Thursday 29 May 2008

Dan Deacon. Talking About New Album.

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Dan Deacon speaks candidly about his new album. Titled Bromst, it is due to be released later this year. It promises to be a "much darker", more "mature" and "organic" proposition than his Spiderman collection. The electronics, MIDI, voice combo will not dominate this time round. Live instrumentation and sampling will be central. Most of the tracks will be heavily percussion based, with sporadic smatterings of marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, and vibraphone. Intriguing. However, due to this aesthetic deviation there will be no place for the euphoric "Silence Like The Wind" on the album. A pity really.

Dan also rails against the predilection amongst music critics to label him "wacky". It denotes a lack of seriousness about his work that pisses him right off. He hints at drastic changes to his live show to coincide with the more organic timbre to this album. Dan Deacon, with a band, on a stage. Say it ain't so! Yet before this causes a ripple of panic amongst those of you who have purchased a ticket for Dan, Jape et al as part of the upcoming Future Days buzz in Vicar Street, fear not. The changes are not due until 2009.

In celebration of his burgeoning album and upcoming appearance in Dublin, do enjoy the (relatively) new video for "Okie Dokie":

It must be said, the Future Sounds line-up is really rather good. Y'all got your tickets?

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Wristcutters: A Love Story

Wristcutters: A Love Story... The premise? A heartbroken man commits suicide only to find that the afterlife is just like this one, only slightly worse. He gets a job in a pizza joint. He cannot smile. Nobody can... The trailer:

Fascinating, and it has just been released on DVD on these shores. Oh yeah, if the hipster chic quotient wasn't already high enough, a certain Tom Waits appears as a spirit guide. The money grabbing bastard!

Tuesday 27 May 2008

The New(ish) Gaming Industry Tycoon

String Quartet for XBox 360. The must have gift this Christmas.

Good evening folks! Fancy a bit of gaming industry gossip? The New(ish) Journalist is on the cusp of a major contract with the makers of Rock Band. Inspired by the screaming relevance and intelligence of said game, I approached said industry folks with the following two words: String Quartet. "Imagine the joy", I said, "as you and a couple of mates rock out to some nuanced Gustav Mahler compositions over some Merlot and hazelnut foie gras!" Sacks of cash were instantly flung in my direction. A Christmas deadline now looms ominously on my horizon.

They also responded positively to a few of my other ideas.
Accordion Hero was greeted with a particular rapture. Unfortunately the proposal hinges utterly on the acquisition of the entire back catalogues of Sharon Shannon and Foster & Allen. We're hopeful. In addition, Jew's Harp Hero and Barbershop Quartet are being focus grouped. Initial feedback is promising.

What can I say? I'm an ideas man. Always have been, always will be. I don't just think outside the box. I tear the box asunder, make a paper/cardboard airplane out of the remnants, and then fling it directly into the corneas of my competition. Their tears please me.

Monday 26 May 2008

A Suicidal Kermit The Frog

Sad Kermit plays a beautiful Elliott Smith number, throws something of a wobbler and goes all Richie Tenenbaum. A truly bizarre one this and more than a little unsettling. Observe:

Saturday 24 May 2008

Careful Now! Galway In Illegal Sexy Cinema Shocker!

For those of you who may be unaware, there has been a bit of fuss recently in Galway about the owners of a sex shop who are allegedly misusing their premises as a cinema. A dirty cinema. For the full depraved tale, click here.

However, the story as I see it is really all about this quote from suitably outraged Galway city councillor Padraig Conneely:

"There are already two of them in the city, they have planning permission for a shop but not for a cinema. A lot of the business they do is for things like hen parties. When I went up for the look myself, I saw two young women coming out with bags of stuff, you know, the dildos and blow up dolls and all that type of thing. It's done all over the country."


Thursday 22 May 2008

The Tom Waits Ticket Price "Issue".

My take on the matter.

As the grotesquely knowledgeable Jim Carroll pointed out yesterday, Tom Waits is playing three shows in Dublin this summer. These will be in The Ratcellar, an all-seated marquee in the Phoenix Park. Tickets will be €116.25 and €131.25 and are available from Tuesday next at the ninth bell in the morning.

Obviously, these are rather expensive prices. Yet before one drowns in a stew of righteous indignation, one should take a step back from one's creaky pulpit. Take a breath. Consider. Tom Waits is a professional artist, surrounded by evidently skilled professional business people who want to make as much money as possible. The man has an utterly devoted fanbase and he never performs here. The demand for tickets will therefore be stratospheric so it makes sense that the price should soar in tandem.

Personally, whilst being a big admirer of the man's music, I don't think it is worth it. For that much cash I would have to be seeing Tom in a basement jazz bar in Paris, quadruple gin in my hand, saturated in cigarette smoke. His heavy delivery reverberating around the room as I weep silently for my recently departed Brazilian lingerie model with a PHD in metaphysics. After the gig Tom will sidle up beside my in my poorly lit booth, throw an arm around my shoulder, a torn packet of Gitanes on the table. With a click of his fingers Anna Karina walks straight out of that scene in
Vivre Sa Vie and starts to sway, demure and interested. That devilish grin will linger a bit, "Johnny Boy, it's all gonna be okay!"

Probably not gonna happen in a tent in Dublin. Therefore, I'm not going to buy a ticket. As a consumer I have made a conscious and informed choice about a product. Boo! Hiss! Tom Waits is above capitalism and all those evils! Erm, clearly not. It is up to you then, Adult Consumer A, if you are willing to fork out. If you are sufficiently devoted to the Tom Waits legend then buy a ticket and go see him in concert with 6,000 like minded folks. If not, then shut up. Your whining is ridiculous.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits Album. Utterly Pointless Really.

Don't get me wrong. This is by no means the worst musical vanity project ever bestowed upon us by Hollywood. Actually, the music itself is inviting. TV On The Radio dude Dave Sitek's production is typically dense and some of the arrangements are quite pretty.

My gripe is with the artiste. A fine actress she may be, but Scarlett ain't got the lungs for a Tom Waits number or ten. The gravelly Galoises engraved lungs. The joy of a great Tom Waits song is in the conviction of his expression. By turns world weary, demented, angry or crestfallen, the man always growls from experience. His is a life fully lived. And he is all the cooler for it.

Scarlett is 23 years old. She does not growl. She whines. Her lower octaves and breathy delivery operate purely on an aesthetic level. There is no passion, no evidence of emotional devastation. Uncomfortable and self-aware, she never once makes the listener believe. Whilst never sounding horrible, the album is ultimately a soulless exercise. An achievement in itself considering her accomplished wordsmith.

As relevant as a Bella from Fair City album of Tommy Fleming covers.

By the by, if you want to hear some worthwhile music from a Hollywood actress then check out She & Him. The delectable Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward make with the Juno loveliness buzz. "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" is on heavy rotation at the moment. Give it a whirl.

Monday 19 May 2008

The Happening. A Promising Premise.

A decidedly morose trailer too:

All rather intriguing. The question then is can M. Night Shyamalan finally deliver a satisfactory end product with The Happening? Can this film, unlike any of his previous attempts, truly do justice to the ingenuity of his premise? Or shall we be assaulted once again with a contrived maelstrom of self-indulgence and "metaphor"?

Honestly, if it were any other director attached to this project then I would be genuinely excited by the above. Alas, cynicism must be my reflex... I mean, the aliens were killed by water. Water. 71% of the planet is covered in something that kills them slowly and painfully. So they invade it. Morons.

Sunday 11 May 2008

The Subtle Art Of Music Criticism. Or Nothing Like It.

We Versus The Shark. Sound like hitting a girl in the stomach. Apparently.

Just the other day a mate of mine came to me with an old copy of Hot Press - Vol. 32 Issue 6, Nick Cave cover - that he had picked up in Róisíns for free. Ahem. He told me to flick to the 42nd page of the publication. There was a sidebar concerned with burgeoning bands at indie spectacular SXSW. I read the following gibberish in said sidebar:

We Versus The Shark.

The pitch: an Athens, Georgia combo who sound like The White Stripes being punched in the stomach by Metallica.

Ok then.

What does that even mean? Not only does it give you no clue as to the musical inclination of the band - except maybe a tendency to be loud - but it also condones violence against women... Run Meg White! Run for the hills! There are incongruous and lazy metaphors on the rampage!

Not cool. However, I nevertheless understand that it can be hard for journalists to keep making with the pithy and the ironic on a fortnightly basis. I really do. And so I have decided to be kind to those of you in such a predicament. Feel free to borrow any of the following witticisms, each one more illuminating than the last:

The New(ish) Journalist's Glossary Of The Incongruous and Lazy. For Music Journalists.

1. Sounds like BAND NAME never calling BAND NAME back.

2. BAND NAME sound tighter than putting on your girlfriend's skinnies. Backwards. On Hill 16.

3. BAND NAME, as angry as a drunk Tony Soprano in an episode of Sex And The City.

4. Sounds like BAND NAME getting a reach around from a mustachioed George Formby.

5. Imagine BAND NAME alone on a broken down ghost train in Mullingar.

6. A soundscape as bleak as Bosco on smack. Smack supplied by BAND NAME.

7. BAND NAME, BAND NAME, and BAND NAME all walk into a bar. It's not funny.

8. If Disney made a porno, this would be the soundtrack.

So there you go folks. Pilfer as you please. Indeed, if anybody is still stuck then feel free to email me for pointers. Consider me the Robert Towne of Irish music journalism.

This glossary is also suitable for aspiring indie kids. One of these bombs would garner much chin stroking and smugness dropped barside in Whelans. You might want to learn them off though. A printout would cause an unsightly bulge in those Topman skinnies.

Saturday 10 May 2008

The Great Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip Review. Episode # 2: The Galway Gig.

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - Stress! @ De Burgos, Galway, May 8th.

Outside. Some greasy steps on Augustine Street. The drizzle is incessant, merciless. Well, as merciless as drizzle can be. And yet despite such meteorological pettiness, the queue continues to grow. Cheeky cans are quaffed and whimsies are spun, and the queue continues to grow. A peculiarly menacing gentleman in a floral umbrella, shorts, socks and sandals combo passes by. The queue continues to grow. The doors open suddenly. The queue shall grow no longer. There are no tickets left. Clutches of Galwegian musos meander home disappointed. There will be neither Dan Le Sac nor Scroobius Pip for them tonight, on this the first completely sold-out date of their Irish tour. The gentlemen responsible at Stress!! look content. As do the ticket holders.

Inside now. Damp do and sweaty Tiger beers. The breeze is shot to pieces. In the cosy confines of De Burgos, proximity to the artiste is paramount. Haste is required. We venture towards the stage. Whereon we witness the beginning of the support set. A comically hirsute Vince Mack Mahon are ripping it up. This foursome - Deviant, Hideous Penguin, Mikey Fingers, and DJ Tweek - now call Galway their home, having arrived here from corners as wonderfully disparate as Cork, Killarney and Roscommon. Their buzz is scratch perversion and those in attendance are really rather enjoying it all. It goes a little something like this... Sans Mantua '07 environs, of course.

Evangelical seems to be an adjective of choice when Master Scroobius Pip is discussed by critics. Apt. The crowd's reception of him and his suitcase of tricks is no less than rapturous. The niceties are kept to a minimum as he and Dan Le Sac launch directly into "The Beat That My Heart Skipped". The tempo is set. Then swiftly re-aligned. "Magician's Assistant" is next up, bringing it with it all the merriment and body movin' that a song about suicide can. Cue an ironic grin and self-aware joking from Scroobius. Is it enough?

More tunes. Chronology fails me now. "Development" sounds fuller and punchier than on the album. The props may have something to do with this. A lesson in entertainment from the bygone Tommy C perhaps? "Angles" is particularly impressive with Scroobius relishing in the visceral delivery of his parable. A Blair and Bush baiting piece of (un)spoken word poetry elicits one of the biggest cheers of the evening. An emphasis of the talent in our midst. Pip demands an instant frenzy for the thumping "Back From Hell". The neon brigade front left comply completely.

The best saved for last? "Thou Shalt Always Kill" is obviously glorious. The zealotry with which Pip's commandments are bellowed back at him makes it all the more enjoyable. Radiohead and Le Sac soundtrack the closing opus. "Letter From God To Man" exists as a definition of literate and socially aware hip-hop. Guns, bitches and bling pale into insignificance when in ironic discussion with a deity. Thomas Hobbes, bile from the Big Guy, a fucked up state of nature. With dancing. Which is nice.

Alas, that perpetual niggle of the hip-hop gig, it all seems like it is over too soon. Yet there are no complaints as the crowd begins to disperse, amiable and content. Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip seem quite satisfied themselves. As well they might. Job done. Sporadic flashes of brilliance. Tour finished. Their place on quite a few pedestals in Galway assured.

The Great Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip Review. Episode #1: The Album.

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - Angles.

Let me get the versus issue out of the way from the get go. There is only one winner in the battle between Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip... And it is most certainly Master Pip. A poetic soul, an inquisitive inclination, an ear for a punchline. A discourse encompassing the evils of warfare, the hypocrisies of the NME brigade, and lurve. Impressive, no? Do not misunderstand me, Dan Le Sac is an artist of no little talent. However, would he ever have permeated the indie consciousness to such an extent without his able MC at his side?

The lyrical agility of Scroobius Pip is something to behold. Whilst he may not be the finished article in terms of flow, his keen intelligence more than makes up for this minuscule grievance. He tears the zeitgeist asunder on breakthrough hit "Thou Shalt Always Kill", hilariously underlining the many inanities of our very particular generation. A quote would be redundant at this stage, surely. He is prepared to examine the deeper issues too. Self-harm and alienation on "Magician's Assistant": "But then... what about me? / What kind of boyfriend am I? / Instead of living a life I was a big part of, you would rather die. / Instead of fighting through together and turning things around / You decided the grass was greener on the other side of the ground." "Reading My Dreams" is an exercise in subtle love poetry, an album closer of touching beauty and fragility: "I adjust to rest upon her sweet breast / And on her torso more so / In each others arms and with interlocked hands / Lay two smiling faces and one set of plans." And we return to the humorous once again, with this snippet from "Rapper's Battle", one of many examples of Pip's way with a punchline:
"You can hear her every word, you would still never know me / Like Sean Penn could win 10 Oscars but he'll still be Spicoli."

There are moments of brilliance on this album during which the skills of both artists operate in dexterous and harmonious union... The thundering exclamation of Le Sac's beat on "Thou Shalt Always Kill" is the perfect foil to the urgency of Pip's proclamations. Le Sac's staccato composition on "Angles" deftly reinforces the uncomfortable lyrical narrative. Unfortunately it is not consistently so. There is a messiness to Dizzie Rascal nod "Fixed" that weakens Pip's sarcastic tirade. A confused pity. "Rapper's Battle" is a few edits away from a complete tune, Pip's vocals oscillating wildly throughout the mix. And whilst "Letter From God To Man" is quite the indie/liberal anthem, it would have benefited from slightly less noodling. Only slightly.

Angles is not perfect. There are flaws. However, these can and should be ignored. For this album is imbued with a freshness and urgency that leaves many contemporaries in its wake, be they within the realm of hip-hop or otherwise. Via the dexterity of Scroobius Pip the listener can be transported to a unique oasis of wit and inarguable potential. Once there the body pops are enabled by Monsieur Le Sac. Really, what more could one ask from a debut? They are, after all, just a band.