14 12 2009

One of the UK and Ireland’s loveliest independent music sites, Ragged Words, is turning its attentions to organising gigs. With a talented group of writers who really know their stuff and a starting line-up as good as this one, chances are we’re in for a treat. I’m especially looking forward to sibling duo, The Holy Roman Army, whose debut album ‘How the Light Gets In” was definitely one of the most under-rated of the year.

Details and clip below.

The first of many Ragged Words shows (on both side of the Irish Sea) sees Adrian Crowley, The Holy Roman Army & Hunter-Gatherer play Dublin’s Twister Pepper on Sunday December 20. We’re thrilled to have put together a really strong lineup – all three acts are being strongly tipped for a Choice Music Prize nomination when the shortlist is announced in mid-January – so this gig showcases some of the cream of Irish music doing the rounds right now.

It all kicks off at 8pm on and tickets are priced at a budget-beating, pocket-pleasing €10 (plus a small booking fee) and are on sale now through tickets.ie. They’re also available from Road Records, City Discs and Plugd

The Holy Roman Army – Stagger Gently Home


Coors Light Peak Dublin

23 11 2009

For Connected


I make no secret of the fact that I think a lot of Irish music doing the rounds nowadays is very mediocre. Therefore, when Connected assigned me to stand in the middle of a Dublin shipping dock on a Saturday night in the middle of November, the only thing that was tearing me away from the warmth of my sitting room and Jedward (now there’s quality…) was the draw of a certain Jeremy Hickey and his wonderful drumstick-wielding ways. Hickey, who is better known by his ironic moniker, Rarely Seen Above Ground (RSAG), was on just before headliners New Young Pony Club, though, so whilst waiting I hung around and took advantage of the free Coors Light and ate chips to keep warm. Oh, and I checked out a couple of bands too…

The Dublin indie quartet played songs from their debut album, Trees Dream in Algebra, to get the crowd warmed up. Phantom FM playlist stalwarts such as ‘You Are Here’ and ‘This is Goodbye’ provided plenty of fodder for the mass of indie fans that had amalgamated at the foot of the stage. In fairness to the band, ‘This is Goodbye’ is a catchy, melodic number that suits the singer’s androgynous voice but, on a whole, Codes are a poor man’s Keane who probably aspire to be more like Muse, yet haven’t quite got the balls to pull it off (although Muse are the most overrated band of our generation, so it’s much of a muchness). They seemed to placate the crowd – each to their own – but at this point I was still wishing I had stayed in and watched X-Factor.

Tiny Magnetic Pets
With nods to Kraftwerk, Stereolab and David Bowie, Tiny Magnetic Pets emulate some of electronica’s greatest innovators with an admirable aptitude for their chosen field. They seem to have grasped the concept of ‘less is more’ on a lot of tracks (‘See What I See’, ‘Spinning’); letting sparsity speak volumes whilst dually avoiding the messy synth-orgy that so many Irish electro-pop outfits get drawn into due to over eagerness and inexperience. Saying this, tracks like ‘Control Me’ prove that the Psychonavigation-signed duo can still hold their own in the dancefloor-filling stakes. Ok, so they’re not breaking any moulds with singer Paula Glimmer’s Allison Goldfrapp-esque vocals, but their understanding and usage of analogue instrumentation is usually spot on. Their cover of the Eurythmics’ ‘Love is a Stranger’ was particularly noteworthy and there were more than a few heads mouthing the words to their biggest hit to date, ‘Girl in a White Dress’.

After some time spent admiring industrial paraphernalia that had been transformed to fit the scene – 40ft shipping containers used as projection screens – RSAG was announced as the next act and the crowd started to heave en masse towards the stage. As the only artist to have been booked to play all five Coors Light Peak gigs (in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Galway and Limerick), the Kilkenny man was undoubtedly one of the main draws for many ticketholders.


His debut album Organic Sampler is one of the best Irish records to have been released in recent years and his live sets never fail to disappoint. With his trademark ‘graphic band’ visuals especially striking thanks to the industrialised backdrop, things were off to a good start. Whoring through tracks from the aforementioned Organic Sampler, RSAG’s short set surged through the crowd like a combustible burst of live energy. Live, his deadpan, Ian Curtis-like voice is certainly less-than-comprehensible but I guess it’s a matter of personal taste as to whether that takes away from the songs or not.

Personally, I think it’s neither here nor there and, in fact, may even add to his renowned reputation as a great live performer. Flawless vocals can often be strangely unsatisfying at a live gig but, again, it’s down to personal opinion on that front. It’s hard to pick out any one highlight of the set; ‘Talk Back, Crawl Back’, ‘The Climb’, ‘Days Go By’… the list goes on. I would strongly urge you to check out RSAG before the rest of the world cotton on to one of our most exciting musical assets.
Ok, sycophantic fawning out of the way… let’s move on.

Drag Queen Bingo / Extreme Rhythm
Filling the set up time that was going on over at the main stage, regular Twisted Pepper DJ duo Drag Queen Bingo teamed up with Wexford-based percussion ensemble, Extreme Rhythm, on the smaller stage to inject some vigour into the frost-stiffened limbs of the crowd. Energetic drum pounding fused with favourite club classics such as Paul Van Dyk’s ‘For an Angel’ were definite crowd pleasers.

New Young Pony Club
Considering that New Young Pony Club (NYPC) haven’t released any new material since their 2007 Mercury-nominated debut, Fantastic Playroom, the band’s headliner status felt more like a last minute panic by the booking agents than a carefully planned move. That fact is compounded further by looking at the quality of Coors Light Peak’s previous Irish headliners: Reverend & The Makers, The Charlatans, Fight Like Apes and Jape.


Call me ungrateful, but I felt a little hard done by on behalf of us Dubliners. Nonetheless, onetime super-hyped singles such as ‘Ice Cream’ and ‘The Bomb’ persuaded me to drop the cynicism for a nano-second and give NYPC a chance. Result? Meh. The crowd bopped away regardless in the ever-increasing cold, thanks to a steady stream of Coors Light and an admirably energetic set from a so-so band. They did play some new material but in my humble opinion there was nothing earth-shattering going on.

Overall, the gig was visually impactive and well organised. Feeder busses ferried punters to and from the city centre with no obvious hiccups and security seemed to be extra vigilant; perhaps due to the somewhat perilous setting. Just give us a bit of sunshine to go with our ice cold beers next time and we’ll be happy.

Review: Sheena Madden

Photography: Sara Devine


Maria Tecce ~ Fringe Fest Queen

18 11 2009

maria tecce

I used to work for a cd duplication company. We took in the masters, listened to the quality, checked the track listing was in order then sent them for pressing. If it was a really exciting day I might get to design the face of a promo cd – pulse-racing excitement. This being Ireland, it was rare that I came across ‘the next big thing’ through this process and so I had to resign myself to the fact that my days would be spent listening to either Red Hurley’s latest, greatest showband tunes or the strained attempts of some Rose of Tralee wannabe from Borris-in-Ossery who’s daddy had paid for a demo. You can imagine, so, my surprise and relief when one of these master copys turned out to be not only highly listenable but alluringly distinctive.

Maria Tecce, Dublin-based, Spanish-American, one-woman jazz force is unlike anything you are likely to come across by scouring the Hype Machine or any of your usual musical hunting grounds. Maria’s music doesn’t feel like it belongs on the web, amongst the overpowering myriad of hipsters, scenesters, movers & shakers all vying for your eyes and ears. It feels like the kind of music you would have discovered whilst strolling down some prohibition-era backstreet, straining to detect the whisper of a speakeasy songstress rising from the quagmires of the underground.

I mentioned Maria last year when she performed at the Dublin Fringe Festival and this year Scotland’s Fringe Festival crowd experienced the music of one of our most soulful and playful adopted citizens. Catch Maria perform in the intimate settings of JJ Smyths of Aungier Street (beside DBS college) this Sunday 22nd November for an theatrically indulgent pre-Christmas treat.




The Buzzcocks @ The Academy

23 10 2009

From Le Cool Dublin

Did you know that The Buzzcocks were responsible for bringing The Sex Pistols to The Lesser Free Trade Hall for that legendary gig? Yep, it’s true. Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto hopped on a bus to London to check out the Sex Pistols and were so impressed with what they saw that they hauled the band back to Manchester with them. In the end, The Buzzcocks didn’t play at the gig themselves due to some of the musicians dropping out, but they can still lay claim to organising the most important date in punk history. Proving that they are still undisputed lynchpins of punk, The Buzzcocks are touring once again, in anticipation of their support slot in December to fellow Mancunian band The Courteeners, and their catchy pop melodies merged with raw punk energy keep songs such as ‘Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone you Shouldn’t’ve)’ feeling as fresh and anarchic as ever.

Sheena Madden

Richard Hawley @ The Olympia

22 10 2009

From Le Cool Dublin

After serving time as a session musician before playing guitar alongside Jarvis Cocker (whilst on tour with thinking man’s Britpop outfit, Pulp), it wasn’t until the 2001 release of his eponymous debut album that Sheffield’s finest troubadour, Richard Hawley, really came into his own. Bittersweet, baritone songs set to lush, orchestral scores recalled the music of Scott Walker and made a million sickeningly-in-love couples weep. With songsabout love, heartbreak and the town he grew up in – “next to a butchers and the taxidermist and over the road from the cemetery” – Hawley’s lyrics are revered amongst adoring fans and industry heads alike. Whether you’re a self-confessed muso, one half of a sickeningly-in-love couple, or just someone who knows damn fine musicianship when you hear it, you’d be best advised to make your way to the Olympia.

Dublin Culture Night ’09

24 09 2009
Culture Night 2008

Culture Night 2008

For those who’ve had their fill of Guinness after Arthur’s Day and want to steer clear of the pubs this weekend, Dublin Culture Night is now in it’s third year and promises to be the biggest and most extravagant to date. With everywhere from The National Gallery to Trinity College and every independent gallery in between, Culture Night gives Dubliners and visitors an opportunity to experience all that our city has to offer beyond the walls of the local boozer. With some venues open as late as midnight, free entry to museums, guided walking tours and event-specific installations, the only difficulty will be deciding where to go next. So have a look at the website and plan your night now or just hop off the bus and have a stroll around the city where a host of helpful culture vultures will be on hand to guide you in the right direction.

You can read a great interview with Culture Night founder Grainne Millar here to find out what it’s all about.

*Note that while all events are free, some must be booked in advance. See website for details to avoid disappointment.

Trust Me, I’m A Thief

24 09 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Trust Me, I’m A Thief“, posted with vodpod

Beautiful Unit, the latest venture from the Trust Me I’m A Thief record label (Jape, Redneck Manifesto, Si Schroder, Warlords of Pez), are set to embark upon a tour with a difference this October as they utilise a spate of unconventional sites around the country. Playing in everything from the back of a van in a carpark to a disused ESB sub station, the band explain that ‘the idea is to break down the barrier between performer and spectator …we’re getting rid of the stage’.

Beautiful Unit’s music  uses repetitive grooves and 8 bit sampling to explore their music’s possibilities and test the  limits of sonic manipulation. The project, entitled ‘New Sounds, Differnt Spaces’, will be complemented by visuals courtesy of Hector Castelles and the Dublin leg of the tour will be brought to us in conjunction with the fantastic Dublin Electronic Arts Festival (DEAF).

Tour Dates

10th October: Cork city

in conjunction with Triskel Arts Centre in a disused ESB Sub Station at 4pm. ADM FREE

11th October: Clonakilty

De Barras. 8pm ADM FREE

16th October: Sligo

in Conjunction with The Niland and Model Arts in a disused shop front yet to be announced. 8pm ADM FREE

22ND-25TH October: Temple Bar, Dublin 2

in conjunction with Dublin Electronic Arts Festival from a van in Temple Bar.

Time and place to be announced on Twitter 24 hours in advance. ADM FREE

30th October: Dundrum, Dublin 16

in the Hay Barn at Airfield House. 8pm ADM €8/€12

1st November: Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny

The carpark of Eddie Murphys pub from the back of the van. 6pm ADM FREE