Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fuck dancing all night.

Went to see Jape again in Crawdaddy last night. No fruit was flung, many songs were sung, some weren't sung at all but merely banged out with all the unselfconscious aplomb of Scooter covering lo-fi indie rock. I like Jape. He pulled a strange crowd too. Definitely older than the average Crawdaddy gig crowd, but it was Friday and I suppose the short-lived NME Ireland thing probably helped him in those quarters.

One person was clearly on ecstasy. She was blowing in the wind and making shapes in the air and generally raving it up for the whole gig, but scarily she smashed a pint glass and then didn't notice that she was dancing barefoot on broken glass. She seemed happy enough though.

Jape-wise, Phil Lynott the song is still ridiculous to anyone who doesn't worship the name of Phil Lynott, but At The Heart Of All This Strangeness (I think that's the title - the only other soft one) was really good, and had the Friday night crowd shushing each other. Haunting stuff, and a really unusual chord in there somewhere.

Floating was banging. It's just instant gratification, alternative pop at its best. He has a couple of those, not so good but on the way. And he has a couple of ones where the lyrics render the song unlikeable. That's the trade-off when you're working on that kind of level of honesty, that sort of conversational thing.

It can go terribly wrong, like when it's about Phil Lynott (sorry! Comedy song!), but the first lines of Floating are poetry.

We took our first pill when the music was shit.
We said "Fuck dancing all night", but then we did it.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

North Strand Klezmer Band

I've never seen a live klezmer band before. So on Tuesday when the Trinity Jewish Society put North Strand on in Cassidy's as some sort of e-mail getting event/opportunity for everybody to realise that Jewish culture sometimes comes in very intense, North Dublin-based, seven man packages. An appreciable effort, and a worthwhile one.

Downstairs in Cassidy's was empty. This was a clever deception, because upstairs was absolutely jammed and sweaty as fuck. I can't imagine how stubborn and dull someone would have to be to stay downstairs when they heard the klezmer vamp and and the manic dancing kick in. Absolute brilliance.

They played a variety of different Jewish songs with Yiddish names which I have no chance of being able to reproduce accurately, even if I remembered their sounds. They also played some songs with names in English, like Merchant's Arch. And some gypsy songs.

They played vamping, incredibly Eastern European sounding brilliance on incredibly Eastern European sounding instruments, with no hint of irony at all. The place was packed to capacity and pumping. It was the best gig in a while. If you haven't seen them, you have to. Really. Preferably in a very full upstairs bar.

Hit them up on MySpace. "Other/Ska/Other" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When he turned around and cried...

Fight Like Apes last Friday in Whelans, then. Suppose I better talk about that. I was hoping to get a photo from the man who spent THE ENTIRE GIG bumping his camera into me or standing completely rigid when everyone else in the place was dancing. I expect that they'd be pretty good, seeing as he took pictures of the same people from the same angle for nearly an hour. I kept planning to ask him to stop, but of course I never plucked up the courage. In my head, it went like this.

Me: "Hey, how much did you pay in to this?"
Him: Either "13 euro" or "I was on the guestlist"
Me: Either "Me too, please stop bumping your camera into me" or "I paid 13 euro, please stop bumping your camera into me."

Anyway, this is the kind of aside that used to annoy me about other blogs. But I had to say it, in case any prospective photographers are planning on getting all elbows around me in venues without photographer pits in future. Please somebody think of the punters.

Grand Pocket Orchestra were the support. They were pretty good on the whole. It was my first time seeing them with their new guitarist (and my second time seeing them ever) and they're pretty different. I mean, their songs are the same, but a lot of their tweeness gets lost under Mr. Second Guitarist's Marshall stack guitaring. They're still great though. Their "slow" song, Little Messy, is not actually slow. The whole thing is just breakneck twee rock (the rock bit is newish), and if the sound was A LITTLE better they would have killed it.

Then Fight Like Apes. This was the longest I've seen them play for, and most of the length consisted of SP-303 atmospherics and movie dialogue, and general messing around. I love messing around though. Fight Like Apes are in their groove at the moment. I remember reading some terrible music magazine like Q once, talking about the Rolling Stones going from strength to strength. I don't remember the context. But that's what it seems like for Fight Like Apes.

Phantom is all over them, even Herald AM are calling them gig of the week, anyone who cares about what's going on in Dublin knows that Fight Like Apes are what's going on in Dublin. They don't fuck around either. It doesn't matter where they are or who's there, they whack saucepans (which I assume Pockets now possibly known as Jamie also uses to cook his food, given the reasonable price of their gigs and CDs) and fall over and scream and pretend to be karate people and all kinds of things.

Do You Karate? has grown to rival Jake Summers as my favourite Fight Like Apes song, and though the new EP is marginally less good than the old EP, it's good to have more recorded stuff. The Mclusky cover fits so incredibly well into the rest of their stuff. It's good to be at a gig where a lot of other people are into it. I keep having premonitions that in twenty years saying"I saw Fight Like Apes in Dublin before their first album came out... three times and maybe more" will be like saying "I saw Joy Division in the Hacienda" or "I bought crack off Jay Z before he was a rapper".

Hopefully. It was a very good gig. I do hope they can write more great songs, and put out a fantastic album. Which I will buy, even though I have the first EP, the second EP, the first and second EP and the 7", because maybe if Jamie gets enough money to buy an SP404 he'll put his SP303 on eBay and I can buy it and pretend to be Panda Bear.

This review has been pretty flitty. There's another one from HWCH around as well though, so check out my more organised thoughts there. This one wasn't quite as good. Sorry. I hate being a cunt. But it wasn't. It was still very good though.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Songs That Saved Your Life 1

Breaking my own mental rules for this blog by making a non-review post.

This is a song I really like. It's from 'Spirit They've Gone, Spirit They've Vanished' by the proto-Animal Collective (originally released under the name Avey Tare and Panda Bear).

I know a lot of people are just listening to Strawberry Jam, and that as far as most people get in their lifetimes is Feels and Sung Tongs. So I wanted to share an earlier song.

It's not kooky, to use a ridiculous word people have used in relation to Animal Collective too often. It doesn't sound like it's from a campfire singalong. There aren't any tribal drums or vocals. It has great lyrics. And a sort of really carefully constructed fragile sound that reminds me of a spider-web with dew on it for some reason. AND it drops at 5.15 into one of those bits that makes me punch the air with happiness.

It's fantastic. Enjoy it.

Chocolate Girl

For real-life chocolate girl.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Animal Collective

There aren't very many bands who I've called my favourite since I reached the Age of Reason (which for musical taste occurs about six months after you realise that good music doesn't always need distortion) and Animal Collective are one. REM, Radiohead, The Smiths. Maybe Of Montreal, recently. But Animal Collective had it for a long period of time.

They played Tripod on Sunday night. I'm not going to go into the crazy detail I could go into because (a) I did it yesterday and then deleted the post because it was stupid, (b) other people have already talked about the gig probably better than I would in my fanboydom and (c) nobody reads this blog anyway.

In short, I thought the gig was pretty good for half a gig. They played 6 or 7 songs, which for Animal Collective means the guts of an hour because of segues, intros, outros and improvisation. They were all Panda though. Which was suspicious.

Avey had the flu. There's nothing that can be done about this. I can't complain, like. I've had the flu. It's shit.

So an Animal Collective set with Noah (Noah is Panda Bear, if you're new to this) singing seemed like the logical step for them I suppose. People have complained that they didn't tell the crowd up front, but in fairness they probably considered the songs they did to be good enough to stand by and be judged by. They've done obscure sets before, hundreds of times, and if they think a Noah-only set counts as an Animal Collective set, that's fine by me. I enjoyed it.

Loch Raven was great. Song For Ariel was great. Other new songs that I can't remember titles of were great (I won't check the set-list at Collected Animals because I don't want to) or sometimes not that great. The Strawberry Jam songs were fed through everything the rest of the material was fed through.

And to be honest, I think that's partly why people were unhappy (as well as the short set and the lack of singles, obviously). Strawberry Jam's production was really pristine. The vocals weren't treated, the melodies were up front and there weren't any meandering songs really, apart from #1. So people who got into Animal Collective very recently might not have been prepared for what they actually sound like. Which is nobody's fault.

Funnily enough, while #1 stands out on Strawberry Jam because it isn't really a song per se, I thought it was the best thing they played on Sunday. Hypnotic stuff. Conan may have thought so too.

When Avey could take no more, after however many songs, Noah played some Person Pitch stuff. I screamed like a girl, I'll admit it.

Good Girl/Carrots is one of my favourite songs (or song/songs), I'd have paid 20 euro to see him play that by itself. And the second Song For Ariel was pretty cool too. Ariel must be tickled pink (that was a poor pun).

I enjoyed the gig. Definitely. I've seen Grass and Purple Bottle and We Tigers live before, so I wasn't as let down as some people were. I'd like to see them come back though. And play Peacebone. So everyone can realise exactly how good they can be at pop, as well as sending people into dazes.

This turned out pretty long after all.

Oh well.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird is just cool. He inhabits an imaginary space in my musical world that no-one else comes near. It would have taken significant setbacks to stop me from enjoying this gig, even though I saw him in February or March in Crawdaddy. I came out of the Crawdaddy gig a little disappointed. It turned out I was just being stupid, because in my memory that gig was great. I wasn't too versed on Armchair Apocrypha back then though. And I was devastated that he didn't play A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left. I had a bit of an obsession with that song, similar to the obsessions I had with Jellybones by the Unicorns, The Rat by The Walkmen and I'm A Cuckoo by Belle and Sebastian. You know, where you keep skipping back to the start every time it ends on your mp3 player.

Guess what he played on Friday in Tripod? Can you guess? Can you?

Yeah, he played A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left.

But seeing as I spent a lot of time listening to Armchair Apocrypha in the meantime, I enjoyed the rest of the gig lots too. Him and Dosh have their loops very tight by now. It's a mix of consummate professionality (super-tight looping), abject unprofessionality (erasing an entire multi-layered loop), pointless bassists (Jeremy), anecdotes (the explanation to Spare-Ohs is rehearsed, because he used it at Crawdaddy, but it's still hilarious and insightful) and Willie Nelson-esque heterodox phrasing (in a good way - I just mean he doesn't sing the songs straight).

Andrew Bird seems like he'd be cool to hang out with as well as being a great songbuilder. And he doesn't really challenge my heterosexuality. He wasn't even wearing a scarf.