Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Du Ug Meg

Last night, as a result of Sunday lethargy and a vague inclination, I rolled up to Whelans for Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. It's only the third gig I've been to in 2007, and the first that I'm blogging about (So Cow in Galway went on the Analogue blog, and I just wasn't arsed doing Grand Pocket Orchestra). Are you as excited as I am?

Storkboy Choons - Do The Octopus

The first support was Storkboy Choons, a Kells man with the uncanny ability to look exactly like Asleep On The Compost Heap. It's fairly ambient stuff, and a weird thing to have on early in the night at an indie gig, but it makes sense that Storkboy would be pitching to that crowd rather than the clubbing crowd. It was actually really enjoyable, sort of cathartic. Things went in unusual directions and then sort of reeled in. The volume also seemed to increase steadily for the whole set. The general buzz was probably assisted by the fact that every Kells citizen of child-bearing age seemed to be there to support.

There are negative sides to playing such ambient stuff live obviously - not having any gaps in the whole set meant that concentration tended to wander, even though it totally made sense from a musical point of view. Also, a seated audience from the broad rock tradition (as opposed to the dance tradition) is going to be staring at the two guys sitting at their laptops tweaking Ableton, and it's not the most visually stimulating experience. But it was the first Storkboy Choons gig. Between the fact that the music was actually quite decent, and the way that the dynamics of the set worked with tunes working into each other in ebbs and swells, there were the guts of a really good act. Definitely interesting enough to keep watching in the future.

Ugly Megan - Bobby Orlandisco (live, but not from last night and without the sampled loops and things)

Second on was Ugly Megan. I actually (cryptically) named this entry after Ugly Megan and used a picture of them instead of Owen Ashworth because of how much I liked them. They are from Waterford. And they are the lo-est of fi. The mouldiest of peaches, if you will. The Moldy Peaches is the best gateway into describing them, I'd say. It's a boy and a girl, and they fluctuate from hyper-twee music with intentionally naive lyrics to hyper-twee music with knowingly referential lyrics. Their voices even sound a little bit like Kimya and Adam's. But it's not a wholesale thing.

The mechanics of how they make music are pretty interesting. More than one song started with the gentleman (Orlando, according to the title of one of their songs) pounding his fist off the soundboard of his acoustic guitar for a bass-drum and clacking muted strings for a snare. And then looping it. A salutably lo-fi way of laying down a sick beat, if you ask me. The lady (Kathi according to the title of the above song) loops on what could have either been a xylophone or a keyboard on xylophone setting or maybe both. They both sing, in a really unpretentious and effortless way. They have quite catchy songs. Orlando is also so awkward on-stage that he seems to find it incredibly difficult to do anything. But that actually comes off as endearing in context. They exchange looks and nods when they change bits. They just generally defrost my frosty blogger cynicism. I liked them a lot.

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Bobby Malone Moves Home (a home video by someone about their small town hometown)

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone came on at about 9.50. I have listened to Etiquette quite a lot since it came out, on last-bus trips home alone and in my room depressedly studying. But I think that's probably the optimum place to listen to Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, unfortunately. Owen Ashworth is a bearish man, and if I were to summarise his live show in one sentence it would be thus: "A man played tracks and mumbled his songs into a microphone, then got his friend to sing for a while, then mumbled Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Parenthetical Girls into a microphone".

That seems a little unfair, because it is. He's good enough to listen to. But I think if I didn't already know the songs I would've had trouble following what he was saying, and the whole point of Casiotone is (ironically not the Casiotone backing but) the short-storyesque lyrics. He played all the hits, and for me the cover of Love Connection was probably the highlight. New Year's Kiss and Bobby Malone Moves Home were both also quite good. Holly Hobby was sung as Bobby Hobby, weirdly. Overall, something was just lacking for me though. Unfortunately.

I'd probably plus the gig on CFTPA's merits anyway, but Ugly Megan and Storkboy secure it. Sorry for the incoherence. I have no excuse, really.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Mixtape

I bought some tapes last week because my girlfriend asked me to make her a mixtape for her car. It got me to thinking: my brother is 14. He has never experienced making a tape. When he got interested enough in music to want to collect tracks together, he had Limewire and iTunes sitting in front of him. He just types "marijuana reggae" into the search engine, picks the first twelve things that come up, and eventually burns them to a CD.

Thing is, he doesn't even listen to the CD. Because that's not a part of his musical existence. He listens to music on the computer and on his mp3 player. And that's it. I think that's a pity, personally. He doesn't though. He never developed a sentimental attachment to circular pieces of plastic, and he definitely never bothered involving himself with cassettes.

I know the cassette is a format destined never to have a retro revival, unless it's an ironic one. But I still fondly remember the hours I would spend with my entire CD collection (of about 10 CDs and a few free magazine compilations), plus things I had taped off my friends and off the radio. Pressing record and stop, record and stop.

Trying to figure out whether Nirvana into Moby or Nirvana into Pennywise was a better idea. Record and stop. Trying to ensure I got enough tracks per side so I didn't have to fast-forward at the end, but also trying to ensure that I didn't end up cutting off the arse of a good song. The sound of a tape rewinding in the Walkman I got for my communion is as much a part of my memories as kicking a ball against a wall or my friend putting on a jumper with a wasp in it.

So I made you a mixtape. Well, I made it for myself, and for my girlfriend. On tape. But here it is on mp3 anyway. There'll be another one in a while. There isn't really a theme, but I did try to make stuff go together, and every song comes with full love and backstory from your Selector here.

Talking Heads - Thank You For Sending Me An Angel
Vampire Weekend - Walcott
El Guincho - Kalise
The Cure - The Caterpillar
Xiu Xiu - Under Pressure
REM - These Days
Bülent Ortaçgil - Suna Abla
Gruff Rhys - Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru
The Kinks - Do You Remember Walter?
Peter Delaney - Pariah Chimes

Click here to download.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tight Ends

A couple of weeks off and I'm feeling refreshed.

Reasons I'm back on the blog:
  • After this week, I have minimal college work to do for a while, so I will have time to post shite.
  • There are great turbulent swathes of brilliant gigs just over the horizon. I've got tickets for Xiu Xiu, Animal Collective and Radiohead only, but I would be surprised at myself if I didn't end up at least at Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, Holy Fuck, El Guincho, Why?, Sunset Rubdown and Stephen Malkmus between now and traipsing through Europe in July and August. Probably more too, depending on how quickly I get a job.
  • The whole righteous blogging thing seeped through to me from the Irish Blog Awards, which were admirably non-drawn out but could have done with Ham Sandwich and Dickie Rock doing a half-time show or something.
  • Darragh, who thinks the word cunt is too heavy to throw around, seems to actually like the blog, which makes about six people - the official point where I can claim to have an audience.
  • It's mostly just boredom though, the same reason I do anything.
Fun things you can hope to see:
  • Maybe a mix-tape. It will be a physical tape, but obviously I will put it up in mp3 format, maybe with a picture of the tape.
  • Tá sé ar intinn agam beagáinín blagadóireacht a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. Cén dochar a dheanfadh sé?
  • An ongoing lack of anything substantial other than me talking about gigs I was at.
As an aside, I think I accidentally told Aoife McIndie Hour that my blog was HiFi Popcorn last night, because I am an idiot. Aoife Mc, and Bobby, if you read this, I'm sorry and I have no explanation. It didn't even strike me until about twelve hours later that I'd done it. It's possibly the weirdest thing I've ever done. Tourettesy, even.

If I imagined saying that, then I'm even more weird. It's getting hard to separate dreams and reality.