Monday, September 29

Fancy a tinkle?

I just got the new Hauschka album, Ferndorf (I'm pretty sure it counts as an album although I once got berated for accidentally referring to a Gorecki 'symphony' as an 'album'. Jeez, some people are so picky. It had tracks on it; why can't it be a fucking album?...)

I really liked/like his 2007 offering, Room To Expand, and I'm acclimatising myself from listening to alot of Roots Manuva's Slime and Reason album in the last while (it's fantastic) and getting into this.

This is the work of German pianist and composer, Volker Bertelmann, and in many ways he is trying to strip away the stuffiness and rules of piano-based music by meddling furiously with the style, technique and often the instrument itself.
He's a musical manipulator and experimentalist in the world of 'prepared piano' - a term coined by John Cage, for a style where the pianist places objects on or between the strings and/or hammers to get a particular sound.
Bertelmann embraces this technique along with the incorporation of some beautiful string work and even some flourishes from the world of glitchy electronica (Aphex Twin has dabbled with prepared piano too).

The result is often unusual and frequently beautiful and I think this clip should demonstrate it well. The new album was released last week as far as I know and Pitchfork TV have a lovely clip from it which I will not embed here because it's too big for the Blogger format. It's here.


That RTE programme. No. Just no. It's all been done before elsewhere and despite the presence of our very own Olsen twin, the excellent Charlene McKenna, it's all just bits and pieces from other programmes such as the vastly overrated This Life and so on.

Friday, September 26

Anyone fancy a Shank?

Adebisi Shank tonight in the Boom Boom Room. See ya there, hopefully.
That's me in the pic after I got back from 'Nam and spent a few years in the park. Say hello if you see me. My tipple is either Buckfast in a brown bag or tinnies of Linden Village.
Saw a film called Sleep Furiously there earlier as part of the Stranger Than Fiction Festival. Will blog about it again anyway, so this is just a reminder.

Tuesday, September 23

Web awards nomination for Drop-D

I'm delighted to say that Drop-D (where I do most of my writing at the moment) has been nominated for an Irish Web Award for Best Music Site. It seems we are on the shortlist and I'm not going to pretend to be 'cool' about this; I love awards and attention so fuck it - come on the D!
I don't know how it works but if there's a voting system, I'm all up for rigging it, Balkan-states-in-the-Eurovision style.
I also pray this guy is there

Thursday, September 18


Does anyone else pay as much attention to the blogrolls there on the right as I do? It's becoming obsessive.
At work, I generally spend an inordinate amount of time perusing a huge amount of blogs. I now treat them in the same way as I treat news sites. I will flit from the Irish Times to The Guardian and over to the New York Times, Slate, Huffington Post, The Nation, Pitchfork and others while dipping in to all the blogs in my sidebar (and other people's sidebar too).
I get weird notions of missing out if I don't get to look at certain blogs. And if you read these (Irish) blogs you can't miss a gig. You can miss alot of other important shit, but not a gig.
On The Record provides a platform for all kinds of shenanigans and it seems that at one time or another everyone reads it. I find that sense of community-verging-on-character assassination encouraging during the week. Meanwhile the daily reading list grows.
And the blogrolls continue to fascinate me.
What blog is not on this one that is on these ones and why is that blog not on that one and why am I noticing this? What am I missing that no-one else is? How many clubs of mates are there in these blogrolls here? Are these people all old friends/workmates? At any rate, I do enjoy the community vibe. Does any of this matter at all? Unlikely. But it makes Tuesdays interesting. And let's be honest, Tuesdays are shit.

The banks did what now?

I usually think of myself as relatively clued in, up-to-date, on-the-ball and so on.
But when it comes to the financial market I haven't really got a clue. As far as I can gather, money has been handed out by every poor, suffering bank to every other poor, suffering bank. Now the world's assorted governments have stepped in to dole out loans to anyone in trouble. The reason for this?
Well, I won't insult your intelligence but suffice it to say that I went into a Spar the other day and got coleslaw, ham, turkey and cheese in a 'freshly baked roll'.
Cost: €4.90.
The thieving bastards. How long did they think this gravy train was going to continue? A pint for €5.50? A bag of crisps for €1.75 (posh crisps like Sensations or something). A pair of thick, black 80 Dernier tights for €3 (don't ask)
And where are the banks with the great loans for me? €480 billion at 3% interest? Bargaintown. Sign me up.
Let music be the cure, say I.
New albums/EPs by The Walkmen, Okkervil River, Mogwai, Final Fantasy and Roots Manuva are all worth checking out. Sun Kil Moon in the Academy on Saturday night should not be missed. Hopefully Mr Kozelek will be as grumpy as he was in Whelans.
In the meantime let's hope our credit card woes are all wiped out in some kind of financial meltdown and, just like in Fight Club, we all have to start all over again from zero. Cue the Pixies...

Friday, September 12

Punk rock

Myself (left) and Pink Eyes from Fucked Up. Shame about the quality. I also think we're related, given the unfortunate physical resemblance

Thursday, September 11

September 11th... I know.

September 11th has been a strange one for a good few years now.
The day of the twin towers attacks was my girlfriend's 21st birthday and we spent much of the day watching the news on television and then eventually having a few beers and heading out in Galway, as far as I remember.
A really weird day.
Anyone else remember where they were? Just out of curiosity.
Anyway, Happy Birthday Sinead x

Wednesday, September 10

The kind of news I want to read

Don't we all get sick of Obama, hurricanes, wars, recessions.
Don't we really want to read about scientists trying to recreate the Big Bang under laboratory conditions?
Don't we want to see articles finishing like this one below, taken from the Irish Times article about said project?

Websites on the Internet, itself created at Cern nearly 20 years ago as a means of passing particle research results to scientists around the globe, have promoted claims that the LHC will create black holes sucking in the planet.

"Nonsense," say the Cern - and other leading scientists. "The LHC is safe, and any suggestion that it might present a risk is pure fiction," declared Dr Aymar.

Black holes sucking in the planet. Today, the news had a victory.

Tuesday, September 9

Bury boys bury Burial

I couldn't resist that headline; it's the sub editor in me.
And I also couldn't be happier that Elbow have won the Mercury.
They're easily one of my favourite bands and Guy Garvey is one of the greatest frontmen around (Jeff Tweedy is up there too) with a witty, warm stage presence and beautifully honest lyricism.
They've had their ups and downs - with various label changes and a lack of commercial success - and until recently haven't been nearly as big as they might be, although they did have One Day Like This featured in the final Big Brother highlights wrap-up bit last week and they've now won a famous prize..
After a gripping, butterflies-in-the-stomach Electric Picnic performance, they return to us in October and I cannot wait.
I should be a little more reserved about them, maybe, given my girlfriend's open love for Mr Garvey (I received this message from her when I said I was blogging about Elbow: 'How sad you'll be when I run away with Guy. Even more so now he's been propelled to megastar status) but when they are this good, I'll just have to live with that threat..

Station Approach - Elbow

Newborn - Elbow

Saturday, September 6

Hack: A day in the life

A comment over on Jim's blog annoyed me a bit recently...well lots of comments piss me off but this one warrants a post on my insignificant blog. Yes, I'm fishing there. It was a comment asking if there could ever be a 'bad Glastonbury or bad Electric Picnic' in the review stakes as the journos who go there - often for free - to review it, would never dole out a bad review for fear of exclusion the following year when the coveted press passes are being offered out.

As someone who came late-ish to journalism, I spend my day working in a busy, well-known Dublin paper. As you may or may not know, I also write for a few different publications/e-zines.
The dayjob can be shit and it can be fun - like any job.
And given the unpredictability of recent economic times, it can be depressing.
I have seen people with families and mortgages arrive to work in the morning and have no job by the evening. And I wish I was being dramatic, but I am not.
Things have gotten ugly.
And parallel to this, I have witnessed the clashes that occur between 'advertising' and 'journalism'. Ads make the money for the company and the journalists provide the vehicle for said ads as well as providing the bloody reason one buys the paper in the first place.

In an ideal world, journalism would be the incorruptible warrior of truth, drudging through the facts and figures to grasp the truth firmly by its throat and drag it kicking and screaming to the eyeballs of the lied-to proletariat. This is, of course, bollocks..but hopeful.

This high and mighty ideal is vaguely related to the whole reviewing thing too.
If any of the hacks who went to the Picnic filed a positive review after a crappy weekend, they should be ashamed. But I just don't think it has happened. And I would like to think that those of us who did go to Stradbally and review the event, gave an honest account of their time and didn't pretend they had a blast to try and secure next year's freebie.
Also, from my experience, having to file the negative review can be soooo much more fun than filing the positive one and I believe that if someone had thought the entire weekend was a load of pants then they would gleefully have banged out 2,000 scathing words, emailed it to the relevant editor and sat back to wait for the backlash calling them every name under the sun for having a differing opinion from the media masses.

Mostly, I have found, journos thrive on being told they are wrong/arseholes/ill-informed or whatever. Those reactions are the most fun. The highest paid, and sometimes even the best, writers are the ones that are despised by many of their readers. Basically, despite the fact that we are hated by millions, I enjoy being a journalist and believe I have found a career that suits me, that I have a genuine interest in and that I hope to do for the rest of my life. I did Arts in college, and then an English MA, so for such a directionless oik as myself to be able to say that I now have a direction is something, I can tell you.

Despite all that meandering, what I want to say is: I try to be honest in my writing and I hope others in my profession do too. Maybe I should have just posted that? Typical fucking long-winded, gasbag, egomaniacal hack.

Moonshine Travellers

I mentioned this before and it's on next Thursday. Patrick and his cohorts (including me in one of the episodes) shot a mini series lead up to it and it provides a kind of backstory to the whole thing.
It's a really unique concept and Patrick has put a shitload of effort into the whole thing so if you are around next Thursday and fancy heading to Vicar Street (as opposed to the increasingly annoying Jimmy Carr in the Olympia the same night) then come along. I might even buy you a drink for being a reader. Howzat for an offer?! There Will Be Booze.

Thursday, September 4

Syriana's script vs. The Script

So now in the middle of Syriana on RTE, I am subjected to an item on The Script recording their new video. Because they have the financial clout of Sony behind them, they warrant a place on the national news as they commit the video for their new heinous aural atrocity to film? As Eddie in Bottom once pointed out, I would rather have a pineapple inserted violently into my rectum.
What a load of cock. Yes, they are easy targets and slagging them off is as obvious as saying 'red bull coke tastes like metal vomit' or 'the tyrannosaurus rex had small arms' but why does this need to be on the news; even as a late night 'squirrel in a miniature speedboat' moment?
And in the middle of Syriana too? Clooney's finest moment and a wonderful film that demands a second and third viewing. A film that never panders to the viewer, never spells things out and has Matt Damon explain, in one succinct delivery, the reason why war happens in the Middle East. Brilliant stuff.
In other news - and news that by now is old and boring - State mag is going free from next month. The blog buzz around this today has been interesting as people banged on about, among other things, journos at State having to take a possible paycut. Poor them. I work a day job for wages and do my Drop-d/Connected/and soon Analogue work for nada but the love and respeck, so I'm afraid I don't have sympathy for any paycuts.
Yes, yes that's bitterness, of course.
I dream of the day that hard cash is included as one of my motivations for doing all that writing.
Hard cash and love: two wonderful components vying for top spot...some day.
Actually Film Ireland pay me (God bless the movies) so there is a positive.

Tuesday, September 2

Back and alive

Stradbally didn't eat me alive and the review should be up on drop-d tomorrow. It was an exhilarating and tiring experience and having to work the Monday morning after 1 hour of sleep was not pretty. Hope you enjoyed it too, if you were there.
There's plenty I've left out of the review, I'm sure, but I hope it gives a good feel for the weekend. Incidentally, there was some arsehole in the press tent moaning about the quality of the pint-pulling at about 11.30pm on Friday night - the bars outside closed at 10pm.
There's always one, eh?