Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Ah, and now it's time for the top 5. Hold on to your pants...

#5 Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop/ Bella Union)
I suppose the big success story of the year. A bunch of long haired hippies really with harmonies a go-go, the prolific so-and-sos even managed to get a pretty deadly EP out this year, in the shape of Sun Giant.

#4 Department Of Eagles: In Ear Park (4AD)
A couple of years ago, Grizzly Bear wowed us. This time around, Team GB (Olympics flashback) give us Daniel Rossen's "other project" with college mate Fred Nicolaus. Onto the same lineage as Grizzly Bear, but perhaps less experimental, "In Ear Park" is still an artefact of beauty.

#3 Throw Me The Statue: Moonbeams (Secretly Canadian)
This one came out of nowhere for me, and bypassed a heck of a lot of people. In fact, if it were not for my friend Ronan recommending it, it probably would have bypassed me. Some of the reviews weren't so great, but to use that old adage, it really is a grower. Over the course of the past year, this was a record that I repeatedly dug out, with something new popping out each time allowing it to sparkle in a wave of lo-fi indie records.

#2 Why?: Alopecia (Anticon)
Yoni Wolf and co do it again. Some people find the whole Anticon-thing a bit grating but not me, and this sounds far removed from the early days of Anticon. What can I say about this record? Every track is a winner, it's probably their best yet, it feels more like a band record, the lyrics go from cheesey to humorous or both simultaneously, you are worried that the lad isn't completely right, and you take a vested interest in the album, replaying it to discover various trinkets each time. Superb.

#1 Deerhunter: Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. (4AD/Kranky)
If I had done this list last year, there was a very good chance that Deerhunter would have been very near the top, but these days, to pull that off two years running (and also fit in an EP and the Atlas Sound album - #16) is some accomplishment. I fell in love with Cryptograms last year, and didn't expect them to top it. I was actually sort of worried. Microcastle (and it's companion CD Weird Era Cont.) are surprisingly a little less complex than previous Deerhunter records, but that's no bad thing. Actually, it's a fucking great thing.

Albums Of The Year: 14-6

#14 Adebisi Shank: This Is The Album Of A Band... (The Richter Collective)
Sadly, the sole Irish representative out of the 25. This Wexford/Dublin hybrid glued together a frenzied 23 minutes that took the tediousness out of instrumental guitar music. Half sounding like it was slapped together in studio, the dexterity of the threesome is awesome. Cheeky bastards.

#13 The Dodos: Visiter (Wichita)
Another surprise this year. Two piece based on acoustic guitar and drums make a series of catchy folk-pop tunes. A couple of filler tracks stopped this one making the top 10.

# 12 No Kids: Come Into My House (Tomlab)
Three-quarters of Canadian band P:ano return as No Kids, and ditch the ukuleles and discover R&B. No seriously...come back. 'For Halloween' was one of my favourite tracks this year, and as a whole, Come Into My House is a fairly refreshing affair.

#11 Subtle: Exiting Arm (Lex)
Crazy anticon-offshoot featuring the twisted genius that is Doseone returned with their follow up to 2006's blinding 'For Hero: For Fool'. This one way not have had all the same pop charms as that one, but again it blended the kitchen sink with indie hop.

#10 Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago (4AD)
Tip #1,723 in how to make a good album: Dylan used this one years ago, but split up with your missus, and pretty much write the album about it. Justin Vernon decamped to the woods and did just that, and even the Emma in question seems to be ok with it, and he has probably made it up for her departure with a bevy of top groupies while touring this album to the max. Word.

# 9 Portishead: Third (Island)
Band releases first album in eleven years and it's not shit shocker. Actually, it's really fucking good, and is not a re-hash of their old guff. In fact, it's the best thing since their debut 14 years ago. Back of the net.

#8 TV On The Radio: Dear, Science (4AD)
The boys can do no wrong. Dave Sitek is gradually maturing into one of the finest producers out there, and TVOTR's third long-player seems more cohesive than 'Return To Cookie Mountain'. Even one or two silly rap moments and a ballad can't dent that.

#7 Beach House: Devotion (Bella Union)
Truly beautiful lovelorn rock awash with the slightest influences of Mazzy Star, Spiritualized, etc and then topped off with Victoria Legrand's delicate yet eerie vocal. Smashing stuff

#6 M83: Saturdays = Youth (EMI)
Anthony Gonzalez has always known his way around a tune, yet after three albums, he had yet to really nail the art of making an album that was totally consistent. This time around, he has got it right. Whereas before, you were waiting for the "filler" to wind down so the "hits" could kick in, with 'Saturdays = Youth' everything from the dreamy ballads to the uptempo 80s-tinged rockers, everything works a treat.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Circa Now Albums Of '08: 25-15

Alriiiiiight. Here we go.

First up, I've whittled this down to 25. A few acts that got close but not close enough included Juana Molina, Gang Gang Dance, Cadence Weapon, The Notwist, Thank You, High Places, Dosh, These Arms Are Snakes, and I'm currently listening to the Women record which is fantastic (I'm not 100% sure if it is actually released this year or not though so maybe the '09 poll instead) Bands like No Age have passed me by a little bit, and there are other things I'm looking forward to hearing, such as the new Marnie Stern record which would have made the list probably if it arrived on time.

Anyway, here's the list.

#25 Fuck Buttons: Street Horrsing (ATP)
To be honest, I didn't think I was going to like this record. I really, really thought it was just gonna be a bunch of noisey chancers. You know what? It sort of sounds like that, but when "Bright Tomorrow" kicks in, all is forgiven for this dumbly monikered Bristol duo.

#24 Neon Neon: Stainless Style (Lex)
Boom Bip and yer man from Super Furry Animals making an electro-pop concept album about John Delorean? Yer having a laugh? Er no? And it's not shit? Actually, it's quite, quite decent.

#23 Flying Lotus: Los Angeles (Warp)

Undoubtedly, The hipster's record of choice from '08. A crazy and heady blend of skewered hip hop beats wrapped in electronic cotton, Steven Ellison was also responsible for the year's most disturbing music video for the ace 'Parisian Goldfish'

#22 Sigur Rós: Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (EMI)
At this stage with Sigur Rós, people can either take 'em or leave them. In fact, I know a heck of a lot of people who find them to be the most incredibly boring band on the planet. On the other hand, I've always liked them. This record sprung up quickly and while it trails of in to familiar SR-territory, there are a couple of nice surprises, especially chirpy lead single Gobbledigook.

#21 My Morning Jacket: Evil Urges (ATO Records)
Not quite business as usual as Jim James and co slip further away from the straight-up rockers of their early days. Southern rock with a massive dash of funk is not supposed to sound this good.

#20 El Guincho: Alegranza (Young Turks)
This was a very late entry into the top 25. Deadly stuff from the Barca-based Pablo Díaz-Reixa. Like the Animal Collective mixing up tropicalia, Afrobeat, and weird indie. Completely bonkers, but nevertheless a total winner.

#19 Stereolab: Chemical Chords (4AD)
Two decades of consistency remains intact with their ninth studio album. It's typical fare from the 'lab with more than a nod in the direction of Motown this time out.

#18 Jay Reatard: Matador Singles '08 (Matador)
More a collection of singles than an actual straight up album, there is still a very palpable feeling that 2009 could very well be Jay Reatard's year: simple ideas - sticking The Stones, Ramones and Dino Jr in a blender, with super conviction made this one of my real surprise likes of the year (I saw him live a couple of years ago and was pretty unimpressed)

#17 Peter Broderick: Home (Bella Union)
Here's the story - Portland young lad sends a myspace message or two to Efterklang. All goes swimmingly well. They invite him over to Denmark. He plays the fiddle (or violin if you wanna be posh) for them. Then he makes a solo album. Efterklang folks help out. It's a really lovely folk album. That's it.

#16 Atlas Sound: Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel (Kranky)
The solo project for Deerhunter head honcho Bradford Cox is small bit of a departure from his dayjob. Sure, the breathy vocals and loops are there, but Atlas Sound veers more towards the ambient side of things. It's also simultaneously sad and claustrophobic as the subject matter more often than not tends to be Cox's hospital stay as a teen due to his suffering with marfan syndrome.

#15 Cass McCombs: Dropping The Writ (Domino)
This one sneaks in as it got a Europe release in early January. Really gorgeous songwriting from Cass, and this one seems to have stepped up in production values from earlier releases, with some wonderful guitar lines and harmonies splattered throughout.

14-1 to follow in the days to come...ooooh, the suspense!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Stephen's Night sees two of Limerick's finest acronyms play in Dolan's, but in seperate rooms. WSBD - or We Should Be Dead to their Mams, play the Warehouse in what is surely their biggest hometown headliner to date. It will also be their last for some time sadly, as the four-piece have got their visas and are hitting the USA (LA to be exact) in the New Year, where they'll be for the next year (or perhaps even longer if all goes to plan?) Doors are 8pm, and admission is €10

Also at the same time and the same price, BPLO - Brad Pitt Light Orchestra will perform in the surroundings of the Upstairs rooms at the Alphonsus St/Dock Road venue. BPLO have just recently done a session on the Paul McLoone show on Today Fm. That 'December' tune is pretty damn catchy - they could yet be the Limerick Camera Obscura (that folks is a very good thing in my book)

Finally, RBs - actually nobody has ever called them that; I was just going for consistency. Anyway, Limerick's premier hiphop/comedy crossover act Rubberbandits play only their second ever gig in Trinity Rooms on December 28. Taking the piss outta a load of shams is pretty easy work, and can sound pretty tired and lame, but I gotta say I've enjoyed the 'bandits tunes. Also, add in that the production is fairly nifty too. High fives. Check out this review over at Cheebah from their last gig. Beware: set may only contain one tune.

Here's a vid for Bag Of Glue, a sure-fire hit already. Have a good festive season and I'll drop back next week with albums of the year (think the list is gonna be about 30)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

End of year stuff...Need your help

To paraphrase a former Limerick band, everyone else is doing it so why can't I? Before the end of the year, I'll lash up my favourite albums of '08, more for my own merriment, and also, so that I can look back in anguish when reviewing said list 12 months later, as so usually happens.

In the meantime, it's over to you. Favourite albums, Limerick gigs, outside Limerick gigs, Limerick bands, moments, plays, comedians, blah blah blah.

It may also help me to remember more of the year. Pop 'em in the comments below if you'd like.

Cheers, Ciarán

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nu Killa Xmas Shenanigans

Limerick's premier drum n'bass crew - ok, Limerick's only drum & bass crew Nu Killa Beats have their Christmas bash this Friday night, Underground at Baker Place.

The night will be tinged with a wee bit of sadness, as it sees the departure of one of the crew's djs Cain, who is absconding to Spain in the New Year....lucky so-and-so. Cain (pictured, in case you wanna give him a going away drink) has been with them for eight years, so I'm sure the combination of Christmas partying and this departure will make for hardly a dry eye in the house. Yup, them drum & bass heads are really a big bunch of softies.

Also on the line up is Code (Subtle Audio/Spin South West), and doors are 11pm, with the always reasonable door-tax set at a festive friendly five bucks before 11.30 (seven after that)

On a complete sidenote, Conor (Code) from NKB/Subtle Audio has always come across as a bit of a top bloke on the phone/mails, and after a few years of such correspondence, I recently had a fleeting face-to-face encounter with the chap, who was just as pleasant in real-life. So props to Conor, particularly for the fact that he has been at the helm of this for NINE years now. Happy Birthday in January guys.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tis The Season For Tribute Bands & Panto...or is it?

Alright, back from the edge... Have soaked up a number of episodes of The Wire, read a number of football biographies, and am almost ready to head back to the work. No better time to take a look at the Christmas listings then, eh?

First up, I've always thought this time of year is synonymous with absolute rubbish when it came to the live front, even more crap than the xmas telly schedules.

Nevertheless, there are a nice few bits n' pieces happening over the festive season. First up, at Dolan's, a number of juicy shows are on the horizon. I've never been totally convinced by Cathy Davey. Her debut album Tales Of Silversleeve was much-fawned over by scribes and the public alike, but bar a few very nifty numbers, I found it a little underwhelming. I've yet to see her live, but have heard she has packs a bigger live punch than expected. You can find out Wednesday night at Dolan's.

The following night, at the same venue, Live 95fm's Alan Jacques will be bringing his Green & Live Sessions to the Warehouse for a Christmas hoedown. Black Daisy, Walter Mitty & The Realists and Supermodel Twins are amongst those involved, with giveamanakick djing afterwards, and it is all for free. Nice one Alan.

Speaking of giveamanakick, since 2004, they have made it a Christmas tradition to play a hometown gig, starting in the High Stool, then a few years Upstairs in Dolan's, and now for the second year in a row at Baker Place. All kinds of mayhem is promised, including raffles, cover versions (anyone remember giveamanakaraoke from a few years back) and some solid slabs of rock like this:

That takes us up to this weekend. Over next week there is a nice seasonal emphasis on some of Limerick's finest, with shows from Sea Dog (Bakers, December 22nd), Mark O'Connor (Baker's, December 23rd), We Should Be Dead's farewell show (Warehouse, Stephen's night), Brad Pitt Light Orchestra (Upstairs, same night), and the much-anticipated second appearance of The Rubberbandits (Trinity Rooms, December 28th)

More on all of them to come, but plenty of options on the horizon to shake off any icicles... Oh, and Franz Ferdinand sold out in double-quick time. Nice coup for Dolan's to get 'em, even if I think they sound like a pair of dried up old socks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

no updates this week

hey, regular readers and internet voyeurs...

no updates this week; I had a trip to the hospital in the wee hours of Monday morning, and my doc said "no blogging allowed while you recover"

peace out, Ciarán

Friday, December 5, 2008

Weekend Round Up

Quite a few things happening 'round Limerick this weekend...

First up, the paltry sum of €6 (hey, aren't these the times not to be spending huge amounts of dosh) will get you a long dip in the Irish hip-hop pool tonight, with The Hideous Penguin doing a live turntablist scratch set, and getting some help from Alphabet Set's T-Woc and Kerrynini djs. Disappointed I'll be missing this, but am looking for reports back on how they work out with Pery's Hotel as a venue...It could be start of something very promising...

Jimmy The Hideous Penguin is part of Vince Mack Mahon...here's that quartet in action

[Crude] mag (declaration of some interest here), launches tomorrow night at Baker Place. Should be an interesting night, and in this times when print media seems to be in trouble, let's hope it survives and prospers. Anyway, the launch gig (also, a nice €6 in) will feature Sea Dog, The Handless Organists and Two DJS Vs One Drummer (that one does what it says on the tin). Look out for the excellent album reviews section...cough...cough...

Finally, Sunday sees the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble in town. Cheebah have the skinny on that over here, and here's some blurb on them:
Some facts about: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

1. They are Mos Def's Live band.
2. Sampled by Jay Z and he is a huge fan, they toured with him in 2008 so is Kanye
3. Worked this year with Erykah Badu & Maxwell
4. Are the new Gorrilaz live band and are featured throughout this
forthcoming release with Damon Alburn, scheduled for a 2009 release!
5. Their last 5 Irish shows have been sell outs and this first Limerick show will be the same !
6. They will be appearing on the streets of Limerick for an exclusive free show on Sunday Afternoon!

One of the hottest soul acts in the world has just announced an exclusive date for Limerick, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble play the Soul Xmas party at Trinity Rooms on Sunday December 7th, fresh off a world wide tour with Jay Z and being talked up by everyone from Al Green to the New York Times, this is a very special show and early booking is advised.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is a eight man brass ensemble from Chicago, of which 7 are the sons of Sun Ra Arkestra trumpeter Kelan Phil Cohran, the 8th member of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble might not be connected by blood but is definitely part of the family. The creation of Hypnotic in 1999 represented the sons return to their instruments after a time of quitting music in their teenage rebellion years.

The ensemble is four trumpeters, two trombonists, a drummer and a sousaphone player:
This is the real deal folks - music the way it was ment to be. From the heart, from the lungs. These guys don't need to plug in to be heard. As they say themeselves, they could play on a boat in the dark - they're powered from within.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ireland On Screen

Starting this Friday, Irish filmmakers of varying experience will showcase their work at the Belltable as part of Ireland On Screen.

The first film to be shown will be Lettuce And Peppers which will possibly be of most interest to Limerick viewers. Directed by Christina Gangos, the 25 minute film sees Gangos integrating herself with a group of adults with special needs in Limerick over a three-month period. While it was shown last month, this is billed as the World Premiere. The will also be a Q&A Session with Christina.

Other films on the bill include Home, Garage, Fresh Film Festival Showcase, Jigs On Reels, Kings, and Vox Humana. Tickets from the Belltable on O'Connell St, and on the door from their temporary home at Red Cross Hall.