Monthly Archives: August 2010

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge, 2010)

This is actually the first time we’ve featured them, but they’ve been mentioned here more than any other band.

Nick: Really? Maybe you’re right.

I like it a lot, but it’s strange… to compliment it you have to say things that sound negative in comparison to what they done before. It’s less exuberant, it’s probably less inventive, it’s actually more grown up. If you had to guess the age of the people who made the first record you’d say 17 or 18, it had a studenty feel. But now they sound like they’re mid 20s or early 30s, this is more established, and yet I think it’s very good. I hate to say middle of the road but its true.

I think this would reach a broader range of listeners.

Do you think there’s many people who haven’t listened to them yet?

Well that’s not the same thing, this will get more people listening to them, it’ll change their minds.

When we went to see them in the Olympia, I must’ve been the oldest person there, at least twice as old as the next person, but now I can imagine their shows will be full of older people.

You didn’t have much fun at that show…

Well I was surrounded by people pissed out of their minds, they didn’t come to listen to the music. I was worried about the guy in front of us, it’s steep up in the seats, I could see him toppling off the balcony. But then I’m old so I worry about that stuff, all the people his age probably would’ve loved to see that!

But I think it’s the music not the crowd that kept the older people away. Everyone who I told I was going raised their eyebrows, most didn’t even know who I was talking about!

I think somewhere between the first and second album his voice became incredibly miserable sounding.

You think so? I don’t think it ever sounded uplifting…in fact he doesn’t look very uplifting either.

They take very serious photos.

Yes they do.

This is also a lot more orchestral isn’t it? The only objection I have, and it’s a minor one – it tends to be quite samey, a lot of the songs are very similar.

What do you think of the whole ‘Suburbs’ theme?

Ahh that’s just something for them to hang their hats on, it’s not important.

I’m starting to agree with your brother, the songs are all too long.

{Track 15: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)}

I really love this one.

It’s probably the least ‘Arcade Fire’…

Yeah, but I’m surprised at how well it fits in with the rest.

The album has a great cohesion. It’s very….of one thing.

These songs all come from the same part of the forest? Just on the outskirts of the suburbs?

Yes, but almost too much! There is almost no surprises in it.

{Track 16: The Suburbs (Continued)}

Actually this is a surprise, I thought it was over.

So there we go, Nick finally gets to choose an album, can’t believe we’d never ‘done’ Arcade Fire before. Just found out what he wants to do tomorrow, I’m nervous.


Sparks – Indiscreet (Island, 1975)

Nick: Electricians?

Turn it up.

It’s very distinctive, if you’ve heard it once you’ll recognise it anywhere, you’ll never confuse them with anyone else.

{Track 3: Without Using Hands}

I couldn’t put my finger on it until this track but it has a real cabaret quality to it!

They should be writing musicals, or he or whoever, this should all be happening on a big stage with a big production, it’s musical theater. I love it. Terrific stuff isn’t it?

And it’s melodically memorable too, it’s not just the style marks them out.

Where are they from?

Los Angeles. A lot of people always thought they were British.

Yes, I would have thought that too, I can see captions on the bottom of the album cover ‘Recorded On A West End Stage’. It’s very retro.

Released in 1975.

Yes but this is very thirties or forties.

{Track 5: Under The Table With Her}

He’s even imitating a British accent here! And again, it has a sense of humour. And he has such a great voice, super voice. Great control.

Aha.. their ‘first pop musical’ came out last year, ‘The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman’.


Also they must be very intelligent guys, you can tell that straight away. Not that that’s any kind of endorsement.

They’re the new Gilbert & Sullivan!

But….at the same time you have to realise it’s a limited appeal.  Did their musical do well?

I’m not sure, hold on, yeah seems to have gotten good reviews allover, oh, it was only performed on the radio, not the stage.

Oh, well it’s something you instantly think of when you hear them, ‘they should make a musical’ and they did! And i hope they get to keep making them.

It was a toss up between this and one of Dexy’s three albums for my last album on the blog ever, hope I’ve made the right decision. See you next week, where Nick will be choosing the albums!

Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Rock ‘n Roll With The Modern Lovers (Castle, 1977)

What’ll we do? What’ll we do? Oh! Haha, YES! Ok you ready? You’ll love this.

Nick: Urgh…is that the guy I hate?

Hahaha, it’s my last week y’know?

Is that a reason for torturing me?

Actually I quite like the intro. But I’m afraid it’s still a voice I absolutely can’t stand. It’s mainly the accent, that sort of plummy sort of phony sort of public school…

{Track 4: Summer Morning, has a spoken intro}

Such a horrible accent, ‘Flaaz’ {flies}. I’ve had that very few times in my life, you come across a person and your instant reaction is; HIT THEM! I’ve never seen the guy but I have feeling if he walked into a room I’d want to hit him right away.

He sounds like, what we’d call in the Dublin vernacular, a prick. He sounds like a prick.

He could be a lovely guy, I’m sure his mother loves him, I could be totally wrong, but I just detest him.

Some of the music is actually nice! It would be great if they engaged another singer. I just can’t get past his voice, it’s a pity. Maybe I need counseling? There must be some deep psychological reason why I can’t take him.

Some folks say that The Modern Lovers’ first recordings ‘invented punk’.

Well a lot of people who were leaders or innovators were no good.

He could be a great guy, gives to charity, influenced all these great bands but he has the voice of an arrogant prick.

The lyrics and the music have this…how would I describe it? It’s phony primitive.

Does he have many fans in Ireland?

Well the last couple times I’ve been to see him it’s been packed.

So do I run the chance of being beaten up?

I don’t think his fans are the violent type.

No? So they’re just arrogant pricks as well?

Not a great verdict – Phony primitive music sung by an arrogant prick.

One of my favorite albums by one of my favorite dudes.

Ben Frost – By The Throat (Bedroom Community, 2009)

Nick: M50 during rush-hour?

A question comes to my mind when listening to stuff like this; is it music or is it sound? And is there a difference? There probably is.

This…well I don’t know how the rest is going to develop, but I wouldn’t categorise this as music, this is sound.

Hmmm, now it seems like there are some cattle dying on the M50, they’ve obviously been hit by the heavy traffic.

When was this done?

Last year.

Right, yeah. Certainly eh… expresses the onset of the overall depression pretty well, I’d say.

I’m still trying to analyze why repetition seems to be so incredibly hard to handle for some people. Why Is Phillip Glass’ repetition so intriguing, where this is immediately boring?

When Glass repeats you want it to go on, but this, I want it to change straight away. Glass seems to repeat something that is already there, in your subconscious, this repeats……

There is a Roman Catholic philosopher, one of the few I have any time for, called Romano Guardini, he has written about how a work of art becomes, apart from…

‘Something of itself’?


You’ve spoken about him here before.


Yeah, hold on while I find it.

…he compares art to a stone….

February 2009.

…while this needs a movie, or light effects or….


What? ducktails? What about ducktails? What do ducktails have to do with anything?

That is who you said this about before.

Oh ok, shows I’m getting old, I’m starting to repeat myself.


Haha, that’s not fair!

Sometimes there’s a part that raises your hopes that it might go somewhere, but then it all falls into a mire of sounds again, goes nowhere.

This guy’s Australian but based in Iceland.

Woahohohohoho…THAT is interesting….based in Iceland eh?

Even from a ‘sounds’ point of view, it’s a bit of a hodge-podge isn’t it? These howling winds, or wolves…they come from a different part of the forest…Haha wolves from a different part of the forest! Ehrm..they come from a different part of the forest as the M50 bits from earlier.

Well, the M50 passes some forests.

Yeah but not with wolves in them.

This record was requested by Darragh from Asleep On The Compost Heap, easily one of the best music writers in this country and a long time supporter of this here blog. Thank you Darragh.

Adebisi Shank – This Is The Second Album By A Band Called Adebisi Shank (Richter Collective, 2010)

Nick: It’s a very strange effect in a way, if you think about it.
Because if you compare it with other music from now, it seems quite advanced. But on the other hand it’s very old-fashioned – it sounds industrial, like a clinking klonking factory, we don’t have them anymore, this is the digital age. But this is filling plants, bottling plants, machinery working. This is Charlie Chaplin.

It’s intriguing and interesting but not pleasant to listen to.

Is this what they call Math Rock?


Because it is mathematical, constructed rather than composed.

I guess it could fit into Math Rock but it’s more…..loose?

I wouldn’t buy it, certainly not.

Because of its industrial, heavy sound it also, to me, comes across as German. No, not German, Germanic. It’s… uhh.. hobnail boots music. Know what I mean? Hobnail boots?

Someone said to me the other day, well these aren’t the exact words, but it was something like: because they know the guys are Irish they can only… ehh.. respect the music, I guess, but if they had been told they were Japanese they’d think it was the most amazing thing ever. What do you think about that?

Well that’s a very skewed way to look at music – you have to separate. Japanese, Chinese, Irish who cares?
Actually if it came from central Papua New Guinea I probably would think it’s the most amazing thing ever.

{Track 4: (-_-)}

This is very clever.

It’s certainly pretty unique – I wouldn’t know of anything that sounds remotely like it. This part {Outro to ‘Logdrum’}, you could say there are Debussy and Ravel influences, there probably aren’t but that’s what I hear.

In this later part the heavy industrial thing disappears. It’s very much processes.

It is processes?

Yeah. If you walk in to a room and you hear this you expect to see something, something to go with it, a documentary maybe, so this is processes music. Like what I said above, it’s still industrial in that way. Don’t know if I’m expressing this well.

It sort of grows on you – there are some nice bits, but I guess it’s just kind of unsympathetic.

That old ‘nickism’.

Haha, yeah.

It’s unique, sometimes nice, industrial, Germanic and unsympathetic music.

I wish I could put into the words the shivers and rushes that flew through my body the first time I heard opening track ‘International Dreambeat’, they’re still there, every time it plays. And the best thing is, it never dips from then on.

Grand Pocket Orchestra – The Ice Cream (Pigeonheart, 2010)

Nick: Sorry, I need to go to the loo, back in a moment.
But so far I like it, it’s enthusiastic, fun, it has a sense of humour. You can hear they’re enjoying it and that’s the best incentive for listening, if you can hear that the musicians enjoy what they’re doing then you can enjoy it too.

I’ve said it before but too many musicians these days sound like they don’t want to be there and to that I say ‘well… GET LOST!’

Only bad thing is it’s a bit too hectic.

The record is called ‘The Ice Cream’ what flavour is it?

Oh this would be the one with the ehh… thingys, the speckly colours and things, wouldn’t it? I mean it’s great fun but eventually it’ll get on your nerves. You need relief.

(Track 10: Worms)

Just like this! But then this will get hectic any minute won’t it?

(It does)

What kind of people do you reckon made this? Do you reckon this is a release for them? That they’re very quiet and boring in real life?

They’re art students.

Or actually! Maybe they’re music students, it’s very well put together, very musical.

Are you going to ask me what kind of animals they would be? Because I already know that: squirrels!

Do you know what sort of people they are? Please don’t say bank clerks.

Well an ‘art student’ and a ‘bank clerk’ aren’t a type of person.

No. Well, to a degree they are, you can’t say they’re not.

Do you like it?

Yeah I love it.

Me too.

I know it’s probably not but it sounds very spontaneous, almost reminds me of that first Arcade Fire record, like they just got together for a mess and this was the result.

I mean, there is so little music with real humour, and this has it and it makes it incredibly attractive, that is what got me into Thelonius Monk – the minute I heard him I knew; this is Jazz with humour, this is my music.
Too many musicians, especially in pop, take themselves too seriously. This has a lovely sense of humour.
Long may they stick around!

GPO kinda remind me of Happy Tree Friends – it’s a cartoon where a bunch of really cute lil’ critters get into all sorts of really disgusting mishaps that leave them all bloody and mutilated. GPO are all twee and twinkly glocks and sugary melodies on one hand but there’s this weirdly disturbing undercurrent running through it all, maybe because singer Paddy Hanna seems to be foaming at the mouth for the album’s 36 minutes. Does that make sense? It’s been a while since I wrote one of these.
GPO launch this glorious record next Saturday in Whelans with the awesome Girls Names and Hipster Youth in support. Go!

The End

Oh hey.
So the blog has totally petered out, kinda sad right? But i knew this would happen. I wanted to kill it at the 12 month point, keep it neat. Nick convinced me to keep it going and, well..yeah.

But that’s not good enough! We’re proud of this – it’s probably the best Irish blog of all time ever, actually scratch that – it’s definitely the best website since the invention of the internet. So we’re coming back! But only for two weeks. For the first week things will be as they always were, ‘Classic Nick Thinks…’ if you will. But for the second week we’ll change things up a bit – Nick is gonna pick the albums he wants to review, they might be his favorites or his least or who knows? Exciting, right?

Ok, gotta go, MASSIVE thanks to anyone out there who still cares, see you on Monday!

xx r&n