Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Nice Gentle Electronica Rugby Comedown

After hopefully watching Ireland scoop their first Grand Slam in sixty-one years, you could probably do worse tomorrow (Saturday 21st in cause you have any doubts) than relax with the sounds of Japanese electronic artist Midori Hirano. Ms Hirano will be playing a Pure Sound gig upstairs in Baker Place. Galway based Laura Sheehan and Vertigo Smyth will also be making appearances on this bill, with doors around 9pm. Here's hoping that a show like this ain't ruined by drunken post-match revelry.

Hirano's second album klo:yuri came out late last year, and here's a nice number from it called Feathers:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Electronique Tonight!

Some may remember a few months back that a new electronic and dubstep night Electronique was abruptly called to a halt when some renvoation work started at Daffy's. A no-nonsense name that did exactly what it said on the tin etc, it was a night run by Code and Bee from Nu Killa.

Thankfully, the guys are back in action from tonight in their new home of Issac Taylor's (Bentley's Basement) smack bang in the middle of town on O'Connell Street. It's an interesting choice of venue and further proof that during these times of gloom and doom, several city boozers may become a little bit open-minded as to what they let happen in their rooms.

Admission tonight is a ridiculously cheap €3. Yes, that is probably less than the price of a lucozade folks. The much-respected Nu Killa sound system will cope with the luscious selection of tracks on offer.

Some info from the press release lashed on here:

ELECTRONIQUE – Thursday 19th March / Isaac Taylors (Bentlys Basement), O’Connell St.

Diverse Electronic Beats

This new night kicked off in Limerick last September with the intent of broadening the cities soundscape. Dj’s Code and Bee are on a mission to make the Treaty City more receptive to the sounds of Dubstep and Electronica and on the evidence of their first venture, it seems that they might have some success. Their task has been made somewhat easier by media acclaim for the burgeoning Dubstep scene worldwide. This coverage has stimulated interest in the alienated electronic music scene and young minds seem to be more enthusiastic about experimental beats again these days, as is evident in the popularity of new music technology courses in local colleges.

If you’re not familiar with Dubstep or Electronica in it’s wider context this night presents the perfect environment for absorbing the culture. The vibe will be chilled enough early in the night with the emphasis being on the social side, while the ‘tacky-shakin’ beats will get played towards the end of proceedings.

Expect to hear the likes of Aphex Twin, The Black Dog, Burial, Benga, Boxcutter, Carl Craig, Orbital, The Future Sound Of London and other electronic music luminaries in the mix on a specially installed sound system.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two From The Archives - Messiah J & The Shank

Feeling pretty lazy, it being a Friday and all that, so instead of putting it some level of effort with this blog, I'm digging into the old files and pulling out two interviews from 2007. One with Messiah J (of MJ & The Expert) in May , and the other with Mick from Adebisi Shank in June of that year.

Lots of things have changed since. MJEX have released their third album "From The Word Go" to much aplomb, while Adebisi's debut album was perhaps the finest Irish release of last year to this wonky ears, while their dizzying live work-outs are seeing jaws drop and shirts sweat simultaneously.

Now both of them play together at Dolan's Upstairs tomorrow night (Saturday March 14th - MJEX are headliners). Tickets are ten bucks.

Here they are now:

Messiah J & The Expert - Megaphone Man

Adebisi Shank

And here's them way back when in a couple of stories from the past....

Adebisi Shank - June 2007
Aside from the renowned early twentieth century uileann piper Johnny Doran, and the annual Opera Festival, Wexford could hardly be considered a hotbed for musical talents over the year.

But here we are now, and a trio of goodtime math-noisemakers have emerged from the county more renowned for strawberries and potatoes. Adebisi Shank is Mick Roe (Drums), Lar Kaye on guitar and Vin McCreith on bass.

As Roe explains, there was never much inspiration at home to get them going, and as such most of their gigs have been in the capital. "I've only ever played one gig in Wexford when I was young. Wexford is pretty bad for gigs but there is one or two good ones here and there. Apparently, a good few years ago New Ross used to be really good for DIY gigs but I don't remember it".

While the band practise and record in Wexford, Roe is the only one based there full-time these days. Yet, they have overcome any logistical problems to record an EP. "It was recorded in our own studio in Wexford. We built the studio ourselves about three years ago, so it's really rewarding to finally have some stuff recorded there. The EP should be ready and on sale for the tour at the end of June. At the minute its in the plant and we're stressing out because there was a problem with the artwork, but it looks like it'll be ready in time", says Roe.

Adebisi Shank make a savage racket for a three-piece, and it is no surprise considering that Kaye and Roe are both involved in ace Dublin experimental rock outfit Terrordactyl. McCreith meanwhile does the 8-bit meets super-cheese thing with the wonderful Vinny Club.

Roe believes that it is a healthy thing for them all to have other musical outlets. "It's loads of fun being able to do different things on breaks away from Adebisi. Our schedules work out really well; we have days for doing other things where one of us may be working or busy with another band. We probably all dedicate the most amount of time to Adebisi though".

The EP will be released on Popular Records, who are also home to Anything But Alpha Males, The Vinny Club and Danish outfit Marvin's Revolt. It is all very much run on a DIY basis as a "non-profit, no contract label". Roe admits that is all hands on deck to make it a success.

"Lar set it up but has been too busy for the last while to get too involved so I've been doing most of the work at the minute. He's gonna help out when he's not so busy anymore. Vin helps out with design stuff as well whenever I'd need it. The bands on the label help out a good bit as well which is pretty cool. There's a good few releases coming out on it all around the same time so it's pretty hectic at the minute but all the bands are great to work with and pretty much do all the work themselves. It's a joy to be involved in it".
Messiah J & The Expert- May 2007

It was empty vessel -nil, good ol’ writer’s block -six

One more loss and it was curtains for a sophomore release

Messiah J and The Expert’s second album “Now This I Have To Hear” did not come so easily; MJ’s lyrics above from “Seven Cups of Coffee and A Slice of Apple Strudel” echo the common sentiments of the difficulty any writer can come up with.

Add to the mix the fact that their debut “What’s Confusing You?” (released on the now defunct Volta Sounds) had picked up plaudits, and that they had to wait three years between releases. Yet, Messiah J and The Expert used the interim period to craft a LP that raised the bar significantly.

Starting out as two-thirds of Creative Controle, the Dublin hip-hop young bucks released their debut single “Bloodrush” in 2001. It showcased producer The Expert’s penchant for orchestral samples (still very much evident), and a dash of the irrepressible Wu-Tang and a smidgen of sounds that wouldn’t have seem out of place of the Def Jux catalogue. In MC Messiah J, they had someone with a vocal tone and flow similar to Sage Francis, with occasional tinges of a Dublin accent. A calling card had been left.

For “Now This…”, they changed the script again with multiple collaborations and additional musicians, including ex-Connect 4 Orchestra guitarist Glenn Keating, chanteuses Leda Egri and Nina Hynes, and the biggest coup, the aforementioned Def Jux’s C-Rayz Walz.

“It wasn’t a conscious effort to put as many people on the record as possible”, explains Messiah J. “Glenn had been playing live with us; he is such a good guitarist, a really inspirational player. We chased C-Rayz and Nina alright. She basically came up one day, did her vocal in one take, and to quote The Expert ‘we were blown away’”

While the new additions added an extra layer, one couldn’t help but imagine The Expert orchestrating it all like some mad conductor type. For Messiah J, one of the standout tracks “VIP” also marked a significant breakthrough. Moving away from the more personal narrative, its tale of a widower whose news source is the obits recalls the storytelling nature of Buck 65.

“That’s one of my favourite tracks”, says MJ before recalling it’s background. “My Granny had died and the other one got Alzheimer’s around the same time. People are always writing music for young people, and I just want to flip that around. It’s about people feeling important, not just old people. And I suppose you can’t beat a good story.

“To be honest, if I had one complaint with the first album, it was that there wasn’t enough variation. With this, I just wanted to record it with my voice barely above a speaking tone”. Yet, does MJ find these tracks more difficult to write? “The kind of personal songs like “All The Other Girls” - they write themselves as they were true to life. At the same time, “Place Your Bets” took f**king ages even though it seems really straightforward”.

Speaking of “Place Your Bets”, a recent video in which the two partake in a competitive game of darts, is as Messiah J describes, “one of the most fun things I’ve done with this band”. Directed by Davey Sexton, the idea came about when they were watching the World Darts Championship.

“We shot it in the pub, and basically got a load of people and got them drunk. I knew nothing about the rules of the game though, so I was there on the day saying ‘how do you play this’ and the lads were all laughing their heads off at me!”.

2007 has started off extremely well for MJEX. A more than deserved Choice Music nomination, the release of the EP “…And Another Thing” (available exclusively on tour), their debut American performance at South By South West, and a forthcoming UK debut release all show that things are looking up for the duo.

And like so many other Irish artists, they are doing it on their own, setting up the Inaudible label with their manager. “Yeah, I’m in the HQ at the moment, my flat”, chuckles Messiah J. “We were tired of waiting around, and knew that we were good enough. We just couldn’t wait around for some magic man to turn up!”.

While MJ admits that much attention for the summer will be on getting off the ground in the UK (their debut gig is straight after the 2fm 2moro 2our), work has already started on writing for their third LP, and he is suitably excited.

“We’re really happy so far. There is a lot of energetic music there, but I don’t wanna give away too much as it’s still early days. When we have a good day in studio, that’s when we are at our happiest. The Expert has got lots of things he wants to try with this next record, and I’ve got loads I wanna say”.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rowing & Football Friday Night?

Well, sort of.

Friday night sees Limerick FC's first home game of the season in Division 1 of the League of Ireland, when they face Galway newboys Mervue United at Jackman Park. The still manager-less Super Blues went down last weekend at UCD, losing 2-1. Hopefully this Friday will see a better result and a large contingent of local supporters.

Elsewhere, the Rowing Club (the posh one across the road from where the Boatclub is/was) is the venue for Kerrynini's latest venture. The Kerrynini lads have tried out a few venues in Limerick, so hopefully this one will become a regular haunt for them, and with them they bring a man some see responsible for landing Badly Drawn Boy on us(courtesy of his role as co-founder of Twisted Nerve)
Andy Votel, who is a more than acclompished electronic musician in his own right.

A perfectly good press release has been prepared, so I'll quit yapping and press ctrl and v

Kerrynini Present:

Andy Votel (finders keepers/B-Music)

Friday 13th of March

@ The Rowing Club, Sarsfield Bridge Limerick.

Visual presentation courtesy of Cheebah's Paul Tarpey
Support from Jeremy Murphy and Kerrynini DJs
dOOrs are 9.30pm until late, admission is 10 euros.

Andy Votel is as close to a one-man music business as you could wish to get. A solo artist in his own right, he also produces, remixes, designs, DJs and runs a number of blissfully eclectic record labels.

Votel grew up in the north west of England and developed a broad taste for music, specializing in all things psychedelic, from Can to Serge Gainsbourg. He released some records on Grand Central and started the legendary Twisted Nerve label back in the late 90s along with Bad Drawn Boy. Things got mental busy from there on in.

But probably the reason most people will know Andy Votel is for his record collection. And damn, kid – Andy Votel got records for days. His Music To Make Girls Cry and Songs In The Key Of Death mixes are testament to that, spawning a generation of diggers to start looking in ever more obscure places and countries. He's scoured a world of second hand shops on his international record raid, a quest to unearth the forgotten foreign dancefloor gems from the days long past. And it's these lost musical documents that end up being discovered by a new generation of heads, thanks to the immense amount of folk, psych, and prog diamonds that have been reissued by Votel via his Finders Keepers and B-Music labels.

Andy Votel will be bringing his wild wonky DJ skills to the Rowing Club on Sarsfield Bridge, March 13th. Expect Japanese choreography records, space-age Turkish protest songs, Czechoslovakian vampire soundtracks, Welsh rare-beats and bubblegum folk all slapped up in a wigged-out wash of exquisite foreign breakbeat mayhem. Support comes from the Kerrynini men and Jeremy Murphy (every djs' favourite dj). Keeping with the sprit on the night of rediscovering and presenting nuggets from the past, Cheebah's heroic Paul Tarpey has sifted digitally through a stack of old video tapes to find psych-related visual confrontations that will be strung together for a projected loop edit channelling a 60s to 80s vibe where the sprit of the ufo club meets the style of early Human League projections'

Recent Reviews

To break from the norm, here's a few reviews I did that featured in some mags recently.

Sholi – Sholi (Quarterstick/ Touch & Go)

Californian trio Sholi keep their alt-rock credentials firmly in check by enlisting Deerhoof sticksman Greg Saunier as the producer of their eponymous debut album. While they may not be seeped in the chaotic spirit of Saunier’s mob, Sholi aren’t exactly straightforward.

Indeed, from the opening strains of “All That We Can See” they prove they have their own dabbling percussive power in Jonathan Bafus. Over the course of the following seven tracks, Sholi brew up dreamy textures, with time-changes that may be jagged but never harsh.

Another secret weapon that filters out as Sholi progresses is the power of frontman Payam Bavafa’s vocals; on the record’s most rambunctious number “Any Other God”, he heads for Jeff Buckley territory, without sounding jaded.

On the basis of this, Sholi will be grabbing plenty of attention, with or without the blessing of others in the alt-circle.


*Appears in this month's AU Magazine

Parts & Labor – Receivers (Jagjaguwar)

For an outfit who probably got their name after a disgruntled trip to their local car garage, it’s not startling that there is an almost mechanical sound to Parts & Labor’s fourth album Receivers.

From the bagpipe-esque opening keyboard strains of “Satellites”, manipulation of equipment and sound is the name of the game as this Brooklyn four-piece weld their succulent brand of experimental noise-rock with a chastening flood of pop flashes.

Since predecessor Mapmaker, there have been changes aplenty in the P&L camp; rambunctious sticksman Christopher Weingarten left the fold, with the more restrained Joe Wong coming in, while Sarah Lipstate is now officially on the teamsheet on guitar duties, joining founders Dan Friel and B.J. Warshaw, who tag-team vocal duties throughout.

The personnel switches have had an effect. Receivers is the sound of a band immersed in wildly focussed synchronicity. Nothing is getting left on the floor here; from the bubbling tension of early post-punk in the wailing of “Mount Misery” to the Dan Deacon-if-he-was-an-artrocker spurt that is “Nowhere’s Nigh”, all the bells and whistles are fully intact.

Equal parts catchy as it is experimental, Receivers is a twisty affair that keeps you gripped by its unpredictability. Heck, it even sounds anthemic at times, and in the likes of “Little Ones”, they may have just recorded the tracks that will not just earn them the critical clams of peers like TVOTR, but open up the wider public to them too.


*Appears in the current State online edition and website.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Glór Film Club

The Glór Film Club have a busy March, with not one, not two, but eight flicks on viewing in the lovely surrounds of the Ennis venue.

Popped in myself on Sunday night to see Man On Wire (seemingly this was over rights issues, something which hit the Belltable Film Club also), only to find out it had been switched. In its place was the charming Israeli film The Band's Visit.

The next seven on the agenda are a mixed bunch, hopping from archive footage on traditional Irish music to German comedy to a documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A full listing can be viewed here.

And given the year that is in it (the centenary of his birth), no better time to haul out the much-acclaimed 2005 beeb-production Bacon's Arena on Sunday, March 22nd. Damage is seven euro, with tea/coffee and some tasty biscuits also on offer.

J5 Man Comes To Town

Yup, just spotted on The Chalkboard that ex Jurassic 5 MC Akil at the Belltable of all haunts for a solo show. You can read his take on the demise of said outfit at this rather lengthy myspace blog entry

Tickets for this one are seventeen fat ones, and it happens on Friday March 27th. You can get the full lowdown on Eightball's website here. They also have Halfset in the very same venue the previous week (March 21st).