Wednesday, March 31, 2010
IN A sign of their growing national profile, comedic Limerick rappers The Rubberbandits last week launched the line-up for this year’s Electric Picnic festival, which features a reformed Roxy Music, Massive Attack and LCD Soundsystem as headliners.
The assembled media were clearly bemused by the duo from Limerick, who recently became the latest You Tube sensation, clocking up close on 40,000 views for their tribute to Limerick’s former Defence Minister, “Song for Willie O’Dea”.
The Rubberbandits performed their first ever live version of the song to a packed Crawdaddy venue for the launch, but earlier posed with models for the press to launch the impressive line-up for the Stradbally held music and arts festival.
The Limerick duo were the only act asked to perform at the launch and are booked to appear at the festival for a second year running, after upwards of a thousand people crammed into a tent to see their performance last year.
Speaking after they performed in Dublin, the ‘Bandits said they were “delighted” to be playing at the Picnic, and said that their first ever live performance of their Willie O’Dea-inspired song “went down a storm”.
“The Rubberbandits are delighted to be playing Electric Picnic, we are going to bring some culture - some Limerick culture - to a festival that only has Poxy Music and L-S-D Soundsystem on the line-up,” said Rubberbandit ‘Mr. Chrome’ after the gig.
“It's the highlight of the summer, drinking cans, watching beoirs - the food is only ok, but we can’t wait to go back,” added the comedic rapper.
The duo have captured the public’s imagination with a succession of hilarious songs, including “Bag of Glue” and their EP “Drawing Pictures of Each Other Smoking Fags”, which is on sale in Empire Music. They will play a hometown “festival gig” in Limerick in June.
Other acts announced for Electric Picnic include Public Image Ltd (Pil), featuring Johnny Lydon of the Sex Pistols, Leftfield, Hot Chip, Mumford and Sons, Jonsi from Sigur Ros, Gil Scott-Heron and Irish acts such as The Frames, Villagers, Redneck Manifesto and Imelda May. Tickets are on sale now from Ticketmaster outlets, at a cost of €240.
Friday, March 26, 2010
IT IS RARE that a new release from a staunchly independent Irish band will cause a frisson of excitement, but The Redneck Manifesto are no ordinary band.
Starved of an album from the collective of Irish musicians for the past six years, fans of the Manifesto could well be forgiven for thinking the best live band in the country had put up shop and returned to their day jobs.
Mervyn Craig, Matthew Bolger, Niall Byrne, Richard Egan and Neil O'Connor return with their first album since 2004’s I Am Brazil and first release since the 2006 EP Seven Stabs - and boy, is it a cracker.
Formed in the late 90s, these guys have been at the forefront of the Irish indie scene for well over ten years, but because of their relative inactivity in recent years, may have slipped from public consciousness.
As a result, returning after recent excellent instrumental releases on the Irish scene - Super Extra Bonus Party, Halfset and And So I Watch You From Afar to take just three that this album evokes - it could be forgotten just how innovative Redneck Manifesto were, and still are. Memorable gigs in these parts from the debut album Thirty Six Strings era of 2001 still has a legion of dedicated fans for the Manifesto in Limerick, and tells just how much of an impact their music made when everyone else was listening to guitar slinging singer-songwriters.
All five members of the instrumental band have been busy in the intervening period between releases on their own solo projects, from Egan’s Choice winning persona Jape to Neil O’Connor’s excellent Somadrome alter-ego, and it seems the quintet have each taken something from their own projects and added it to the mix here.
Recorded in Dave Odlum’s Black Box Studios in France last year, this is an effervescent and varied album that leans in different directions, and sees the Manifesto crucially capturing some of their live energy on record, coupled with the band pushing themselves in “new and creative ways”, to quote themselves.
Modern instruments, like the andromeda synth, have been processed through old vintage effects boxes to create a modern-sounding electro element to their at times post-rock wigouts - to startling effect on album opener Black Apple, which is a breath-taking, subversive, teeth-chattering opener.
The miltary-style, krautrock influenced drumming of Drum Drum features screeching guitars, but is immediately followed by the shimmering electro-soundscapes of Little Nose, which is underpinned by Egan’s bass and fizzing electro beats.
The almost Vampire Weekend-esque Tomb Of The Dudes couples jaunty guitar lines with Afrobeat drumming, and is like one half of the playful, gentle album finisher Cloud Beard.
While the lads like to deploy their guitars and drums to deep effect at times throughout the album - like the two minute blast of Hex - it is when they allow the electro-sounds to come through, that this album reaches its heights.
The warped synths, dancey rhythms, and joyous, chiming guitars of Rubber Up, make that song an album highlight for us.
As they say themselves, “it still sounds like TRM, but we’ve never sounded as good on record before”.
We wholeheartedly agree.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
This is a very rare appearance in Limerick for the Cork based virtuoso, following on from his appearance at Africa Day last year, which - although played in the pouring rain - lifted the spirits of this reporter and those lucky enough to witness Tsumbu’s eclectic blend of rumba, jazz and flamenco inspired African rhythms, complete with lyrics in his native Lingala.
Tsumbu is touring Ireland on his 'Song of the Nations' tour, to plug his most recent album of the same name, but is taking a very special detour to play for the Speakeasy night, and what a unique one it promises to be.
“He is brilliant,” gushed Niamh McNamara, organiser of the twice-monthly jazz night, “We are lucky to get him. He is touring his album at the moment, but he wasn't originally supposed to come to Limerick and it is a bit of a de-tour for him, so we are very lucky to get him - he is happy to be spreading the music as well I think.”
Tsumbu won’t have his full band for the rare Limerick appearance, but will have a percussionist and strings, but this toned-down accompaniment means that those that venture to the gig will witness his astonishing vocal and guitar-playing abilities up close and personal - think a little bit of Led Zeppelin mixed with Rodrigo y Gabriela, washed down with Tinariwen’s African melodies and quirks.
“We are very excited - it will be totally different to any of the other gigs we have had down in the club and it is great to get a different type of music coming to Limerick as well, so we are delighted,” said Niamh.
Tsumbu moved to Ireland in 2004 where he made an instant impact on the music scene, forming bands such as Sumu, Jazzmu and Motema.
He plays a range of music that stretches from contemporary versions of Congolese traditional music from the 1930s & 40s to modern jazz, and has played with the likes of Kila, The Wailers, Horace Andy from Massive Attack, and Cameroon virtuoso bass player Richard Bona.
Of his mix of styles, he says simply: “I don't mix things, it is just what I do. I've been influenced by those things and they come out that way. I like to bounce off ideas. I like people to push me. I like to be challenged as well.”
He adds: “The great thing I think for me is playing and meeting people all along - I still keep meeting people”.
Niwel Tsumbu plays the Speakeasy Jazz night in Shannon Rowing Club this Thursday night, doors 9.30pm.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
One act definitely playing at this year's Picnic are The Rubberbandits, who played in UL last night as part of Charity (Rag) Week and confirmed, in their inimitable style, that they will be playing the Stradbally fest, and are in fact playing at the launch today/tonight in Dublin. Whoop!
For more, stay with On The Beat - we'll be back in a couple of hours with the line-up..
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
"Hey everybody, the album leaked, and we wanted you to be able to hear it from us," says a message on the website.
"We wanted to offer it as a free download but that didn't make sense to anyone but us," it adds.
An early reaction to the album is that is differs greatly from their multi-million selling debut Oracular Spectacular, particularly the pyschedelic-spaceiness of Someone's Missing, and the Beach-Boys influenced, flute-containing (I kid you not) Flash Delirium.
A more psychedelic offering it appears, at the very least. Nice.
Friday, March 19, 2010
The full line-up will be revealed here next Wednesday, so be sure and check-in..
However, those lovely people behind the Body and Soul area at Electric Picnic have announced that they are to hold their own festival in June in Co. Meath - which sounds fab, and we will be there with bells on. For more info, see below..
THE ORGANISERS of the Body and Soul area at the Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally - quite literally the beating heart of the festival - have decided to host a ‘special gathering’ to celebrate the summer solstice in June. The Body and Soul Solstice Gathering will take place in the beautiful surrounds of Ballinlough Castle, Co. Meath on June 19-20, and with capacity capped at 1,500 and camping available, promises to be an intimate event.
The line-up is good too, featuring Four Tet, Jape, !!! (aka Chk Chk Chk) Dr Alex Paterson, Crystal Fighters, Voice of the Seven Thunders, Gaudi, Kormac’s Big Band, and many more to be announced.
There will also be electronic acts, street theatre, acoustic jams, a healing area, a permaculture garden, a soul kids area, visual arts, workshops, hot tubs, late night cabarets and a masquerade ball with a moon lit orchestra under the stars, according to the organisers. The festival will finish with a “fire ceremony in tribute to the festival theme Phoenix Rising”.
Tickets for the festival went on sale last Saturday at the early bird price of €99. For more see here.
Last April Fred became the first ever band to play in the newly developed Thomond Park stadium when they played before the Munster and Ospreys Heineken Cup quarter-final, and, although based in Cork, proudly boast a Limerick man among their ranks - bass player Jamin O’Donovan, from Caherdavin Lawn.
While we lay claim to one of the country’s best young bands, Fred get about their business with a smile on their faces, playing some anthemic and good old rock and roll, their recent album Go God Go being one of the best releases in recent years on these shores.
Jamin took some time away from recording to speak to On the Beat this week, telling us how much he was looking forward to playing “at home” in Limerick.
“We are busy recording, at this very minute actually, I am just taking a break from it and lying down on the couch,” the affable O’Donovan told us. “At the minute we have written and recorded three songs, we kind of write and record as we go - and there are a load of ideas on the go. It seems like a progression from where we left off last time, similar but different songs - and, better, I would hope,” he laughed.
The band are “talking to a couple of labels” about releasing the follow-up to Go God Go, and are as yet unsure when it will be released, but they will be playing them for fans in Limerick this weekend.
“We will be playing the new songs in Limerick. We are not doing many gigs really, just Limerick and Dublin - we had kind of ruled it out while we were recording the album,” said Jamin. “I love playing in Limerick - it is home.. Limerick is, without a doubt, the best,” he laughed.
With a tour of the UK and Germany coming up in April, the band are gearing up to hit the road again. Go God Go is doing well for them in Canada and America, where they have a publisher, and recently missed out on a big ad campaign, albeit to a little known band called The Arcade Fire.
“We were delighted to be second placed to Arcade Fire - we are not about the money, we are just about the 'almost' glory,” laughed Jamin.
Fred play in Dolan’s Warehouse this Friday, with special guests Return to Sender and Loaded Kings.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
TRACING THE evolution of modern music’s first virtual band is an interesting one; Gorillaz - the brainchild of Blur’s Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett - began as a reaction to the mind-numbing ‘hell’ of MTV, and two albums later have a combined total of 15 million album sales.
Thus, the third offering from this innovative, genre-defying and constantly evolving project - around which the effervescent Albarn is the only real constant - was always going to be one to sit up and take notice of.
But here, after the larger-than-life, hip-hop/dub influenced self-titled debut and its follow-up Demon Days, which included the smash singles Feel Good Inc, Dare and Dirty Harry, Albarn has gone beyond joking around with a needle-poking side project, and brought his full talents to bear on Gorillaz third album 'Plastic Beach'.
He has also assembled possibly the most impressive list of collaborators in modern music history, including Snoop Dog, Lou Reed, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, De La Soul, Little Dragon and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, well-known and loved in these parts following several superb gigs last year.
Also thrown into the mix with startling effect are The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music, who, along with British rappers Kano and Bashy, transform what could have been a disastrous collaboration to one of the highlights - a graceful and light opening by the orchestra allowing the grime artists to do their thing against a faintly Tetris-type sound.
If it sounds beguiling, that's because it is.
The guests add a weight to this album that is intoxicating; particularly Bobby Womack, who apparently collapsed from the effort of recording his unscripted, freestlye offering, and whom injects a measure of soul to Stylo, which also features Mos Def; the deliciously warped Some Kind of Nature, which features Lou Reed’s nasally tinged timbre as a wonderful juxtaposition to Albarn’s soaring, falsetto vocals.
The collaborations with Swedish electro band Little Dragon - fronted by Japanese signer Yukimi Nagano - are also among the highlights, particularly the graceful Empire Ants, which swells with synths and beats and is short, but very sweet.
The warped bass line and northern vocals of Mark E. Smith make Glitter Freeze a memorable offering, while the De La Soul-inspired, super-funky Superfast Jellyfish is the most fun track on offer here.
On the whole however, Albarn avoids any of the anthemic tracks that have made Gorillaz a force to be reckoned with in the past, and interestingly, it is often his own offerings, without the aid of special guests, that are the finest songs here, notably the electro-beat driven On Melancholy Hill and the dancey little number, Rhinestone Eyes, up there with any of his best songs.
This album confirms what many suspected; that what started as a cartoon band has fully and finally made the jump to being a modern digital epic, present here in all its technicolor glory.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Action Haiti, in aid of Concern Worldwide’s relief efforts in the stricken country, are being organised by Liam Marley and local man Eric Kelleher, members both of the Aspersion Music Collective (AMC), a non-profit collective that ran shows in Limerick for several years, playing host to acts like Fugazi, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more.
The duo have declared that “after seeing the devastation caused by the Haiti earthquake, like most people, we felt compelled to do something to help in any way we could”.
Having approached friends and several Limerick based musicians, the duo have come up with Action Haiti, to raise funds to help the aid and rescue effort continuing in the poverty-stricken country.
Appearing on the night will be well-known local artists Peter Delaney, Mark O’Connor, Windings - featuring Liam Marley himself - and Mahlon Sweet Field, which features Dolan’s sound technician Sean Harrold on lap-steel guitar - rounded off with a DJ set from Viva Music Studios’ own Dan Sykes.
The organisers noted the “host of great Limerick talent who are all graciously contributing their time and effort for free” and add that they think “there will be something for everyone’s musical taste” on the night.
The Action Haiti gig takes place this Saturday in Dolan’s Warehouse at 8pm. Admission is €6, with donations encouraged.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The American comedian and writer has, in fact, lived in the UK for at least the past two decades, and is a household name for his regular turns on Have I Got News for You, QI, 8 out of 10 Cats and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
An Edinburgh Fringe favourite - where he scooped the prestigious Perrier award in 2000 - Hall’s comedic style is something of the grouchy, deadpan comic, and it is not hard to imagine why Matt Groening credits him as the inspiration for Moe in the Simpsons, one of that show’s most popular characters.
A so-called “a master of absurdist irony”, Hall wastes little time on almost every appearance in making a caustic comments about his fellow countrymen, and life across the pond.
Hall got his start in comedy on American sketch shows, including Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the Late Show with David Letterman, for which he won an Emmy award.
One of his most famous characters is his own grizzled uncle, Otis Lee Crenshaw, the much-convicted country music singer, whom he has appeared as in routines, as well as releasing albums and making a movie about the man.
A cerebral comic, Hall regularly sells out gigs across the UK, and comes to Limerick for this one-off show this Thursday.
Limerick’s enthusiasm for stand-up comedians shows no signs of abating, with top-line comedians in town every month, if not week.
However, few reach the heights set by Hall, and this promises to be a truly entertaining night of laughter.
NOTE There is no support for this gig, doors open at 8pm, with Rich Hall on stage at 8.45pm sharp. The comedian will perform two 45min sets, with a break in the middle.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It will be the only date that Dylan will play in Ireland this summer and tickets are to go on sale this coming Monday.
Speaking exclusively to the Limerick Leader this Wednesday afternoon, promoter Peter Aiken said securing Dylan's services for a large outdoor summer show was "massive", but said the concert was going to be "all about the music".
"It is going to be big, but it is going to be about the music - people will come from all over to see him," said Peter.The promoter also confirmed that up to four other acts are going to share the bill with Dylan, with doors opening on the day at 2pm.
"We are going to have another four acts on the same day, it will be a really good day of good music - three of the acts will be very well-known, household names and people should be very impressed with what we are going to do," said Mr Aiken.
Dylan is the second act announced for Thomond Park this summer, with pop star Pink set to perform in June.
Tickets go on sale Monday morning and cost €81.25, €70.70 & €60.00 seated & €65.70 general admission.
For more of this interview with Peter Aiken see this weekend's Limerick Leader.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I meant to post this last week, but time got away from me.. Missed Regan's gig last Saturday as well, unfortunately, but better late than never to post this interview..
THE DELIGHTFULLY idiosyncratic Fionn Regan is something of a national treasure, a sort of modern wandering troubadour in the mould of Drake and Dylan, complete with bizarre bowl haircut, cherubic face and an ability to speak in wonderfully meandering metaphoric language.
Thankfully, his songs are damn good too, from the whimsical and joyous Mercury Music Prize nominated folk debut The End of History, to the visual and visceral recent follow-up The Shadow of an Empire, which has seen the Bray man develop a sort of electric swagger to his tempo.
While you might be forgiven for thinking Regan has been resting on his laurels since that 2006 debut, that couldn’t be further from the truth. An incessant period spent touring, particularly Stateside, has taken up much of the last four years, but Regan still found time to record not one, but two follow-ups to his debut.
The first was an uncompromising recording made in conjunction with Kings of Leon producer Ethan Johns, but was not what Regan’s American label wanted, and as a result, both parties went their separate ways, a parting Regan has likened to a divorce. He returned to Ireland and recorded and produced Shadow of an Empire in an old biscuit factory, and as a result, when he spoke to On the Beat recently, he described himself as “busting at the hinges” to get it out.
“I took on quite a lot of touring for The End of History,” he explains, in one of the more straightforward answers in a beguiling conversation. “I came off the road in 2008 and made a record with Ethan Johns, which got clamped on the docks with red tape wrapped around it, so I had pull out of the drive, and make another record. So in a sense I have made three (records).”
“I suppose what I am saying is that I have been flat out and sometimes people think that you have been sitting beside a swimming pool drinking a cocktail or something, but actually within the walls of the story, the turnaround has been remarkable. It has been very fast.” He adds, with a laugh: “There is a lot of trip wire around, and before you know it, it can be two inches into your shin, then you have to learn how to dance”.
Red-tape and label issues aside, it is clear that there has been a huge turnaround in musical styles on Regan’s follow-up album, as he moves to a sort of folk-punk rockabilly style, punctuated by plenty of anger and dark mutterings. Take the electric-polka beat of Violent Demeanour, a key track on the album, which seems to hint at mental illness, or the nod to drug addiction on Catacombs, or the swaggering, jangly, Dylan-esque opener Protection Racket; all of these seem to point to Regan changing tack, away from his softer musings.
These may have been influenced by Dylan Thomas and Jack Kerouac, who he namechecks, but Regan remains conflicted about a drastic seachange in his style, it seems.
“The thing about the End of History, that came about because the only way I could get around was by travelling with an acoustic guitar and sleeping on couches,” explains Regan. “Eventually, when it got released in America, I could take a drummer along with me, so then you have a different set of tools around you, so you can do a different thing, but everything has its own natural leaning. It is well and good if you repeat something if it resonates with you, if it is the truth, but if it isn't, you can't.”
“Ultimately (the new record) is not very different at all, the lyrics, and the person are still there at the centre of it. Maybe when you break it down into different compartments, aesthetics and this that and the other, maybe the musical language has changed a little bit, but the centre pole remains the same,” he adds.
Taking a reference point from “the pop songs of the 60s”, Regan has released an album full of its idiosyncrasies and quirks, which was driven by a certain amount of trial and error, as he reveals in his singular way.
“When you are on the ship and the captain is not at his perch, someone needs to grab the wheel, that is the way it has worked out with me so far, I have to grab the wheel, and in a way it saves time for me to do it that way... I locked antlers with myself and pushed myself - and when there are too many other people doing that, it makes the process harder.”
He says he is looking forward to getting back out on tour, but that period won’t be as long as it was after his debut.
“Probably not. That was a very unique situation. Sometimes, that is one of the learning curves - to me it is more important to document future records, and make sure that the turnover is faster.”
“I learnt an incredible amount and got to see the world - but this time, I don't see myself touring for two and a half years, which is the simplest way of putting it I suppose,” he adds with a laugh.
The Shadow of an Empire is out now.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
I'm still getting my act together after my trip to the capital for the annual awards ceremony and should have more to post later.. Listening to the new Gorillaz album as well, very impressed so far - more later..
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The full shortlist is as follows: And So I Watch You From Afar, Codes, Adrian Crowley, Dark Room Notes, The Duckworth Lewis Method, Julie Feeney, Valerie Francis and The Swell Season - all of whom will perform this Wednesday - and Bell X1 and Laura Izibor, who are nominated but cannot perform due to touring commitments.
Doors open at 7pm sharp and the show begins at 7.30pm with Codes up first on stage. Paul McLoone will be broadcasting live from Vicar St, with the winner announced around 10.30pm approx.. Should be fun!
In other news (we are a bit behind on this) the line-up for Oxegen 2010 was announced last week and includes, among others, Eminem, Muse and Jay-Z..
Joining the above trio on the line-up are The Black Eyed Peas, Kasabian, The Prodigy, Florence and the Machine, Paolo Nutini, Faithless, Stereophonics, Vampire Weekend, Hot Chip, Calvin Harris, Temper Trap, Empire Of The Sun, Goldfrapp, La Roux and many, many more. Joining the line-up are hotly tipped Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club, who played in Dolan's last night, of which more anon, we promise..
On the local scene, a few tickets remain for the Baron of Techno Dave Clarke at Streetlife's gig in Dolan's on Friday, while the JD Set also takes place beforehand - and is free in..
Fionn Regan plays on Saturday, and we will post our delightful interview with the Bray troubadour in due time.
Also, we are excited at the news that Tweak! are host a party soon too, of which, again, more will be heard on these pages in the near future.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Tonight's Two Door Cinema Club gig has been moved from Upstairs in Dolan's into the Warehouse, such is the level of demand for his up and coming, highly rated, yadda yadda yadda, Northern Irish band. But, as On the Beat told you last week, their album really is that good, as are their live performances, we are told.. Check them out tonight.. Here is a video for Undercover Martyn in the meantime. See you down there.