Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Northside Learning Hub and Sunday Times Host Leviathan Political Cabaret

THE THOMONDGATE based Northside Learning Hub are to co-host the city’s second Leviathan Political Cabaret event this Wednesday. The event is being held in association with the Sunday Times and takes place in Dolan’s Warehouse.
Late Late Show band leader Paddy Cullivan (of The Camembert Quartet fame) will host the evening of musical satire and lively discussion, with a debate to be held under the heading “Is Music Worth Paying For?”, to form the central part of the evening.
Among the panel to discuss this topic are Spin South West DJ Michelle McMahon, Mick Dolan of Dolan’s Warehouse, Kathleen Turner of the ICO, Alan Owens of the Limerick Leader and Chronicle, David O’Connell, principal of Limerick School of Music, James Blake of the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra and the Learning Hub and David O’Donovan of and the Limerick Event Guide.
This event is to mark the launch of the Learning Hub’s brand new Music Hub at Kileely House, which will house a fully equipped recording studio and music rehearsal space.
For more information see here. Please come out and support this event if you can.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

OOAL Drop Split 7" Single This Sunday In Dolan's

HUGELY POPULAR local record label Out On A Limb Records are gearing up to “drop” a new split 7” vinyl single release from two of the countries most exciting up and coming bands, Ennis band C!ties and Dublin’s Guilty Optics, and celebrate by holding a special launch party Upstairs in Dolan’s this Sunday.
The launch party, which will feature both of the bands present on the superb new single, will also feature the excellent Jogging, who released one of the best Irish records of the year with the blistering "Minutes", and Baby Blue Eyes (featuring ex members of Limerick band Hatch 77 and Scott from Sea Dog).
C!ties, a young instrumental trio from Ennis Co. Clare, have been regualr visitors to Limerick on and off for the last 18 months and incorporate a wide range of styles, chiefly thumping electro-rock.
Their self produced EP, released in November 2008, impressed many and bolstered the young band’s reputation. The band present their wide-eyed and giddy slab of instrumentalism with “Krakatoa” on this single release, OOAL’s second split release.

Guilty Optics, on the other hand, formed more recently - in 2008 - and feature Alan Finnerty, Peter Lee and Ruadhan O’Meara and have a particular type of melodic rock’n’roll that is starting to gain them a wider reputation and offer the shuddering “White Teeth” on this single, recorded using vintage analogue equipment.

OOAL, home to Windings, Crayonsmith and more, has been noted in the past for discovering new acts, and this spilt release is no different.
Ciaran Ryan of the label says they are “delighted” to be doing a split 7" with both bands.
“Both bands played OOAL shows during our label tour in February and we were mightly impressed,” says Ciaran.
“They are two of the most exciting newish bands in the country, and sound completely different to each other, so it made perfect sense for us to throw them on a single together,” he adds.

The OOAL launch party takes place at 6pm this Sunday Upstairs in Dolan’s and it is a free show. The 7” will be available to buy at the gig and selected independent record stores. Each comes with a unique downloadable code. For more see here.

Album Review - Robert Plant 'A Band Of Joy'

Robert Plant
‘Band of Joy’

I, FOR one, am glad Robert Plant turned down a reported $200 million offer to reform Led Zeppelin following their reunion gig in 2007.
If the seminal rock band had reformed, we might not have seen the release of two of the finest albums produced in the intervening period - Plant’s album Raising Sand, released in 2007 with Alison Krauss, and his latest offering, the new release Band of Joy.

Raising Sand went on to win six Grammy Awards, including Grammy for Album of the Year in 2009, and was a masterpiece, Krauss’s delicate and hushed voice intertwining perfectly with Plant’s gruff, often falsetto, timbre.
This album picks up where that left off, but finds Plant with a new band of collaborators, including Nashville legend and guitarist Buddy Miller, multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott - both of whose fingerprints are heavily featured on this album - and country singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, who manages to avoid merely copying Krauss and brings her own individualism to the project.
Band of Joy takes its title from Plant’s first group, formed in the ‘60s, and his decision to resurrect the name burns with symbolism, the former Led Zep frontman allowing the first rate musicians he has assembled to steer him back to his roots, as it were.

The album opens with to the throbbing, groaning guitar lines on an incredibly diverse interpretation of Los Lobos's 'Angel Dance' - a delicate banjo the perfect counterpoint to Plant’s dulcet tones, and the Southern blues of Miller’s guitars.
The bluegrass, brush-drum tones of ‘House of Cards’ follows, the perfect vehicle to demonstrate Plant’s vocals as they twist and turn with Griffin’s softer tones.
The slow-building exhalation of blues-rock that is Low's 'Silver Rider' is one of the most intoxicating offerings on the album, while the upbeat, chugging snarl of the Beatles-influenced ‘You Can’t Buy My Love’ is an eye-opener.
The beautiful swoon of The Kelly Brothers' Sixties soul classic 'Falling In Love Again' and the deliciously vibrant ‘The Only Sound That Matters’, provide a nice balance to the feedback drenched ‘Monkey’, the standout track on the album.
This is a majestic offering from one of rock’s most royal members; a comprehensive reworking of some old standards and classic tunes that is varied, rich and vibrant.
Truly a thing of joy.

Album review - Supermodel Twins 'Raincloud Free'

Supermodel Twins
‘Raincloud Free’
(Gohan Records)

IF EVER there was a more appropriate album title, we haven’t heard better than the much anticipated debut from local power-popsters, Supermodel Twins.
‘Raincloud Free’, unlike other obscure monikers we have heard in the past, does exactly what it says on the tin; delivering a blistering, 11-track, 35-minute collection of upbeat pop-rock songs in the mould of Weezer, Nada Surf et al, with a Beach Boys-meets Green Day dash thrown into the mix.

The album will certainly brighten up your day and take your attention away from the deluge currently falling outside your window.
This is undoubtedly the album’s strength and sees the Limerick five-piece wear their hearts on their sleeves, unashamedly allowing the above influences to ring clear on the album, avoiding any kind of pretension at trying anything other than blasting out good solid pop songs.
Produced under the expert gaze of The Cranberries’ axe-man Noel Hogan, the glossy sheen on this album add greatly to the wholesome sound - a testament to Hogan’s growing production skills.

However, and we offer this by way of constructive criticism, where the album falls down is its reluctance to vary from its obvious formula, sticking rigidly to a heavily Weezer-influenced sound, all American-twang vocals and loud guitars.
Simply put, Raincloud Free is inhibited by its style and lack of originality, but, it is fun, and there are some really decent pop songs on offer here.
The first couple of tracks set the scene and surprisingly, offer some deliciously off-kilter and quite subversive lyrics buried within the seemingly saccharine melodies; on opener While You Were Out, the singer details snooping around said girl’s apartment; on the superb One Step Behind, reminiscent of early Foo Fighters material, a song which boasts taut melodies and coruscating guitars, we hear elements of the same theme, “everywhere you go, I’ll be there / always one step behind”.
The toned down and more reflective My Girl presents engaging melodies a la Fountains of Wayne and shows more depth, as does the excellent Bruises, popping with handclaps and effervescent melodies.

However things start to unravel on the ill-advised and poppy ‘Hilary’, which includes the following lyric: “ever since I saw you in that movie / where you tried to hide your boobies”, and so on.
The zingy melody of Footprints In The Snow and soft-core rock of Modern Day Robin Hood are better, but overall this album’s lack of scope and depth proves its undoing.

Pity, cause there is some serious potential here.

Album review - Halves "It Goes, It Goes (Forever and Ever)"

'It Goes, It Goes (Forever and Ever)'

TO SIMPLY label this album from Dublin trio Halves as “cinematic” would be vaguely correct, but simplistic.
While the superb opening track Land/Sea/People might indeed be at home on a Cameron Crowe or Nick Cave soundtrack, the sheer depth and variety on this album makes it too difficult to pigeon-hole into one genre.
Indeed, it would also be simplistic to simply class this highly-awaited debut album from the band as “post-rock”, but there are undoubted elements of this multi-faceted genre on what is a genuinely haunting and spine-tingling album.
The scale of the instrumentalism - deep, dark drums, soaring guitars, bouncy melodions, rich and vibrant cellos and haunting violins - present on this album is astounding, while the pacing and narrative structure are adhered to cleverly without becoming overly rigid.
This is a brooding, grandiose and epic album, but unlike the raucous noise of the undoubted influence of Scottish post-rock specialists Mogwai, there are also tender, heartbreaking vocals on It Goes, It Goes, some from vocalist Tim Czerniak and some from the haunting Amy Millan (of Stars fame) on the superb I Raise Bears and the criminally underrated Katie Kim on the unfolding rhythm of Growing & Glow.
With this release, recorded live on tape in Montreal’s Hotel2Tango studios, the Dublin trio (Brian Cash, Tim and Elis Czerniak) end a five year wait for their debut album, preceded as it was by two well received EPs.
Halves live show has long been lauded, correctly, for being a dramatic mix of sweeping visuals, guitars and live drums, but on this record they have managed the seemingly impossible; an ability to conjure up a sweeping visual vista in the listener’s mind, simply by allowing the strength and epic nature of their music to spark the imagination.
Quite simply, a brilliant record, made to be listened to again and again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bell X1 and Rubberbandits for Eightball gigs in Daghdha this weekend

THE DELIGHTFUL St. John’s Church - home to Daghdha Dance Company - plays host to two very special live gigs this weekend, as Bell X1 play a special acoustic gig on Friday and Limerick’s own Rubberbandits take to the stage on Saturday.
Promoters are very excited about these two exceptional gigs, as are we, both of which have the potential to be the most talked about of the year - for very different reasons.

Bell X1 arrive in Limerick as part of a national tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut album, ‘Neither Am I’, and after tremendous success over recent years. The band will play a special stripped back, acoustic set from their entire catalogue as well as debuting some new material, with their fifth studio album due in Spring 2011. The gig is sold out.

Saturday will be a completely different affair as the dastardly duo of The Rubberbandits take to the stage in the 15th century church, for what should be a memorable show.
The Bandits’ arrive in Limerick for a very special - and possibly unique - gig, billed as an “Intimate Evening With The Rubberbandits”, featuring the comedic/rap duo in conversation with Cian Hallinan, host of the Voice Box in Dublin’s Twisted Pepper.

Never fear, the show will be in two parts and will also feature the Limerick duo performing a number of their by-now classic tunes at the gig, which comes hot on the heels of their weekly appearances on RTE’s Republic of Telly, presented by Limerickman Dermot Whelan. The ‘Bandits segments have also had 100,000 hits on YouTube.

City Life got in touch with the Rubberbandits to find out what the gig will consist of, and Blind Boy Boat Club, one-half of the ‘Bandits, told us: “A lively debate on everything from Friedrich Nietzsche to tying your shoelaces with fags in both hands”.
Asked to account for their recent rise in fame and fortune, Boat Club replied: “Telling jokes about fannies and willies coupled with an extensive knowledge and insight of the human psyche, if the human psyche was but a shallow pool of water in the paw prints of a greyhound”.

After the lively and existential debate, expect songs about horses, glue and honda civics - and expect to leave with a stomach sore from laughing. Tickets for Bell X1 are sold out. Tickets for The Rubberbandits are available from Euro Empire 061-317211.

Doors for both shows open at 8pm.