Change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tis the season of change. First off I’ve changed colleges. Having finished my law degree I’ve fecked off up To NUI Galway to pursue journalism. Which ties in with my second change, the city. I knew nothing about Galway as little as 3 weeks ago but am settling in nicely, getting lost among the side streets and finding out that people here love to give directions to a lost langer from Cork.

I’m also calling it a day with ‘I caught you a delicious bass’ for various reasons, 10 of which involve it’s ridiculous length for a blog title. But fear not loyal reader(s) I will continue to post my ramblings on the wild wide web, just over the road at gypsieswithknives.wordpress.com. The new blog will hopefully have some sort of structure, being mainly music based and get more love and attention than this auld yoke.

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Festival Watch: Melt!

 

So you may be asking yourself, what is Melt! festival? Where does it go on? And if I’ve never even heard of it why does it get included in such an exclusive (or more realistically, lazy) list? Well it’s a pretty exciting music festival located outside Berlin and is the first stop on my 6 week inter railing excursion, so this post is fairly self-indulgent but shur feck it.

 Considering I’ll be at the festival in 3 days time I know alarmingly little about the event, what I do know is that it has a cracking line-up combining household international acts with small German favourites. According to Wikipedia the festival is described by its organisers as electronic meets rock and the lineup does nothing to betray this assertion with plenty to keep rockers and ravers happy. The average attendance is under 20,000 rendering Melt! one of the more intimate European gatherings. Aside from the music attractions apparently include a museum of modern machines and a lake, perfect for those over-heated gig goers in need of a dip. Kicking off this Friday, the running order has been available for a while and impressive though the lineup is, a disgraceful level of clashing is sure to leave yours truly with a few tough choices. Heres my provisional plan:

Friday: 16:40 Midlake, 19.30 Pantha du Prince, 20.30 Two Door Cinema Club (over Jaime Xx), 22.00 Delphic (over Health and Jonsi), 23.00 Four Tet (over The Xx and Yeasayer), 1.00 Kele (only some of his set), 1.40 Foals, 3.30 Kode 9,  5.30 Simian Mobile Disco.

Saturday: 18.00 Futureheads, 18.45 Holy Ghost!, 19.30 Blood Red Shoes (end of their set), 21.00 Friendly Fires (over Darwin Deez), 22.00 Miike Snow (over The Big Pink and Jaime T), 23.30 DJ Shadow (over The Dirty Projectors), 3.00 Moderat (start of set only), 3.45 A-Track,  5.00 Tiga.

Sunday: 19.30 Fred Falke, 21.30 Goldfrapp, 22.15 Fake Blood, 23.15 Massive Attack, 2.00 Crookers.

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Wold Cup Post

It’s basic human nature to indulge an absurd level of expectation when rare celebrations, such as the World Cup roll around. Equally natural is the tendency to suppress the almost inevitable disappointment with such occasions, convincing oneself that what is unfolding is just as wonderful as we had all hoped and dreamed. So lets just nip that bit of nature in the bud and admit that World Cup 2010 was pretty shit. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t without its moments, and Germany and Uruguay can consider themselves absolved from blame providing arguably the Cups best entertainment in the somewhat farcical third/fourth place play-off. But overall WC 2010 will be remembered as rather forgettable.

On paper it ran according to plan with Spain, who have by some distance the best squad in the world, capturing their first WC trophy beating a dogged Dutch side. While this current Spanish squad may be worthy of wold domination, their play rarely suggested as much over the month, losing their opening match to a nothing Switzerland outfit and scraping out four 1-0 victories en route to glory. As for the Netherlands, they flattered to deceive for the most part, while they impressed against lower opposition in the early stages, the final revealed them a team built to kick lumps out of the opposition and rely on the wizardry of Schneider and Robben to get them the goals.

Our memory of World Cups gone by is coloured by whatever drama arose in the latter stages of the competition. With this in mind I refused to get dejected by the Cups slow start, it was bound to pick up once we hit the last 16. But it simply didn’t. When I strain to think on encounters I was genuinely happy to witness far too few come to mind ( Brazil v. Ivory Coast, Argentina v. Mexico, Argentina v. Germany, Germany v. England, Uruguay v. Holland, Uruguay v. Germany). What we really wanted to see was the best players performing to their capabilities on the world stage, what we got was a relatively non-existent Ronaldo albeit playing in a poor Portugal side, a Messi who tried hard but had nothing like the influence he’s shown for Braca, a Kaka who offered nothing and a Torres who looked so ponderous it was almost Berbatov-esque.

What we did get was confirmation that Alex Ferguson wasn’t crazy when he signed Diego Forlan, the striker carried Uruguay much further than even they could have hoped for. Germany, with scant regard for banishing stereo-types were efficiency personified. Though it may not have seen it at the time the injury to Mikael Ballack my have been a blessing as Loew found the perfect midfield balance in Khedira, Schweinsteiger and the dazzling Ozil. The inexperience of a squad with an average age of 25 came to light in a semi-final against Spain which mirrored Barcelona’s domination of Man Utd in the 2009 Champions League final.

And England, where to begin? Capitulation was their destiny long before they boarded the plane to SA but the manner of their exit was nothing short of humiliating, so much for the golden generation eh? What will annoy English fans the most is that after all the hype they never really turned up at the competition. When a painful 1-0 victory over Slovenia is greeted with declarations of “we’re back” you know you’re in trouble. Capello’s credentials are not up for debate, the man is a top-notch manager but he may have misfired in SA. Failure to adapt a system that clearly wasn’t working showed poor planning and provoked fear that England had no plan B. In hindsight the British media may come to concede that a team with players like Upson, Heskey and Shaun Wright-Philips was never likely to be crowned world champions.

So it’s over, and we’re left to wait another four years to get overly excited, forget all about how bad 2010 was and get let down all over again (does anybody remember how bad WC 2006 was? utter shit!!). Spain, the best team in the World are fittingly recognised as such while Germany, the best team of the cup must wait four long years.

Good riddance to a Wold Cup defined by the lack of goal line technology, a dodgy ball and vuvu-fucking-zelas.

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Festival Watch: Electric Picnic

Oxegen takes main stage next weekend as 80,000 music lovers and 160,000 slabs of Bavaria descend upon Punchestown to witness the likes of Eminem, Jay-Z, Arcade Fire and more. All the while the lineup to Oxegen’s somewhat more refined older cousin Electric Picnic discreetly grows more and more impressive.

EP offers and altogether different experience to Oxegen. The capacity is under half and the acts tend to be a little less mainstream targeting a different audience. Diversity is abundant at Stradbally’s best weekend with prams and Zimmer frames as welcome as glow-sticks and Buckfast. While Oxegen relies on chart-toppers to draw in the masses, EP’s lineup combines household names (The Frames, Mumford and Sons) with old school legends (Roxy Music and Leftfield) as well as cult favourites (Bonobo, Fever Ray). The range of genres on display is a bit more varied with acts catering to ravers, moshers and everyone in between.

Electric Picnic is a music and arts festival, and the event serves up more than just great tunes. The Body and Soul area has all kinds of wacky and fun exhibitions as well as poetry, film and gaeilge for those who stray from the stage area.

The lineup has yet to be completed but it already makes for compelling reading. If I manage to beg, steal or borrow the money for a ticket come September here’s who I’ll have on my must see list;
Fang Island,
Caribou,
LCD Soundsystem,
And So I Watch You From Afar,
The Redneck Manifesto,
Crystal Castles,
Friendly Fires,
The Bloody Beetroots,
Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip,
Bonobo,
Massive Attack,
The National,
Modest Mouse,
Mumford and Sons,
Hot Chip,
Fever Ray,
Sebastian Leger,
Jackbeats,
Joker & Nomad,
James V McCMorrow,
Field Music,
Villagers,
Memory Tapes.

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June Playlist

Pretty much all of these songs were found around the first week of June as since then I’ve immersed myself in hip-hop trying to get a grip on a genre which is desperatly lacking in my iTunes, a post on this topic is in the making, meanwhile some has crept into this months offering.

1. Nas and Damian Marley – As We Enter
2. M.I.A. – XXXO (remix ft. Jay-Z)
3. Klaxons – Flashover
4. The Drums – Forever and Ever Amen
5. The Acorn – Restoration (four tet remix)
6. Kendal Johansson – Blue Moon
7. Zola Jesus – I Can’t Stand
8. Janelle Monae – Cold War
9. CEO – Come With Me
10. Boxsharp – The Green
11. Lorn – Glass and Silver
12. The Little Ones – Lovers Who Uncover (Crystal Castles remix)
13. Coer De Pirate – Comme Des Enfants (Le Matos Andy Carmichael remix)

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Festival Watch: Oxegen

So I had these great plans to profile some of Europe’s biggest festivals giving my two cents on what’s the most exciting event to catch this summer. Alas time has passed me by and two of the super-heavyweights have already delivered their respective knockout blows, Primavera and Glastonbury both appear to have gone down a treat with all those lucky enough to attend. As my previous ultra-pretentious Oxegen piece was getting plenty of traffic, I decided I needed to present a more accurate appraisal with this year’s event only around the corner.

It’s easy for my opinion of Oxegen as a music festival to be marred by flashbacks to 2007′s mudfest which was dominated by future convicts pissing on/burning tents and racing to see how could pass out earliest in the day BUT it would be unfair and plain silly not to recall that amazing Daft Punk performance or the delayed but ever-so-awesome showing by Muse as well as countless other memorable moments. When I dig even deeper into the memory pit to the simpler, sunnier days of Oxegen 2005 I’m met be fond images of sun-bathing gig-goers, a sublime lineup and farmers tans for everyone at a festival that was beginning to make a real name for itself. When you look at who’s going to be taking the stage at Punchestown this July it’s hard not to be tempted.

Oxegen doesn’t jump out as the most diverse in terms of the genres of music it caters for focusing primarily on indie-pop and dance but what is undeniable is the appeal of the artists they have snapped up in these areas. Eye-catching performers are dotted across all stages too with Heineken Green Spheres and 2fm/Hot Press Academy stages boasting acts which will drag even the most lethargic/hung over attendees from the main stage.

While finances forbid me from from going to Oxegen before embarking on a 6 week inter-railing trip, here are my weekend must-see acts(timetable clashes not accounted for, I fucking hate timetable clashes):

Friday: Villagers, Frightened Rabbit, Fatboy Slim, God is an Astronaut, Plan B, Jay-Z,  Arcade Fire, Vitalic, Erol Alkan, Simian Mobile Disco.

Saturday: The Drums, Kele, Bombay Bicycle Club, Yeasayer, Calvin Harris, Hot Chip, Cathy Davey, Ellie Goulding, Rise Against, Two Door Cinema Club,  Muse, Kasabian, Florence + the Machine, Dizzy Rascal.

Sunday: Mumford & Sons, We Are Scientists, Chase & Status, Fake Blood, The Golden Filter, Broken Social Scene, Delphic, Local Natives, Laura Marling, The Prodigy, Eminem.

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Making friends with Enemies

We’ve Been Talking is the eagerly anticipated debut album from Wicklow post-rockers Enemies. The album was officially launched last Friday the 11th June at Whelans but us sneaky Corkonians gone and grabbed ourselves a preview last Thursday when the quartet rocked the Quad bar with support from local heros Elk. I even managed to get my hands on a copy of the album, it was all very cloak and dagger.

It was about this time last year when I stumbled across Alpha Waves, the band’s first EP and was well and truly blown away. Post-rock and math-rock are two genres in which Ireland boasts an embarrassment of riches including household names such as The Redneck Manifesto, And So I Watch You From Afar and Bats, to name just three. With these genres so densely populated you’d have to wonder how any act can stand out from the crowd. In Enemies case it boils down to raw talent and a brilliantly polished sound, a sound which earned them a tour of Japan based on Alpha Waves alone.

As they rocked the Quad in a performance that bore the signs of the appetizer before Fridays main course it was undeniable that the new material represented a shift from what had gone before. Alpha Waves was a quint-essential post-rock release, it ticked all the boxes, the five tracks stretched out over thirty-six minutes with Out of the C clocking up 9.49. The EP is a feast of crescendos served on a bed of upbeat pick-tapping which bares utmost fidelity to post-rocks tendency towards build-climax-rebuild progressions.

I wondered whether it was merely the volume of the live performance masking the bands customary intricacy, but the album confirms a slightly different direction. In a test of duration We’ve Been Talking beats Alpha Waves by a mere two and a half minutes despite having four more songs. Enemies have traded in the seven minute epics for shorter, dancier and catchier (can instrumental songs be catchy?) tunes. It’s not that the guitar signatures are any less carefully crafted rather they’re designed to create songs which encourage you dance like an idiot rather than stand perfectly still in awe-induced paralysis.

The album has a remarkably uplifting sound which permeates through each song, ‘Nag Champa’ and ‘Fierce Pit Bosses’ would make fitting inclusions on a soundtrack for a Ned Flanders biopic. ‘Gingerly’ and ‘We’ve Been Talking’ are two short beauties in the middle of the album which portray a previously absent appreciation for simplicity. We’ve Been Talking jigs and reels its way along nicely and is already raising its hand for inclusion among the best Irish releases of the year when we encounter ‘Creamist’, ‘Piano’ and ‘Morse Code’ the LP’s final and strongest moments. The dual drumming on ‘Piano’ engages perfectly with the noisey guitar and probing bass while Morse Code again deploys two drum kits before a raucous display of guitar-tapping and symbol crashing brings the curtain down on a brilliant album.

Elk’s performance on the night can’t go unmentioned, the trio have just finished recording thier latest EP and based on first hearing the songs seem to retain the characteristic energy while bringing other elements to the table, daycint.

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