children
I could always be sent home
In front of someone else's
Blue screen4
For someone else's show

What's that you're saying to me
Tomato coated spaghetti?

It's gonna be OK

1 Alphabet Soup is a form of tinned spaghetti, made up of various random letters. It is usually given as a meal to children in order to (a) teach them or (b) get them to shut up. In 99% of cases, it's the latter.
2 Chris DeBurgh is the stage name of Christopher Davison (1948-), an Irish singer-songwriter, most famous for the 1986 dancefloor-filler (and 2010 dancefloor-emptier) 'Lady in Red'. Also wrote 'Don't Pay the Ferryman', which takes its title from Shakespeare's The Tempest. Now more famous for the fruit of his loins than actually writing any music.
3 Irish actress and revolutionary Maud Gonne (1866-1953), who was the paramour of William Butler Yeats, and the cause of much of his suffering. Although looking back at pictures now, you wonder what all the fuss was about. How two men could be after the same Jimmy Greaves jawed lady.
4 A blue screen is a technique used by television and film makers to make the actor(s), presenter(s), or weather forecaster appear to be in a different environment than they actually are. Often used by politicians to actually appear as if they visit their constituencies, when in fact they are sitting in the lounge of the Radisson in Dublin.


I went 'round to stand in your hall
To watch you descend
While your taxi slowed
Outside my home
For the last drive by
I went 'round for to fill your sail

What a way to wake
What a way to wake
We're cracking with the break of day

And God gave us guts
To have feelings, to spill1
But why would you let them show
When they look like this

What a way to wake
What a way to wake
We're cracking with the break of day

Break the day
Break the day
With your fire light
We'll break the day

1 Spilling your guts is a metaphor meaning to express one's feelings. The physical act of spilling one's guts, on the other hand, is more suited to an Eli Roth movie.


You left it, I sent it
I want it back
You left it, I sent it
I want it back

If I had you here, I'd clip your wings
Snap you up and leave you sprawling on my pin
This plan of mine is oh so very lame
Can't you see the grass is greener where it rains

You left, I died,
I went and you cried
You came, I think
But I never really know
I've served my time
I've watched you climb
The wrong incline
But what do I know

Accept it, Don't let it
Turn the screw
Accept it, And let it
Scream back at you

Now this applies both equally to you and I
The only thing we share
Is the same sky
These empty metaphors
They're all in vain
Like can't you see the grass is greener where it rains

In the garden Snake was a charmin'1
And Eve said let's give it a try
Now lead us not into temptation2
But no matter how hard I try
When in the garden and
Snake is a charmin'
And Eve says let's give it a try
Eve is the apple of my eye

And I lie behind you
And a cradle you in the palm of me
And I pat your hair down
I think will we sink or swim?
'Cause we could do either on a whim

1 The snake in the Garden of Eden who tricked Eve, the first woman, into eating the forbidden apple and thus condemning man to sin. (c.f. 'Snakes and Snakes', 'The Money', Milton's Paradise Lost)
2 A line from the popular Christian prayer 'Our Father' or 'The Lord's Prayer'. The temptation is a mirror of Eve's temptation in the garden. One of the first things children learn by heart (or by rote), like 'Ring a Ring a Rosie' and 'The Wheels on the Bus'.


It was part of our experiment
Went you said go and I went
like a gooseberry1 on Noah's Ark2

I watched them file in two by two3
And I set sail without you
And we were carried on the flood of your tears

Time pulls a face when I'm next to you
Let's hope the wind changes4
Time pulled a face when I'm next to you
Let's hope the wind changes

Now I'm looking for dry land
As all this crying subsides
But I'm like Columbus in India5

I'm a little all over the shop6
Like those souvenirs from Knock7
That come all the way from China8

Time pulls a face when I'm next to you
Let's hope the wind changes
Time pulled a face when I'm next to you
Let's hope the wind changes

'Cos we'd be stuck in this place
For an age or two
I hope the wind changes
And the vacuum in space will draw me to you
I hope the wind changes

I'm not over you, can I get back under

1 To "be a gooseberry" is an old English expression meaning being the odd one out. For example, the third person on a date, or the guy who just stands there staring while the rest of you are drinking and having a good time.
2 Noah's Ark was a gigantic sailing vessel built by Noah, on God's request, in order to save his family, as well as two of each animal, from an imminent flood. The story was recently used in the Godawful pseudo-comedy Evan Almighty starring Steve Carrell.
3 The lyrics of a nursery rhyme recounting Noah's Ark, which helps children learn about animals and counting.
4 An old expression used by lying parents to tell their children to stop making faces. They threatened them by telling the children that if the wind changed, their faces would be stuck like that forever. In recent years, studies carried out by scientists at University of California Los Angeles have proven that this is more than just a mere myth, and that it did in fact occur to RTÉ Television's Marty Morrissey during his formative years.
5 When navigator and explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) set out on his 1492 journey, his aim was to find a route west by sea to India. What he found was the continent of North and South America, which he believed to be India.
6 To be all over the shop it to be mixed up or "all over the place". Usually attributed to scatty people.
7 Knock is a town in County Mayo, which is significant as it is believed that the Virgin Mary, along with St. Joseph and John the Baptist, appeared in 1875. If a similar event happened today, the witnesses of such an event would either (a) be incarcerated in an institution or (b) be considered to be liars or drunks. They definitely would not be taken seriously. Knock was seen to be of so much importance that saviour of Ireland Taoiseach Charles J. Haughey approved the building of an airport there rather than in the region of Galway city. The airport, Ireland West Knock Airport is seen as the gateway of Connaught.
8 This refers to the "Made in China" stickers on the bottom of many products, not limited to alleged religious relics, or single-use breakable plastic toys.


She asked me to work on that knot
Now I've been at that
Coalface some time
I've been trying to untie that knot1
I'm trying to work it to a soft spot
And lie there a while
Just south of her shoulder
And west of her spine

Now you'd think that I could
Untie that knot
I'm the one who put it there in
The first place
But it's like trying to remember
Where you've buried treasure
Well I've a vague idea
But it was under the pale moon light
And I was south of her shoulder
And west of her spine

Sometimes early in the morning
I watch her breathing rise and fall
I've spilled in drunk beside her
In the stillness of dawn
See how her hair spills over
Like frayed ends of twine
All wild and wrapped around her
Like these wandering arms of mine
Well I hope they find a soft spot
Where I can lie for a while
Just south of her shoulder
And west of her spine

Now careful not to wake her
I trace back along the twine
To where her never endings sing
Of too much of my time

It's here I'll rest my chin
And breathe her deep and smile
For I think I've found a soft spot
and I'll lie here a while
It's here I'll raise my flag
And claim this land as mine
Just south of her shoulder
And west of her spine

1 This is a pun on the use of the word knot. The knot in her back is obviously not like a knot of rope or string, and thus can't be untied. Later her hair is compared to frayed twine. Extending the metaphor. Like how I tied that in there? Tied, gettit?


Out into pitch black
Where the moon lay upon its back
Driving deep into the throat
of the countryside

Strapped tight into
Centre of scene
Starry open attic night

No headline hits happen here
About what do I write
So sad the pull I feel
Is a push into out of sight

Hard not to look behind
when there's something
On your back
On your soul
On your mind
Let time pass by
Circles fly
Time can wet and roll a
Tear from the eye

Strapped tight into
Centre of scene
Starry open attic night

No headline hits happen here
About what do I write
So sad the pull I feel
is a push into out of sight

1 There are many hills in Boston, Massachusetts, and more still in Boston, New York. Therefore I can't tell you which hill this is at all. I'm no help really. Can't tell you much about the rest of the song either.


This one's for you
This one's for me
This one's for you
This one's for me
I've got a nervous feeling over you
But who am I fooling,
I like airline food1

I need to feel whole
I need to feel young again
I need to be bold
and start using my tongue again
They can laugh as they cry
They can cut till I bleed
But I ain't losing
'Cos this one's for me

1 Clearly he's lying here. Nobody likes airline food. By extension, this song must all be a lie. Just a clever ruse to get her into be, and "start using my tongue again."


I'll finish this jigsaw
I'll find the pieces behind the couch
I dream we were slowdancing
I dream I knew your name
Between sleep and waking we're drinking flavoured vodka in bed
And when I wake I'm all the King's horses and all King's men1

I make wild laughing rivers
from streams
Above white water noise2
no-one can hear my screams

I threw my eyes to heaven
and I asked for a sign
They said I can get back my yesterday
if I cross the date line3
But I'm sick of all this hope
Sometimes the stars are not enough
I'm sick of all this hope
Sometimes the stars are too much

I make wild laughing rivers
from streams
Above white water noise
no-one can hear my screams

Quiet please

1 Line from the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, first published in 1810. Humpty Dumpty was a shell-based character (c.f. #!/bin/sh ), who fell from a wall and smashed to pieces. However hard they tried, "all the king's horses and all the king's men" could not put him back together again. That's what you get when you anthropomorphise eggs. Should've went with ones of the faberge type.
2 White Noise is a noise which comes at a centre frequency, and produces a type of hissing sound. There is also Brown, Grey, and Pink Noise. Although I have never knowingly heard any of these. Brown Noise may have led to random movements, but as of yet, I have no proof.
3 This is the idea that if one goes anti-clockwise around the earth they can gain back time retrospective of GMT/BST. In the 1978 movie Superman, this is attempted by the title character, who flies backwards around the earth faster than the speed of the light. Note: before attempting this, make sure you know all the results of the day's sporting events or lottery draws. The Gray's Sporting Almanac 1950-2000 is a popular choice.


My book has more bookmarks than pages
'Cos it take me ages
Or is everybody reading
Is everybody reading

Standing on a black Ulster hill1
I never fear the chill
'Cos everybody's holding
Everybody's holding

I wouldn't swap the pain
For never knowing you
I wouldn't swap the pain
It was worth it for the view

My book has more bookmarks than pages
'Cos it take me ages
Or is everybody reading
Is everybody reading

Of a sparkling Medusa2
With snakes of cerise and blue
And though we're all pillars of salt now3
it was worth is for the view

I wouldn't swap the pain
For never knowing you
I wouldn't swap the pain
'Cos it was worth it for the view

We're still watching
Your rainbow through the shower
And we still see you
In every sunflower
We're still watching
I make days from the hours
And I still see you
In every sunflower
Every screaming sunflower

And how they scream of you

1 This could allude to the hills around Belfast, one specifically called Cave Hill or Black Mountain.
2 A Greek Gorgon, who could turn men to stone if they gazed directly into her eyes. She was said to have hair made from snakes of Cerise. Cerise is a colour and not the lead singer of Catatonia. Modern Medusas include Joan Rivers, Mary McEvoy, and Mary Harney.
3 In the Book of Genesis in the Bible, Lot's family is ordered from the city of Sodom, and warned not to look behind them. However, Lot's wife looks back upon the city and is turned into a pillar of salt. The next time you're eating a Burger King, please remember that the salad and chips is not a vegetarian option.


What's with the angel
and what's with the devil
They keep swapping shoulders
and I can't tell which from which
"Will you be my Kriskindle?1
Will you be my better nature?"
says one to the other
But I think they're only showing off

I caught them play poker
and I think it was the devil2 who said
"I'll see your heart
and I'll raise you mine"

Yea, they keep swapping shoulders
I think there's something going on
"Will you be my sweet pea?
Will you be the card up my sleeve?"
says one to the other
and this time they hold their gaze
for too long

Now they're playing poker
and this time it's the angel who says
"I'll see your heart
and I'll raise you mine"

This is the story of the angel
who played poker with the devil
in the Garden of Eden3
before it all went pear shaped

They said
"I'll see your heart
and I'll raise you mine"

1 Kris kindle is another name for the Christmastime gift giving practice Secret Santa. Each member of the group is assigned one other member at random to give a gift to. There is usually a spending cap placed on gifts. It is often practiced in workplaces where the employees are too tight, and too lazy, to actually think about the presents they buy - it usually results in many unused and opened novelty gifts and mugs.
2 In the 1957 Swedish movie The Seventh Seal, Max von Sydow's character has to play a game of chess with Death in order to escape dying. This was used again in the 1991 sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, where the characters play Battleship, Cluedo, and Twister against Death. Here the narrator sees a game of poker take place between an angel and the devil. This was never going to work out though, surely the angel isn't allowed to bluff.
3 cf. every other Bell x1 song. This is just lazy Paul Noonan, lazy.

Live: The Minutes at the Academy

Dublin rock trio the Minutes have announced a single launch party to end their Irish tour. They'll be playing a few dates in Dublin, as well as in Cork, Waterford, and Belfast, before returning to Dublin to play the Academy on the 13th of May. Tickets for the Academy gig are €10, and go on sale tomorrow.

The new single is called 'Secret History', and will be released May 14th. Their ten song album, Marcata, is due this summer, so this should be a nice teaser for it. Stream the tune below.

Upcoming tour dates:
April 23rd - The Button Factory , Dublin 8.30pm
April 24th - Psycho Fest @ Twisted pepper , Dublin 11.00pm
5th May - Skinny Love Club @ Auntie Annies , Belfast 8.30pm
6th May - Crane Lane Theatre , Cork MIDNIGHT
7th May - Electric Ave , Waterford 9.00pm
13th May - 'SECRET HISTORY' Launch @ Academy 2 , Dublin 8.00pm

Stream 'Secret History':

More info:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Live: Codes at the Academy

Dublin band CODES have announced a matinee all-ages gig at the Academy this summer to cater to their younger fans. The press-release calls it an "intimate all-ages gig", which I think may have been a little bit of an oversight. Still though, the concert on June 26th should be a great gig for all involved.

Tickets are a bargain at €10 and go on sale this Friday.

Watch 'This is Goodbye' at the Forum, Waterford:

The Annotated Bell x1 - Part One: Neither Am I

Bell x1 - Neither Am I cover

The first of a series. Part One Neither Am I is much less extensive than later editions, especially Music in Mouth. Although God knows when I'll get around to them. Please make note of any omissions in the comments section.


Tear that trickles from your eye to your ear
Like a pinball machine
Arm that melts over me
Like Salvador's1 dream
Light that spits across the ceiling
'Cos someone burst the stitches on the curtain of night

Maybe it's all about sowing my seed2
But subject to conditions and not while you bleed3

I follow you at a distance
Bounced through others eyes
Like a pinball machine
Dressed as Mr. Walker4
But in disguise
I could have been a contender5
But instead I'm content with
The gin and tonic6 dressing gown I lament
One night only
The great and the glory
Let's see if it sticks

You still love me
I believe
If push came you'd shove me
I believe you share my bed
You share the blame
I believe
In pinball machines

1 Spanish surrealist painter and artist Salvador Dali (1904-1989), whose best known painting 'The Persistance of Memory' from 1931, features dripping, or melting clocks - tying in with the preceeding line "arm that melts over me".
2 Fertilization or human reproduction.
3 The act of reproduction depends on both her humour, as well as her menstrual cycle.
4 American singer Scott Walker (1943-), former member of the Walker Brothers, and now solo artist.
5 Quote from the multiple Academy Award winning 1954 film On the Waterfront, about an ex-boxer who stands up to his union bosses, featuring Marlon Brando in the lead role as Terry.
6 A diluted alcoholic drink, usually associated with the elderly.


He's for the sailboat
He's for the sea
He's for Betty Ford1
He's for anarchy
He'll die for his country
He'll stick a flag in your soul
He'll jump on your sandcastle
He'll drown in your moat
He's for the money
And he just wants to sleep with me
He's for the money
He just wants to sleep with me

She tries too hard
She doesn't try at all
She'll push you over
She'll break your fall
She puts it out
She reels it in
She makes immaculate love2
She makes original sin3
She's for the money
She just wants to sleep with me
She's for the money
And she just wants to sleep with me

She's missing the notes but she hears the strain
She knows she's been strung
But she looks for change

He's for the birds
He's for all living things
I'm lost for words
I don't believe in things
I'm for the money
I just want to sleep with me
I'm for the money
I just want to sleep with me

1 Betty Ford (1918-) Wife of thirty-eight US President Gerald Ford, and co-founder of the Betty Ford drug rehabilitation center.
2 According to the Bible, Jesus (c. 5 BC-30 AD), the son of God was conceived immaculately (without intercourse) by Mary.
3 The original sin was the eating of the apple by Eve in the Garden of Eden (cf. 'Eve, the Apple of My Eye'), resulting in the Fall of Man.


Don't hold yourself like that
You'll hurt your knees
I kissed your mouth and back
Is that all you need
Don't build your world around
Volcanoes melt you down

What I am to you
Is not real
What I am to you
You do not need
What I am to you
Is not what you mean to me
You give me miles and miles of mountains
And I'll ask for the sea1

Don't throw yourself like that
In front of me
I kissed your mouth and back
That's all I need
Don't drag my love around
Volcanoes melt you down

What I am to you
Is not real
What I am to you
You do not need
What I am to you
Is not what you mean to me
You give me miles and miles of mountains
And I'll ask for the sea

What I give to you
is what I'm going through
This is nothing new
Just another phase of finding
What I really need
Is what makes me bleed
Like a new disease
She's still to young to bleed

Not a song with many (if any) references. It's a straightforward tale of lost love.
1 Not a direct reference, but rather the implication that she does not give him what he wants, but instead gives him something totally different.


She's like a stellar
She's got a fella
She knows Italian too
She just started driving you

I know the man on Mir
I'd love to see what he can see
The black and grey that share his sleep
Alone, alone
Butterfly in cocoon2

I've lost my way
I want my way
To see the green and white and blue
See the Great Wall
See me and you

I feel I know the man on Mir
I'd love to see what he can see
The black and grey that share his sleep
Alone, alone
Butterfly in cocoon

1 The Soviet (later Russian) Mir (1986-2001) was the world's first consistently manned space station. It was in orbit around the earth from February 19, 1986, and was occupied by cosmonauts and astronauts until August 1999.
2 This should actually be chrysalis, the pupal stage of butterflies. A cocoon is the pupal stage of moths. Here it is used to signify a sense of being tapped, as in the 100-tonne space station Mir.


So I asked her to dance
She said she wasn't able
And all her friends laughed
She was just trying to be gentle
And so we danced
Round and round in circles
Not of that lovesong
But our very own circles

Slowset is dead
No more love on the dancefloor
Unless you're out of your head
That's all that we went for

So she asked me to dance
I did but I wasn't able
Oh where to put your hands
When there's so much food on the table2

Slowset is dead
No more love on the dancefloor
Unless you're out of your head
That's all that we went for

What do you say
When she's in your arms and you're going round in those circles
When both of you know that you've risen to the occasion
When her friend comes along and you know that she's been rescued3
When your eternal flame4 has been drowned by her
Purple rain5

Slowset is dead
No more love on the dancefloor
Unless you're out of your head
That's all that we went for
That's all

1 A song specifically chosen at a dance or disco for couples who wish to dance together in close proximity. Usually followed by the awkward proposition "will you shift my mate?"
2 The food on the table here is her womanly figure, of which he doesn't know what parts to touch, and especially what he's permitted to touch.
3 A common occurrence at dances or discos, where the disapproving friend will interrupt the proceedings in order to "save" her friend from making any of a multitude of wrong decisions.
4 An eternal flame is a torch which burns for an indefinite period. ' Eternal Flame' was a 1989 hit pop song for the Bangles, which has been covered by many artists, most notably Atomic Kitten in 2001.
5 'Purple Rain' was a 1984 film starring the musician Prince, with an accompanying soundtrack and pop song of the same name.


Everybody finished their honey tipped cigar
Our after dinner speaker tonight is God
A warm round of applause
And then silence

Tell us of love, we said
Tell us of love
Great one above
Won't ya tell us of love

And he said, well
I've never tasted your flavour before
So maybe love is your whore
Maybe just a figment of emotion

Hear my
Hear my song
What if I'm
What if I'm wrong
Hear my
Hear my song
I'm always right
But what if I'm wrong

The crowd went wild
Man, woman and child
Fuelled by brandy and cherry wine
And the apple in the mouth of the head of John the Baptist1
Tell us of hate, we said
Tell us of hate
Don't spare the bait2
Won't ya tell us of hate
And he said, well
I've never tasted your flavour before
So maybe hate is your whore
But I remember when we were lovers

Hear my
Hear my song
What if I'm
What if I'm wrong
Hear my
Hear my song
I'm always right
But what if I'm wrong
What if I'm wrong

1 John the Baptist (c. 6 BC-36 AD) was a preacher, who is said to have baptised Jesus, the son of God, in the River Jordan. He was imprisoned and beheaded following his marriage to the ex-wife of Herod II.
2 The bait used to catch prey, such as a fish on a fishing rod. Here it is taken to mean "tell us the entire story, without leaving anything out."


In the womb
Back in playschool
In the yard
Where it first got hard
Button Moon2
On a Tuesday at noon
Bagpuss3 gave me the fear
But as if by magic she appeared

Through rose coloured glasses
I fall
Fall foul of the masses

In Valderrama4
Twenty-something blues
What on earth will I do
I reach for the stars
And wherever you go
There you are

Through rose coloured glasses
I fall
Fall foul of the masses
I know
You're the one to save me
And I hope
You'll be my blue rinse baby

1 A blue rinse is a form of hair dye used by older women to hide the onset of grey hair.
2 Button Moon was a British children's television programme running from 1980 to 1988. It followed the adventures of Mister Spoon, who travelled to Button Moon in his rocket ship. Each of the characters on Button Moon consisted of kitchen utensils, such as knives and forks.
3 Bagpuss was a British children's television program, aired in 1974. It was a stop motion animation series, where the titular character (a scruffy cat) would wake up once the humans had left the shop where he lived.
4 Valderrama is an area in the Philippines, with a population of over 17,000.


You haven't changed at all
Not much does in a frame on a wall1
The paper's tarred and brown
If I hold you too close, you blur
Fearing it will fade away in darkness

So throw it overboard
And the next time we hit shore
I will stay behind
But she's washed up on the shore
Her salty spit her pours so pure
Leaves me choking on the sand
And her waves come in again
And she takes my hand

Gotta hold myself away
By blocking out the light of day
I can't hold you the way that I used to.
A picture you truly are
All legs and suicide
And where there's no room for lies
She lies across the breeze
Calling to me
Calling to me

1 Here it emerges that the narrator is addressing either a photograph or a painting of someone.


Give me an opinion
'Cos I don't have one
I'll agree with you if you're right
I always know where you're coming from
But I've never been there
I have to steal from you when you write

Your beautiful madness
My beautiful grief
Your dreams are my torture
Your dreams my relief

I'll give you an opinion
'Cos I just found one
You won't agree with me out of spite
I lay siege to your fortress
But you'll never give in
No, you'll just change your mind

Your beautiful madness
My beautiful grief
Your dreams are my torture
Your dreams my relief

You're mad to burn, mad to fly, mad to be saved
I stumble through the darkness looking for the day
Fabulous yellow roman candles1 explodes like spiders across the sky
And in the sparkling of the day we all go.

Mad to burn, mad to cry, mad to run and mad to fly, you're mad to burn and mad to die, mad to stay away, you're mad to run and mad to die, you're mad to run away, you're mad to fake and mad to cry get the fuck away, from me.2

1 A Roman Candle is a type of firework, which explodes into many parts, like "spiders across the sky".
2 This song is heavily inspired by the following passage of beat novelist Jack Kerouac's 1957 opus On the Road:
"...because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..."


How I know
Go bow end send mend bend pretend
Shut your face again
Bleed seed need read breath on my knees
How I choose to breath
Lie cry learn grow slow false start
How I build my wall
Hate wait bait kiss or taste the place
And make weather in my face

How I choose bruise loose win sin bin tease please
Better have her on her knees
Play pray say rock feel kneel dream
How I choose to scream
Shout wake sleep need to touch her deep
Fate wait weight kiss or taste the place
And make weather in my face

I wanna be the only one that you know
Happily your placebo
I wanna be the only one that you know
Cos I adore you
I wanna be the only one that you know
Don't believe your placebo
I wanna be the only one that you know
Cos I adore you

This is filled with nonsense lyrics chosen especially to rhyme with each other. A deeper meaning? You tell me...


There's another kind of red under the bed
We've all been branded
Barcode1 on my head
We can all go beep as we checkout
Your flexible friend2 is but a spy
Your movements mapped
Your drinklink3 dries
I fail to see how this card is so smart

Little sister's been watching you
Little sister

So you want to walk the earth
You know she flies
She's mastered the art
Of truth and lies
To her you'll never be more than just a number

There's another kind of red under the bed
We've all been branded
We can all be read
Or is it all in my head
Kill the cowboy

Little sister's been watching you
Little sister

1 A barcode is a picture created using thick and thin black horizontal stripes, accompanied by a number which is used to identify products for sale. The barcode is scanned into a machine which then displays the correct price for the item at a shop's cash register or checkout.
2 A flexible friend is a term used for any sort of Credit Card, but was originally coined in an advert for Access Credit Cards.
3 A drinklink is an attempted comical term for an ATM or banklink, usually uttered by people who have consumed copious amounts of alcohol on a night of ribaldry.


I don't wanna shake you off
I love the way we fit
I can't resist one who dares
Nor ones who shares like that

And returning to your sea
Somewhere I can bathe my feet
But if the wounds are too deep
You may not have the want
To heal me

You dig it babe
You dig it in deep

The mould1 has been repressed
And with it all I've known
We have one up on each other
The same mistake

You dig it in babe
You dig it in babe

1 Here, a mould used to create something, such as a sculpture. This is tied in with the earlier line "I love the way we fit."

Stream: Band of Horses - Laredo

'Laredo' is one of twelve tracks featured on Band of Horses' upcoming album Infinite Arms. The album is due out this weekend next month (the 19th of May in the UK, and the 16th here), and looks set to be as good as anything they've done. To support the album, they'll also be briefly stopping off on our fair isle, supporting Snow Patrol in Belfast, as well as playing a headline show at the Academy in Dublin on June 4th. Have a listen to 'Laredo' below, and get excited for the new album. It's mere days away now.

1) Factory
2) Compliments
3) Laredo
4) Blue Beard
5) On My Way Back Home
6) Infinite Arms
7) Dilly
8) Evening Kitchen
9) Older
10) For Annabelle
11) NW Apt.
12) Neighbor

Stream 'Laredo':

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Live: Stevie Wonder at the O2

A few years back I was lucky enough to see James Brown at Oxegen. I was delighted to get the chance to see one of soul's legends live in concert. Then, the next year, he came back to the Main Stage and blew my socks off again (although I must say his Green Room performance the year before was better). Thus I'm delighted to hear that another legend will be returning to Ireland.

Stevie Wonder is set to play Dublin's O2 on June 24th. Amazingly the tickets aren't astronomically priced, with the most expensive seats costing €96.25 and standing at €65.70. Tickets for the show go on sale this Friday at 9 a.m.

Watch 'Superstition' live on Sesame Street:

Album News: Punch Brothers - Antifogmatic

Chris Thile (formerly of bluegrass sensations Nickel Creek) is back with another Punch Brothers album. Antifogmatic is due to be released in June, and will contain ten songs, three of which you can watch below. I'm really excited for this album, as I felt their debut Punch was only half a brilliant record. I saw them live at the Sugar Club after Punch's release, and they were a million times better on stage. Hopefully that can be bottled for this upcoming release.

Watch 'This is the Song':

Watch 'Alex':

Watch 'Rye Whiskey':

Live: Bray Jazz Festival 2010

I must admit that my knowledge of jazz isn't the best. I might throw on a Miles Davis or Bill Evans record now and then, and am partial to some Brad Mehldau, but apart from that I'm not really in the know when it comes to jazz. Thus I'm excited to be able to hear some new sounds at the 11th Annual Bray Jazz Festival, which takes place over the May Bank Holiday this year.

Bray Jazz Festival has more than just jazz though (it does have that - of the contemporary and improvised varieties especially), there's also world music, funk, electronic, and blues. Damn I love the blues. All About Jazz called the event "one of the very best small jazz festivals in Europe", and they are totally right.

This year there's set to be a tonne of artists from all around the globe - United States, Austria, Norway, Italy, Brazil, Senegal, Belgium, Argentina, Luxembourg and the UK.

More info/full lineup:

Watch: Drive-By Truckers - Get Downtown

The new Drive-By Truckers album The Big To-Do is my favourite record of the year so far. So forgive me if I have to keep reminding you how good it is. This is one of the best songs on there and was released as a lead-up to the album. The album is out now on ATO Records, and to show you just how good it is, the band stopped by Sirius XM to play this tune.

Watch Drive-By Truckers 'Get Downtown':

Monday, April 12, 2010

List: 50 Best Irish Acts Today - 10-01

Part Five, and the final part of my countdown of the Best 50 Irish Acts today. The only requirement for entry is that the artist must have played live or released something in the past twelve months.

Read the rest of the list:

10. Mick Flannery
'Tomorrow's Paper' from Corkonian Mick Flannery's second album 'White Lies' is about as good a singer-songwriter classic as you're likely to hear. In fact that whole album is utterly brilliant. A vast improvement on his debut Evening Train, he's an artist who keeps going from strength to strength. He tours endlessly around the country too, so be sure to catch him when and if you can.

9. Adrian Crowley
Winner of this year's Choice Music Prize, Adrian Crowley is finally getting the adoration he deserves. His first album came out way back in 1999, but it seems like the 2010s will be his decade. My own favourite artist Ryan Adams loves him, and if that's not praise, he's due to appear high up on the bill at Electric Picnic 2010 as one of Ireland's biggest names.

8. The Swell Season/The Frames/Glen Hansard
These are all lumped in together as they're whatever Glen Hansard decides to do after polishing his Oscar when he wakes up in the morning. He's focused mainly on the Swell Season in the past few years, but with the Frames still gigging (and also set to play this year's Electric Picnic), there would be no better time than 2010 for some new material from Ireland's greatest rock band. Until that happens, however, we still have Glen and Marketa churning out gorgeous duets, as well as reissues of the Frames' breakout albums to keep us going.

7. The Holy Roman Army
Fellow Carlovians, the Holy Roman Army appeared on the scene last year with their amazing electronic record How the Light Gets In. Their song 'Stagger Gently Home' was a captivating track, and after appearing on Nialler9's MAP gained attention all over the world. They are similarly amazing live, and have really honed their live act since I first saw them early last year. They've also followed up that debut album with a fantastic covers EP, Desecrations, which can be downloaded for free here.

6. Oliver 'Ollie' Cole
Ollie Cole is best known for being the frontman in Irish pop-rockers Turn. They made some incredible albums during their time together, with Forward being the standout. However, on his own, Cole is proving to be even better. He released his debut solo album We Albatri last month, and is one of the country's most charming live performers.

5. The Chapters
The Chapters are a bunch of the most down-to-earth musicians in Irish music. After a rocky start with label bankruptcy and the like, the band finally signed with 3ú, who unleashed 'Videotapes' on the world last summer. Since then, the band has been engulfed in success, releasing the fantastic debut album Perfect Stranger, and going on to appear on radio on TV both here and across the pond. They're set to be one of the biggest draws at this year's Indie-pendence on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

4. The Divine Comedy/The Duckworth Lewis Method/Neil Hannon
Like the Frames and the Swell Season for Glen Hansard, these two bands are Neil Hannon's babies. In 2009, Hannon joined forces with Pugwash's Thomas Walsh to record the greatest ever Irish concept album - about a fundamentally British game. It was one of the year's most captivating and charming albums, featuring the utterly brilliant 'Jiggery Pokery'. 2010 sees Hannon back in his old work clothes, with the Divine Comedy due to release their tenth album Bang Goes the Knighthood on May 31st.

3. James Vincent McMorrow
In my review of James Vincent McMorrow's recent debut album Early in the Morning, I called it "the best album to come out of Ireland in a decade". Yes, it's that damn good. The songs from it have been used in an advert for Barnardos as well as on hit US television shows Grey's Anatomy and One Tree Hill. However, this is only the start for McMorrow, who will definitely be the breakout Irish star of 2010.

2. Bell x1
Bell x1 are my favourite live band. Any chance I can get to see them, I take it. Paul Noonan is a fantastic entertainer, and the band are always on form together. The public knows this too, and they easily could have played 365 days at the Olympia or Vicar Street last year. They've come a long way since the days of Juniper, and release wonderful singles as well as enchanting albums. They've also gained a huge following in the US, where they've appeared on primetime television shows - including many great live performances.

1. Fight Like Apes
A bizarre bunch of folks, fronted by the brilliant vocalist MayKay, Fight Like Apes released one of the most-anticipated Irish albums of the 00s, And the Mystery of the Golden Medallion to much fanfare in 2008. It was every bit as good as expected, and was released worldwide last year. Their live show is even better, playing festivals all over Europe last summer, including a standout performance at Glastonbury. They represented Ireland at the Eurosonic Festival last January, which has just been released as the free album Live at Eurosonic. Download that fantastic set here. Ireland's greatest act right now.

Album News: The New Breed compilation

EMI - The New Breed

I got an email about this album the other day, and since I wasn't blogging at the time, I marked it as unread in order to come back to it. I should've came back before now, but you saw the weather over the weekend - we don't get that in Ireland too often. But what we do have in Ireland is some fantastic acts (you might have seen some in my countdown). Thus EMI has prepared a compilation album of some of the best, which will be released this Friday, April 16th, for Record Store Day. There's loads of acts that didn't make the cut on my list, so there's so much more to check out here (perhaps next year I'll do a top 100!)

EDIT: News has just dropped in my inbox that this album has been delayed. I'll post the new release date as soon as I have it.