Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Wailers return to Limerick

THROUGH death, legal battles, 250 million album sales and the acrimony that brings, the surviving member of Bob Marley’s original Wailers group is still touring, continuing to further the legacy of the reggae innovators.
This Thursday night The Wailers return to Limerick following a superb gig earlier in the year, plus a towering performance on the main stage at Electric Picnic in September.
Centred around Aston “Family Man” Barrett - reckoned to be one of the world’s finest bass players - this is the seminal Wailers line-up, not to be confused with other imitations.
Barrett and his deceased brother Carly, along with Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh made up The Wailers, and Barrett is continuing to perpetuate that mantle 40 years later.
Family Man and lead singer Elan Atias form the main axis of the current Wailers line-up, Atias sounding uncannily like Marley when the band visited Dolan’s in February and performed the seminal ‘Exodus’ album in full, Time magazine’s album of the 20th Century.
Atias was recruited in 1997 by former Wailers’ guitarist Al Anderson, who, together with Junior Marvin, also perform as the Wailers, but are described as a “rogue” band by Atias.
“There’s this rogue band that’s been going around saying they’re ‘The Original Wailers’ and they’re basically a cover band (with) guitarists that used to be in the band.
They’re going around saying they’re us, which is pretty funny,” Atias said in a recent interview. While Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh left the band in 1973, Family Man was ever present with Marley up to his death, to the point that he sued Marley's estate a couple of years ago, citing a right to royalties he was promised but never got.
He was unsuccessful in that bid, but together with new heir Atias, is preparing to release a new album under the Wailers title, featuring previously unused recordings by his drummer brother, Carly, discovered after his death.
“Family had a bunch of tapes of drum tracks made by his brother, Carly, before he died, “ said Atias.
“We started all these new tracks from them and then Family would lay down the bass and everybody would do their stuff.
“The whole idea is to bring the tracks to contemporary artists and other big artists from different genres to add their own vibes and write new lyrics to sing on top of this classic, Wailers-sounding material.”
The Wailers play in Dolan's Warehouse this Thursday night, doors 9pm. Support on the night comes from the local Roots Factory crew - get down early, bbq will kick the night off..

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Album reviews - Swell Season and Miike Snow

The Swell Season
‘Strict Joy’

THE ACCOMPANYING press notes with this album reveal it as documenting a time of “great change, tumult and progression”.
Given that Oscar winning duo Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova reached such highs and bottomed out to a point where their relationship buckled under the strain of its intensity, that might just be the understatement of the year.
Interestingly the duo remain friends and have produced a delightful record that echoes elements of that strain and break-up but does not focus on it, produced by Peter Katis, who has worked with The National and Interpol, an ideal background, one feels, for this project.
This is, for all intents and purposes, a Frames record, the likes of which we haven’t heard since seminal offerings Dance the Devil and For The Birds; with the addition of Irglova’s effortlessly gorgeous vocals and warmth, the perfect foil to Hansard’s sometime glum nature.
The delightful ‘In These Arms’ is an early highlight, the Czech ingénue’s piano twisting delicately and intricately among the Frames (almost all of them are here, so why not refer to them as such) moody brand of Irish rock.
‘The Rain’ is superb; Colm MacCon Iomaire’s goosebump-inducing violin screeching in the background, the song building to a soaring finish that recent albums Burn The Maps and The Cost never reached for the Irish band.
Irglova takes over on ‘Fantasy Man’, a lovely ditty of a song that evokes her memorable walk through the streets in Once singing “If You Want Me”.
The highlights come thick and fast as the album progresses; the bassy, up tempo High Horses stopping abruptly on the line “we’ve gone as far as we can go”, violin holding the note in anticipation; the epic ‘I Have Loved You Wrong’ burnishing with emotion; the banjo-driven ‘Love That Conquers’ evocative of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s ever-so gently countrified offerings; the gloriously downbeat ‘Back Broke’ finishing the album - “back broke and happy; cause you’re nearer to me” - in wonderful style.
A wonderful album, probably - and unfortunately - made better by the heartbreak suffered in its making. Fabulous.

Miike Snow
‘Miike Snow’
(Downtown Records)
THE DELIGHTFULLY bouncy electro-pop of opener ‘Animal’ on this album from Miike Snow is a good yardstick of the gems contained within; fizzy, euphoric and ever so-slightly Caribbean in flavour.
However, the warmth of this opening track is gradually replicated by an icy demeanour and aloofness throughout this record from Grammy-winning Swedish producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg who have teamed up with Brooklyn vocalist Andrew Wyatt to produce a record that screams of potential but falls somewhat short.
Capturing some of the melody of Vampire Weekend and wrapping it - or softening it - in subtle, gentle electro-pop rhythms was a genius idea from Karlsson and Winnberg, also known as ‘Bloodshy and Avant’, the team who produced Britney Spears’ Toxic and others for Madonna etc. Unfortunately, after the heights of Animal and the exceptional, soaring ‘Burial’, they seem to withdraw into their shells as the album progresses.
The electro-house beat of ‘Silvia’ is a case in point; well crafted and a delightful mix of piano and swirling beats, yet it is icy and opaque, lacking any connection with the listener.
Likewise the deep, atmospheric Prince-esque ‘Sans Soleil’, the ueber-dancy A Horse is Not a Home and the shimmering - yet soulless - new wave leanings of Plastic Jungle.
All of the above feel like an opportunity to blow the socks off the listener, albeit a failed one. The record is rescued by the aforementioned highlights, plus the off-kilter and energetic buzz of Black and Blue and the Passion Pit beat of Cult Logic - but it seems that these super-producers missed an opportunity to step out from the shadow of the mixing desk and leave themselves out there - thus making a record that narrowly fails to to meet its potential.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with Hudah of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

LIKE MANY people, when I saw the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. Nine guys, all from Chicago, touting battered brass instruments - tubas, trombones, trumpets - swaying and swinging as they performed their unique brand of tight, highly composed hip-hop/jazz instrumentalism.
Standing on a cold December day on Cruises Street last year, where 20-30 people gathered to see Barack Obama’s favourite band perform a taster before the Trinity Rooms gig that would come later, it became plain that their moniker is no fallacy - their playing very much hypnotic, as the name suggests.
Is this the most unique band in the world today?
The success the band has had in the last year would imply that they are; the eight sons of legendary Chicago jazz trumpeter and Sun Ra Arkestra founder member Kelan Phil Cohran, plus drummer Christopher Anderson, supporting and playing with Blur at Hyde Park in July, as well as Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, appearing on Jools Holland and releasing their debut album on Albarn’s record label.
Success and plaudits aside, to see these musicians perform live is to be literally hypnotised, an aura of telepathy surrounding them, a fact that Gabriel Hubert - aka ‘Hudah’ - puts down to the fact that they grew up living and breathing music.
We enjoy creating music - you have to fun, that is not the main element, but it helps,” says Hudah, on the phone from a Glaswegian hotel.
“The thing that makes our sound so unique is that we have been playing together since we were kids. We have been hearing these notes since before we were born. Our sound is more of a cosmic and spiritual connection than a physical connection - it almost can't be put into words, because it is bigger than our personal egos and feelings,” he adds.
The band are returning to Limerick this Sunday night for a very special early gig in Trinity Rooms, a pitstop on a whirlwind tour that is indicative of their growing popularity.
“In the last 20 days we have been in South Africa, Japan, Turkey, now we're in Scotland and then coming to Ireland,” says Hudah.
“We love coming to Ireland, it is a non stop party country, the people are very honest and true, you wear your hearts and souls on your sleeves and you receive that energy when you get there. The reception for us in Ireland has always been great and it can only grow. The more and more we come out the bigger the buzz grows.”
Asked what it is about the band that has seen them grow in popularity, the trumpeter is confident in his response.
“Overall we have a unique sound, style and brand and are a unique entity that grabs people when they don't want to be touched, it is something that you can't refuse. If you listen for two seconds, you are there until we let you go.
“We come from a strong family and our father taught us to believe in ourselves and knowing that it is something that only you can bring to the world, we have that sense definitely in our music, our approach to business, in every endeavour in our life.”
He adds: “We sacrifice a lot so that we can get our music out there, so we can be on top of the world at some time”.
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble play this Sunday night in Trinity Rooms nightclub, please note that this is an early show and doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster or directly from the Trinity Rooms.

Album reviews - Shakira and Seasick Steve

‘She Wolf’
(Sony Epic)
BEGINNING and ending an album with the same song, albeit in two different languages, is never a sign of a quality offering, and despite the opportunities I afforded this album to disprove my initial scepticism about it, well, suffice to say there was no ‘eureka’ moments on offer here.
Why someone would choose to name their album ‘She Wolf’ is beyond me, but maybe it was to allow the undoubtedly talented Shakira to demonstrate her embarrassing howl, which she does - several times, and in both languages.
This aside, the title track ain’t necessarily a bad offering, the jaunty guitar and heavy synth beat like a cross between the Gossip and CSS, the latter whom Shakira has mercilessly plundered, but it is the slick production and heavy orchestration that saves it from total ignominy. Unfortunately, proceedings peak at this point and rarely make much of an impression beyond that. Ok, the rat-tat beat of Did It Again, the Caribbean flavourings of Good Stuff, the faintly euphoric dance beats of Men In This Town and the tabla percussion and sitar-heavy Gypsy are clearly not the worst songs ever written - but that is probably all that could be said about them. Hilarity prevails when the ubiquitous Wyclef Jean turns up on the awful Spy, featuring the most blatant rip-off of the guitar hook from Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop we have ever heard - the poor man must be rolling in his grave.
The anodyne rock beat of Mon Amour is laughable and the aforementioned final track, in which Shakira sings She-Wolf in Spanish as ‘Loba’, complete with howls, is side-splittingly funny, as are much of the lyrics on this bizarre album. I’m being kind with two stars, clearly because Shakira sounds like she is on the verge of laughing her way through most of this album and is not taking herself too seriously. Worth a listen.
Seasick Steve
‘Man From Another Time’
YOU might have thought that the hobo-chic effortlessly practiced by Mr ‘Seasick’ Steve Wold would be wearing thin by this, his fourth album.
A self-declared “song and dance man”, Wold has carved out a decent career for himself on the strength of his hobo-blues, which draw heavily on his life experiences and utilise the most rag tag collection of instruments this side of the Mississippi.
Thankfully, the follow up to ‘I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left’ is excellent; Wold refusing to let the momentum drop from a meteoric rise in popularity that began with a by-now famed appearance on Jools Holland several years ago.
Festival appearances, tons of kudos and mucho album sales later and Wold is still singing about the everyday; his ‘Diddley Bo’, essentially a plank of wood with a coke can and a steel string, modelled in a lap-steel guitar-style, to which the opening track is devoted, sounding like Led Zeppelin covered in a broody Deep South batter and some superb drumming; ‘Big Green and Yeller’ in which Wold sings about a John Deere tractor; and the raw ‘Happy (To Have a Job)’ which is perhaps the most autobiographical song ever written - “I can’t stop what I’m doing, it’d be the death of me”.
The interesting thing about this album is that Wold takes the bulk of the songs down a notch or two and allows his impressive musicianship to come to the fore; the effortless strum of the ‘Banjo Song’ hears Wold croak and allow his voice to creak, uncaring how it sounds.
It is the truly superb ‘That’s All’ that is the centrepiece of this rich new vein of form Wold is demonstrating, the tongue-in-cheek sassiness of his earlier offerings replaced by an earnestness that is admirable.
He allows himself to cut loose, the chorus showing he can reach the high notes, while the song grooves along in a skiffle beat, Wold almost Cobain-esque in his drawl, “I wanna fly like a bird over these walls / never to be heard from again”.
Superb. RATING 4/5

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pink to play in Thomond Park next June

THE LIMERICK Leader can exclusively reveal that American superstar singer Pink is to play in Thomond Park in June of next year.
Pink - real name Alecia Beth Moore - has sold in the region of 30 million albums worldwide and is the first act to be confirmed for next summer’s gigs in the €40m stadium.
The American singer will bring her theatrical ‘Funhouse Summer Carnival’ show to Limerick’s Thomond Park on Saturday, June 20 2010.
Aiken Promotions confirmed to the Limerick Leader that the self styled rock chick will perform a huge outdoor show in Thomond Park next June, and while a spokesperson denied that there were other acts already booked for next summer, the Limerick Leader understands that up to four dates have been provisionally booked in the stadium, which memorably played host to Elton John and Rod Stewart this year.
Pink will play three open air shows in Ireland next summer, with shows at Belfast’s King’s Hall Complex and Dublin’s RDS preceding the Thomond Park gigs. T
he news will come as a considerable boost to the local economy, as a recent survey conducted by BDO Simpson Xavier on behalf of Munster Rugby determined that the Elton John concert generated €9.9 million for the local economy, with 13 local hotels reporting 100 per cent occupancy. It is believed that the Rod Stewart concert had a similar impact.
While Aiken and Thomond Park undoubtedly played safe with the first series of gigs, they are aiming for a younger market with the selection of Pink, who has sold a massive number of tickets worldwide, including 58 sold out arena shows in Australia and several sold out shows in Ireland this year.
The Pennsylvania-born performer released her first album “Can't Take Me Home” in 2000, while 2002’s follow-up Missundaztood sold an estimated 13 million copies worldwide. Her present album “Funhouse” has also clocked up massive sales around the world, with lead single “So What” taking Pink to her first Billboard number one American chart success.
Tickets for the concert will go on sale from Ticketmaster outlets and Empire Music on O’Connell Street next Friday, October 23, at 9am.
General admission tickets will be priced at €58.30, while seated tickets will be available for €63.20.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Graffiti to be displayed in Limerick School of Art and Design

THE GRAFFITI works completed at the recent international graffiti session which took place in Limerick Skatepark last week are to be exhibited in Limerick School of Art and Design from next Monday.
The “Just Writing My Name” graffiti jam - the first international graffiti event to take place in Ireland - attracted 20 artists from across Europe who showcased their abilities on special wooden boards erected for the occasion.
A large crowd gathered for the event, which was held on October 3 last. Two of the world’s most famous graffiti artists, Klark Kent and Cantwo, were among those who attended the event, which was hosted by the O’Connell Street-based graffiti shop South Central LK and Montana Cans, a European spray-paint supplier.
Nick Bromfield, local musician and graffiti artist, who helped organise the event, said the resulting works were “world standard art” and expressed his delight at how successfully the event was run.
He explained that the individual pieces were “very bright, very colourful” and that the style was important.
"In graffiti terms it is called writing - a lot of letter styles that would be very distinctive, every artist has a different style,” explained Nick.
The pieces will now be installed in the Church Gallery, on LSAD’s Clare Street campus, a move that local Councillor Tom Shortt - who supported the festival - said was “significant”.
“I am happy to see the works going into an exhibition so people will have a second chance to see the work and see the finished products,” explained Cllr Shortt.
“Hopefully this will continue the debate about youth culture and maybe get people interested and get a designated and dedicated space to this type of art. It is a significant project and important that it came to Limerick and shows that culturally, there is great activity and vitality in the city.”
The Labour councillor dismissed recent calls by a fellow councillor that banning spray paint was a way to combat so-called random graffiti.
“I know the problems, I have condemned random graffiti and tried to steer it into a positive, structured situation and this is the way forward. Banning these products is not the way forward and is oppressive; we should liberate young people by supporting them,” he added.
The graffiti exhibition will open on Monday, October 19 next at 7.30pm and run until Friday, October 23.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Don Juan In Hell" opens in the Belltable

I ATTENDED the opening night of the latest Limerick Theatre Hub venture last night, Don Juan In Hell, by GB Shaw and directed by Killaloe man Duncan Molly.
The piece boasts both superb staging and performances - particularly Limerick man Darragh Bradshaw's impressive (statuesque?) puppetry performance.
There is some serious, meaty subject matter in here, but a delightful witty strand permeates the philosophical debate that takes place, primarily between Don Juan and the Devil.
It would be superb if local audiences came out and supported this play, which runs in the Belltable until October 24.
See preview article below.

LIMERICK THEATRE audiences will be transported to “hell and back again” this week as the entertaining and much anticipated ‘Don Juan In Hell’ opens in the Belltable on Wednesday night.

The piece, the latest in the Limerick Theatre Hub venture, deals with infamous literary character Don Juan and his travails in hell - and is based on the play written by famous Irish author George Bernard Shaw.

It promises to be a hilarious and visually arresting piece, given the ambitious set design and puppetry, created by Limerick man Darragh Bradshaw.

Killaloe man Duncan Molloy directs a cracking cast of actors including Martin McGuire - well-known from his work on The Tudors and The Clinic - as well as Fair City regulars Nathan Gordon and Eilish O’Donnell.

“What we are trying to do is not have it as a classical, ‘ye-olde’ play and instead try and look at it from a different point of view,” explained Duncan.

“It is not strictly an adaptation because we are not drastically changing the setting of it or anything, we are just trying to play around with it and have a bit of fun with it,” he added.

The premise of the story is that Don Juan has been dragged to hell by the his former lover’s father, who he killed in a duel.

When she in turn dies after a long and happy life, she awakens to the appalling realisation that she is also in hell, with Don Juan, who is by now great friends with her father, who likes to pop down occasionally from heaven. If it sounds like a romp, that is what Duncan had in mind.

“The idea is that if we all could do whatever we want it would be grand, but what's the point? If we are not going to get punished for doing bad, then why do good at all? It goes from there,” laughed Duncan.
“The main thing is, it is a bit of a laugh - Shaw is very, very funny, whether you read him on a page or aloud. So we are just trying to bring that out, have a few gags and a bit of a laugh on stage,” said Duncan.

Don Juan In Hell opens in the Belltable @ 36 Cecil Street this Wednesday at 8pm. It runs until October 24 and tickets are available on 061-319866.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speakeasy Jazz returns to Shannon Rowing Club this Thursday

SHANNON ROWING Club has been creating a mini-revolution in recent months, playing host to the charming Speakeasy Jazz soirees that are calling the venue home. This Thursday Speakeasy are back with a very special October gig, details of which are in the article below.
THE POPULAR ‘Speakeasy Jazz’ night, held every month in Shannon Rowing Club, is to experiment with an exciting collaboration this week as poetry meets jazz for an innovative venture.
Speakeasy have hosted regular nights over the past couple of months, successfully bringing the best in local jazz to Limerick audiences.
For their October gig, taking place this Thursday, the organisers are to present an exciting collaboration between local poets, the finest local jazz musicians, all accompanied by some arresting visual art.
The Space Modulator Trio of Bart Kiely, Peter Hanagan and Dave Irwin will join forces with three of Limerick's finest poets, Ciaran O'Driscoll, Mark Wheelan and Peadar Clancy, while this exciting collaboration will be accompanied by some amazing visual art in the form of 'Tryptich' by Alexis Clancy.
“It promises to be an interesting evening,” laughed organiser Niamh McNamara this Tuesday. “The whole idea behind the Speakeasy Jazz nights was to promote Limerick artists and to encourage collaboration between them and get people together to create new art,” explained Niamh.
“The Cuisle International Poetry Festival is on this week so we thought jazz and poetry would go very well together - traditionally jazz and poetry complement each other; jazz can really go with any art form and we are inviting artists to use our space as a forum for collaboration.”
The Space Modulator Trio is made up of a trio of well-known local musicians in Hanagan, Irwin and Kiely, but they rarely - if ever - play together, making this a unique occasion.
“They are well-known around town but don’t often play together, so it should be interesting. They will be improvising the music themselves, which will fit perfectly with the poetry - they will have to find the tone within the poems themselves so it should be interesting,” said Niamh.
Well known local actor Norma Lowney will also perform on the night, accompanied by Sarah Lynch on DJ-duties, while House/Jazz musician and DJ Peter Burns will finish out the evening in style.
Speakeasy also have a solid line-up of gigs stretching into the New Year, so keep an eye on the Limerick Chronicle for updates.
The October ‘Speakeasy Jazz’ night takes place this Thursday, October 15 in Shannon Rowing Club, with doors opening around 9pm.

Album reviews - Muse and Newton Faulkner

‘The Resistance’
(Warner Music)

THIS album has been sitting on my desk for the past couple of weeks, just in my sight line, pleading with me to take it home and listen to its undoubted highlights.
The reason for my procrastination? Muse are simply a hard band to like.
They are without doubt one of the biggest bands in the world at this moment, their live shows unrivalled in terms of thrills and spills and sheer magnitude. On record however, they have struggled to replicate their massive sound to my satisfaction, with 2003’s Absolution the exception to the rule.
Interestingly, Muse seemed to have toned down the theatrics on this album, the woozy space rock of their earlier efforts replaced by a taut and fine direction.
Muse have gained a status as world leaders in epic, post-classical rock and fans will not be disappointed with this offering, but perhaps new fans might appreciate it more.
The arpeggio guitar treats on Resistance, the title track, are faintly reminiscent of Radiohead, at least until the very-Muse like piano kicks in and singer Matt Bellamy starts warbling. But there is a restraint here that is refreshing, the band abruptly breaking into territory more normally inhabited by the Who for the refrain - “it could be wrong, it could be wrong, it could never last”. Opener Uprising is admittedly less restrained, Battles like guitars and Dr. Who esque klaxon calls stuffed into its body.
The New Order synthesizer beat of Undisclosed Desires sees the band display a previously unheard harmonising and emotion, and it is impressive.
But the biggest eye-opener is the Queen sound on the opus United States of Eurasia/Collateral Damage, a grandiose clarion call to arms.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Muse album without some form of overblown opus - the end of the album concluding with the three part Exogenesis Symphony - parts one, two and three, which can only be described as, a bit like Bellamy, totally barmy and almost existing in Star Wars territory (so much for restraint) but also absolutely superb.
Looks like Muse might have one more fan.

Newton Faulkner
‘Rebuilt by Humans’

BEARDED, dreadlocked troubadour Newton Faulkner returns with ‘Rebuilt by Humans’, the follow-up - we are told by the sticker on the front cover - to the million selling 2007 debut Hand Built By Robots.
The success of that album owed much to Faulkner’s - real name Sam - interesting guitar playing abilities, live performances and, cynically, the presence of a admittedly rather decent cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop.
Watching Faulkner at the recent Cois Fharraige festival it is clear that, cycnism aside, this guy is a superb musician, capable of producing full band-like performances by himself.
The soft twinkling guitar ‘Intro’ opens the album and segues effortlessly into the super-cool ‘Badman’, an early highlight, Faulkner’s funky rhythm’s driving the song.
At first listen follower ‘I Took It Out On You’ seems to stray dangerously close to boyband, X-factor territory, but is rescued by Faulkner’s engaging, gravely vocals and well-crafted musicianship.
Faulkner clearly likes his interludes, the 30 second snatch of ‘Hello’ preceding the emotional ‘If This Is It’ - another close skirmish with Ronan Keating territory, which thankfully comes through the other side owing to the presence of heavy orchestration and Faulkner’s howling vocals.
Other highlights are the effortlessly impressive and dark, didgeridoo driven Resin On My Heart Strings, the jazzy Let’s Get Together, Faulkner sounding eerily like Tom Baxter and the delicate This Town.
Unfortunately the album is let down by ill-advised efforts like Lipstick Jungle and the fact that, at 19 tracks, it is simply too long and too near soppy, wind in the hair ballads for my liking. RATING 2/5

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought play October Belltable Sessions

OVER the course of a genial chat with Newcastle West man Emmet Scanlan, the singer-songwriter expresses some regret that he never formed his band in Limerick, instead choosing to pick up sticks and relocate to Galway, where his band ‘What The Good Thought’ were formed in 2004.
Casting an ever so slightly green eye over the buzzing music scene in his home town, he subtly displays a slight hankering for the connections between the various acts in Limerick.
However, the strength of his band lies in the fact that he has assembled an international cast with members hailing from Italy to Sweden, leading to a dynamic and diverse sound that is ear-catching.
“Limerick is a place that has a really good music scene, I was almost envious that I didn't start the band here because there seems to be a lot of really good bands and there is a good connection between them,” says Emmet.
He cites the recent ‘Tonelist’ collection of local artists as proof of this “connection”.
“That sort of thing doesn't happen in Galway as much, in Limerick people seem to come out and support bands and I would love to be able to play at home more often,” he adds.
Formed in 2004 around the Tig Neachtain pub in Galway where the Newcastle West man found himself after a period of travel, Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought are a delightfully diverse five-piece featuring Alan Preims, percussionist from Italy, classical guitarist Peter Akerstrom from Sweden, Scottish cellist Nicola Geddes and Irish bass player Cathal Doherty. The group released debut album ‘Hands’ in March, a collection of evocative soundscapes filled with lush instrumentation.
Think Spanish guitar fused with light fingered tabla percussion, gorgeous cello parts infused with Scanlan’s Anthony Keidis-esque vocals. In a word, the international scope of this band has transformed and moulded Scanlan’s undoubtedly strong songs; think of One Day International and you wouldn’t be far off.
“I played in bands over the years with guys that I grew up with, but we all grew up listening to the same stuff - so the ideas were coming from more or less the same source,” says Scanlan.
“But all the lads in the band now, the type of music and artist that they would be into would be quite different from what I would ever have heard of and it has opened me up to new music and opened up a lot of ideas and styles, which is great.
“The formation of the band was all very much coincidence and when it seemed to be turning out that way I was delighted. I was working in a bar in Galway and I had been travelling for a year and writing songs, but I wanted to get an original band together to showcase the songs - I didn't know what I was doing really, except that I wanted to get a bunch of musicians together. I got to know these guys through working in the bar and bombarded them and that is how it all began,” he explains.
The result has been tours of the States with the Saw Doctors, invitations to the International Folk Alliance Festival in Memphis and positive reviews of their eclectic debut album.
This summer also saw the band play support to Femi Kuti in the Big Top in Galway and as part of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The band are now gearing up to play nearly 20 dates from here to Christmas and are hoping to record some new material for release early next year.
First, they play at the Belltable Sessions this Thursday night - a rare hometown gig for Emmet to get his teeth into.
“The idea of the Belltable sessions seems to suit our style, it will be nice because we have worked over the last while on having our set to cater to the environment we play in, so it is nice to be able to do both larger, louder venues and smaller, intimate venues. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought play the Belltable Sessions this Thursday night, with support from Kev Fox, Sí and Beautiful Rooms. Doors at 8pm.

Delorentos - You Can Make Sound album review

‘You Can Make Sound’

AGAINST all the odds, Delorentos have produced a follow-up to 2007’s excellent debut, In Love With Detail. Following a ‘will-they, won’t-they’ shaky period in the life of the Dublin band, the quartet are set to release You Can Make Sound this Friday, amidst a quiet sigh of relief in several quarters.
The news that the band were to split at the beginning of the year was greeted with universal shock in Irish music circles, the Malahide band seen as one of the stronger outfits on the go.
The band, who were feted here and particularly abroad as the leading light among modern Irish rock bands, all jangly guitar hooks and killer choruses - declared that lead singer Ronan Yourell was to leave the band.
This followed a period where the band suffered record company setbacks and were, by their own admission, “burnt out”. However, before Yourell left, there was the matter of recording another album and playing some farewell gigs, and, as that progressed, he decided the output was too strong to walk away from.
It seems Irish super-producer Gareth Mannix was the glue that kept this band together, guiding them through a “cathartic process” and allowing them to re-discover their love for recording and playing music, and You Can Make Sound is the result.
Bassist Níal Conlan told this reporter that the album would contain more depth, reflect broader influences and concentrate more on structure as a result.
Although they have moved slightly from the more generic, 4X4 stadium rock that impressed on their debut, Delorentos have not gone and reinvented the wheel on this album, mining influences as broad as early Bloc Party, Editors and particularly, The Bravery.
Several songs on this album sound uncannily like that New York band, notably the opener Sanctuary, Hallucinations and Leave Me Alone.
The catchy riffs on Secret, the first single released from the album, make it more of a Delorentos song, and you will be doing well not to be humming the chorus for days after hearing it.
There is a nice change of pace on You Say You’ll Never Love Her and Leave Me Alone, delicate, emotional songs both - the latter on which Yourell sings “it’s a little too late for us to change”.
We don’t agree, as these songs demonstrate, Delorentos can take the tempo down, a fear that presented itself after their first album, which was mostly pepped up on youthful exuberance. The engaging Editorial and Body Cold are somewhat let down by Let The Light Go Out and the ill-advised Soulmate, but the album finishes on a high with the piano-driven, harmony filled I Remember.
However, it is the penultimate track, which the album is named after, that impresses the most, the distinctive rhythm and effortless cool of You Can Make Sound reinforcing the notion that this is one of the best Irish bands around. Let’s hope they can stay together for album number three.
Download: Sanctuary, You Can Make Sound

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

'Fall Prom' for Limerick-based charity Worthy Cause Ireland takes place this Saturday

THE FOURTH annual ‘Fall Prom’ is to take place this Saturday night, raising much needed money for the Limerick-based charity Worthy Cause Ireland which raises money for projects in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Last year’s event, which is organised by Limerick event management company ‘Great Friday’, raised over €3,500 for a Self Help community centre the Cambodian city.
The Limerick based charity was established by brothers Mark and David Quinn, from Castletroy, who aim to help families educate their children in the South-East Asian country. There will be a “circus theme” to this year’s event, according to Mark.
“There will be a variety of fire performers, stilt walkers, a magician, tarot readers and a candy floss machine,” said Mark, adding that acclaimed Dublin band ‘Funzo’ will perform on the night. Limerick TD Jan O’Sullivan will be on hand to cut the ribbon on the evenings festivities, which will take place in the Pery Hotel.
The organisers have dubbed the event “a charity ball for twenty-somethings”, and as such have reduced prices to reflect the straitened economic times.
“The traditional sit down meal has been scrapped in favour of making the tickets more accessible to the general public,” explained Mark.
“We have also lowered the ticket price by twenty percent in view of the public being more value conscious at the moment, and you really can't get better than a mere €20 for this fantastic event,” added Mark.
Hundreds turned out for last year’s successful event and the charity are keen to thank their sponsors Best Western Hotels, Great Friday Event Management, CWB and Carphone Warehouse Parkway who have donated a laptop as the grand prize in the raffle to be held on the night. Worthy Cause was started three years ago by the Quinn brothers and a number of Limerick locals who had an interest in fundraising and relieving poverty and providing education and scholarship programmes in Siem Reap.
The Fall Prom will take place this Saturday, October 10 in the Pery Hotel, for further details or tickets please email or call 085-2822282.
Tickets are available in the Glentworth Hotel and the Brazen Head.
(pic copyright Mark Lyons)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Orbital to play Tripod gig in November

JUST announced, Orbital to play first indoor Irish show since 2001 at Dublin’s Tripod on Friday 13th November - eek, Friday 13th - with tickets going on sale tomorrow.
The show will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut single “Chime” and follows their headline slot at Electric Picnic last month, which was greeted with mixed reviews.
This reporter found their set a bit lifeless and montonous, the glorious 'Belfast' aside, which was as good as any moment from the weekend.
However, a legion of electro fans will await this much anticipated indoor gig in Tripod - which might well hit the heights of their many fabled live gigs from years gone by.
According to the lads this is not an exercise in nostalgia:
“It’s not an exercise in nostalgia at all, the time just seems right,” says Phil. “They came to us with the offer, and everything just seemed to fall into place. Also the timing seems good: 20 years of being together.”
“Audience reaction is part of the process,” Paul explains, “It really becomes like a friendly football match between you and the crowd. That was always one of our strong points - and for people to say that about an electronic band is a real honour, because it’s the one genre of music that’s normally crap live.
“We’ve got 15 years of active service, making songs,” Paul says. “If you boil that down to a 90-minute festival set you should get something thoroughly good from beginning to end. Let’s put some fun back into it.”
Tickets are €42.50/49.50 (inc. booking fee) and available from Ticketmaster and usual outlets. Tickets go on sale at 9am tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gig for Ger McDonnell Memorial Fund this Saturday night in Dolan's Warehouse

Gig for Ger McDonnell this Saturday night in Dolan's, featuring a plethora of local bands, all in aid of the fund established in his name. See below. Support if you can.

A GROUP of Limerick bands are to come together for a gig in aid of the Gerard McDonnell Memorial Fund this Saturday.

Ger, the Kilcornan mountaineer who was the first Irishman to summit K2, died tragically on his descent a little over a year ago and his family and friends have set up the fund to assist the children of those Pakistani and Nepalese climbers who also lost their lives on K2: Jehan Baig, Karim Meherban, Jumik Bhote and Pasang Bhote.

In conjunction with The Mountain Fund charity, the fund will sponsor these children throughout their childhood years, helping with their education and medical care. Local musician Patrick O’Brien, of the band Last Days of Death Country, was a friend of the gregarious Ger and was keen to organise a gig in aid of the charity in his name.

Five well known bands from the Limerick scene have come together to play in Dolan’s Warehouse, and each have a connection with Ger.

“These are bands which would be known on the Limerick music scene,” said Patrick, adding that Ger was, himself, interested in music and had his own band in Alaska.

“I would have introduced Ger to these bands and he loved them,” Patrick added. “There is a very important connection with Ger in all of this. And I believe it will be a fantastic night. It will be music straight through from 9.30pm.”

Joining the excellent Last Days of Death Country are; Walter Mitty and the Realists, who have just locally released their superb debut album Green Light Go and are preparing to make their way to Canada, where they have a large following; Windings, featuring Steve Ryan of Giveamanakick fame, but now well established in their own right; local pop-rock band Supermodel Twins, of whom great things are expected when they release an album and Ennis based artist Vertigo Smyth, who won a prize at the Galway Film Fleadh for his song Comfort Me.

“It’s a fantastic lineup,” Patrick enthused, “and everything is going to the fund. Please help us help them, the children, and come support this great fund. Even if you can’t make it put it on your Bebo, Facebook, whatever websites to get the word out about it.”

The gig will take place in Dolan’s Warehouse this Saturday. Tickets cost €10 at the door or can be bought online. Donations can also be made to the fund by buying tickets. For full details on the fund go to

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New comedy club launches this evening - Last Laughs in the Trinity Rooms

FATHER Ted fans rejoice; the Last Laugh Comedy Club is aiming to sate Craggy Island fans with the launch of a new series of comedy nights, beginning with a Fr. Ted special this Thursday night.

The Trinity Rooms-hosted comedy night launches this Thursday and welcomes Fr. Ted favourites Joe Rooney, who memorably played Fr. Damien "Damo" Lennon in the ‘Think Fast, Father Ted’ episode of the superb series, as well as Patrick McDonnell, who played ‘Eoin Mc Love’ and Kevin Gildea who played ‘Fr. Cave’ in the ‘Flight into Terror’ episode.

The Last Laugh Comedy Club is, according to Trinity Rooms’ supremo Joe Clarke, the “third incarnation” of long-running comedy series in the club, which most recently took the form of the popular ‘Schnitzel’ comedy nights.

Joe is hoping that the Last Laugh proves to be as popular, and has assembled a very fine line-up of comedians to entertain over the coming winter.

First up is the ‘Further Ted’ launch party, featuring three of the series’ most popular peripheral characters, as well as being firmly established comedians in their own right.

Rooney in particular, has become one of the country’s most popular stand-up MCs, most recently featuring in Killinaskully and The Liffey Laugh on RTE Two.

Looking ahead, Joe assured the Limerick Leader that the strength of the line-ups will continue to be as consistent.

“We’ll have Ardal O’Hanlon for his first Limerick show in 12 years, Kevin McAleer for his first Limerick show in ten years, as well as Jason Byrne, PJ Gallagher, Jarlath Regan and Maeve Higgins and more - there is plenty there,” said Joe.

Looks like Trinity Rooms might have the last laugh on comedy for the foreseeable future, so be sure to get down there early.

The ‘Last Laugh’ Comedy Club launches this Thursday night in Trinity Rooms. Doors are at 7.30pm and tickets are €12 from Trinity Rooms, ULSU, MISU and Empire Music.