Author Archives: Mike McGrath-Bryan

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Pictured above: Scullion, My Bloody Valentine, Therapy?, James Vincent McMorrow, Rusangano Family… and the Joshua Trio

Last week, in our weekly, week-ending €25 Golden Discs voucher bonanza, we asked YOU to pinpoint your all-time favourite live Irish music moments. The specific format for the answer went along these lines…

‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was_________________________at_____________________because____________’

It was a serious struggle this time around to pin down a winner, which just goes to display the breadth and depth of our little island’s talent over the years (so support it where you can, please).

But there can only be one winner…

Wait for It… is the poster’s name. Talking My Bloody Valentine at SFX (unfortunately, no bootlegs of the event are in embeddable format online, so we’ve included Only Shallow from their Vancouver gig that year above).

“The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was My Bloody Valentine at the SFX in May, 1992 because to this day, I have never had a more visceral experience of live music. Including seeing the band themselves again twice, indoors, since they came back in 2008, I have never heard anything so loud. Ticketholders left the venue to listen from the footpath outside. Even wearing earplugs, people still had to cover their ears, especially during ‘You Made Me Realise’.

Added to this was a light show that seemed specifically designed to disorient and confuse (such as the blindingly bright lights turned on the audience during YMMR’s ‘holocaust’ section). I stood by the sound desk and saw staff from the SFX begging for the volume to be lowered, met with firm headshakes. I can’t say it was an entirely pleasant experience, but it was one I’ll never forget, which is what makes it the best.”

That’s what you want, in fairness.

Other runners from the shortlist, in (near-)chronological order…

Fiach: The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was: Scullion, at O’Flaherty Theatre UCG 1981, because of the sheer passion, talent and pleasure in performance that was so obvious from each of the members of the group. They had just released ‘Balance and Control’, so some of the songs were new to me, and each one blew my young mind. Sitting in the front row, I was agog at the veins in Philip King’s neck pulsating through the tragedy of ’18’, the energy of ‘Tension’ and the fun of ‘Can I Have My Money Back’ by Gerry Rafferty. The sheer range of emotions from the whole group was enthralling. Greg Bolan’s fingers flying all over the frets, and Sonny Condell’s quirky comments all helped to make this my favourite gig by any group ever.’

Frilly Keane: ‘Hot Press Battle of the Bands thing in Henrys. 88’ish. A Nordie Crowd called Trenchtown (no streaming audio to link to – Mike). That lead singer would have given Thatcher an orgasm. I know they came second in their heat so didn’t progress. If anyone has a clue, please let me know what happened to them. Anyway around the same time, like that same year, An Emotional Fish, Trinity Ball – Arts Block. Incredible, and probably one of their very early gigs. Also the support that night, Cypress Mine, who had a great track : ‘Sugar Beet God’. Zig and Zag used ta’ sing it. Anyway, all long forgotten. Pity about Trenchtown, we missed out.’

Lorcan Nagle: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was Therapy? at Sunstroke ’94, because they didn’t let up from the moment they hit the stage, and blew every band there out of the water – including the Chili Peppers at their height. I saw some guy wander out of the moshpit holding one of his shoes with a big cut on his head, telling everyone who asked if he was alright that it was all just good fun.’

Liam Deliverance: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was The Jimmy Cake at the Tivoli, around 1996 because it was a smallish gig and it was easy to get up front. The band consisted of around 12 members playing a wonderful variety of instruments including accordion and clarinet. They were described as experimental rock which didn’t mean a whole lot to me at the time plus I had no expectations as to what a band called the “Jimmy Cake” would be like, I thought it was a silly name but was to quickly learn not to judge a book by it’s cover. They played a set with each member giving their all and producing a wonderful experience, your head would be going from one musician to another, songs were 7/8 or minutes long and the audience was left feeling they had seen something special and unique. Have a Jimmy Cake CD somewhere, must have a look for it.’

HyperGlobalCompuMegaNet: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was James Vincent McMorrow upstairs in Whelan’s before he was signed circa 2008/09. His songs weren’t as ‘produced’ as they are now, it was just him, his guitar, and a ridiculous voice that kept the small crowd captivated.’

Miriam: ‘The best live performance from an Irish act I have ever witnessed was Rusangano Family at Dolans, Limerick because they are an unbelievable live performance of Irish hip-hop. They do loads for promoting multiculturalism and always support young and upcoming acts. Their energy is top class and frankly they are one of the best live acts I have ever seen.’

James Chimney: The Joshua Trio in the Baggot Inn sometime in the late 80’s. They knew what the little scut was up to!’

Golden Discs

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Brigid Mae Powerethereal Irish folk dreaminess

What you may need to know…

01. Over gentle waves of textures and reverberations comes the voice of singer/composer and visual artist Brigid Mae Power.

02. Having existed on the fringes of Irish folk for a number of years, she cut her teeth on her first full-length, I Told You The Truth, recorded in St. Nicholas’ Church in Galway. Leaving Ireland and heading to Oregon to record with American folk musician Peter Broderick in his studio proved to be a turning point.

03. Streaming above is the video for single I Left Myself For a While, from her self-titled “proper” debut record, available via Tompkins’ Square Records. Early solo work also available on her Bandcamp.

04. Headlining Quarter Block Party festival, on the weekend February 3rd-5th in Cork City Centre. More info here.

Thoughts: Some lovely moments amid the melancholy, resonating with subtle drone, and the atmosphere of the studio.

Brigid Mae Power

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The following is the story of how Cork-resident DJ and producer T-Woc assembled his mixtape Little Woccie – Computerized, a tribute to ’80s radio, streaming above in two sides of virtual C90.

Released last January it flew waaaay under people’s radars considering the hassle he went to, so here’s the story in full…

Facebook just reminded me that this is a year old, so thought I should mention, as quite a few people I realize didn’t twig it, that there was no Little Woccie show on Capitol Radio in 198?.

I made this tape around last December. I wanted to do a digital mix tape for a while, but can’t really compete tune wise with heads like Copenhagen’s Firehouse crew, Deadlydragon et al… and was listening to lots of old radio cassette rips at the time, so thought I’d make a tribute to the ’80s taped-off-the-radio vibe, computerized riddim heat, crappy but addictive ’80s ads I grew up with, and squeeze in some giggles along the way.

Took me fucking ages, months actually. Tracking down those extra few 7″s that had to be on it, mixing the set down onto a reel to reel, trawling through hours of ’80s Youtube commercials and radio mixtapes, mastering record-pause dubbing on a cassette player, and finding nice radio hiss on Johnny Tasty’s little sister’s Hello Kitty radio.

Unfortunately the amount of work going into something doesn’t always equal popularity and it kinda flopped. I think maybe some of the in-gags are a bit obscure but fuck it, was a vibe putting it together.

He then proceeds to address the fictional backstory of the mixtape…

Little Woccie was supposedly on Capital in 198?, even if it was 1989 that would probably have made me the youngest radio DJ in history at 14.

I got the slot through my uncle ‘Ulich Wood’. My man who taped the show ‘Easy’ never lived in Cockfosters, but he was born on the exact same day as me in 1977, which is how long Steelie & Cleevie say they’ve been working together since in the documentary before my show.

…before issuing a guide to the retro glories thereon. Grab a tay.

There is also a clip of the weather (“this summer is going to be a scorcha!”), John Peel mentions later in the tape he is looking forward to his Festive Fifty Christmas show.

In the first ad segment (before the machines took over), the (popular footwork brand) Clarks commercial talks about treating the kids right, which runs straight into Mystic’s Youth Get Tricked.

Shortly after, the radio loses reception, and tunes into a Tom Baker Doctor Who radio show which is actually a TV commercial from 1980 for the short lived Prime Computers company, the sound effects from this turn up all over the rest of the tape.

Stone cold classic Scotch Videocassette commercial is also a TV commercial (you might remember Archie the Skeleton – rerecord don’t fade away), took me ages to get the fade away to distort each run.

Melle Mel sting for Mike Allen show, Mike Allen had just passed away when I made this, well worth tracking down the rips of his early hip hop and electro show on Capital called the Mike Allen show. RIP.

The radio loses reception and ends up on another channel with Tim Westwood, pretty sure Westwood was on Capital for the whole of the 80s (and back there today, cheesy as ever).

Kaos pad’s distinctive filter is pretty evident on the mix, the FX box wasn’t invented till 1999. We get the results from Wembley, Alan Partridge’s favourite Norwich City doing well. Steely & Cleevie from the TV doc again run the workings of the DMX drum machine, coincidentally over one of their own killer DMX cuts, Carl Meeks’ Danger.

Back to back 80s commercial killers ‘Allo Tosh got a Toshiba’ and the ‘Ariston and on and on’, neither were radio ads. Dunno why I didn’t put the Pato Banton version of ‘Allo Tosh’ on. Fail. A lot of the other ads such as for Casio, Commodore are TV ads as well, we got the UK’s TV growing up (S4C!) but not really its radio.

We lose reception again and treated to the Cars – Who’s Gonna Drive You Home, swiftly followed by The Dollar Van Man… Which as some keen spotter on Blood and Fire pointed out wasn’t released till 1997.

Cheesy wine ad which alludes to infidelity (‘is it because it is someone else’s wife?’), couple trickster jams after this.

And on and on and on.

I actually submitted this as a sound design project to get into my masters in college in the end so wasn’t a total flop, as I got it.

Tales of hard work and meticulous care like this abound all over the Irish music scene, regardless of genre. This is just one of them.

T-Woc

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The boys in black are back.

Therapy? return with a six-date run around Ireland in April, their most extensive bout of home touring in years, extending their European acoustic jag, previewed in the video above, accompanied by a snippet of live tearjerker Gone, newly re-recorded as part of an acoustic album available exclusively on these dates.

The band released album #14 last year, setting a record for Irish acts, and aside from a busy year of touring, turn their attention to platter number fifteen later this year.

Tickets available here. Cork and Dundalk on sale now, the rest going out Thursday.

Ganglions

Ganglionsmath-pop-punk with a Cork accent via Sheffield

What you may need to know…

01. Based in Sheffield, but sporting a pronounced Cork accent via vocalist Eimear O’Donovan, as well as drummery from Clonakilty man Brian Scally, Ganglions’ crossovers of pop, punk and math-rock make for a busy noise.

02. Eagle-eyed Irish music observers may remember O’Donovan from her time with Cork pop band KVX, and her memorable contributions to Bantum’s first album, on singles Oh My Days, and alongside Owensie on Roll Pt. 2.

03. Streaming above is the band’s self-released debut E.P., FETCH!, put out in February of last year and available for streaming and download.

04. The band plays Quarter Block Party, on the first weekend of February. Time and venue to be confirmed on release of the festival’s brochure. This follows their Irish debut at Cork’s Fred Zeppelin’s in December, in support of Terriers.

Thoughts: Bright, bristling, surfy, tappy, intricate, high-energy power.

Ganglions

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Dublin Digital Radio, as mentioned in our radio overview a few months back, has been hard at work forging a genuine alternative for the nation’s airwaves, from its HQ at the Jigsaw arts centre in Dublin.

As they prepare for their twelfth week on the airwaves, they’ve given us a few choice cuts from the last week to share, embedded above.

Writes DDR’s Sean Finnan of the shows, embedded above:

Here at Dublin Digital Radio we’re celebrating our twelfth week on the digital waves. Since our initial broadcast we have expanded to over 50 residents and we aim to keep expanding, to become the go to platform for alternative music in Ireland while all the while being a community run station.

Some of our highlights for the past week include Little Gem’s Indie Hour featuring the best of the Irish underground, Breen McNamara’s Beneath The Bricks, a fortnightly exploration of anything from forgotten African sounds to ambient soundscapes and Emma Cawley’s feature on the Dark Entries Record Label.

Listen in live, and see the weekend schedule.

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Gig venues are going bang left, right and centre these days, so this one will be no surprise to some, but hugely sad – the Pine Lodge, overlooking the beach in Myrtleville, Co. Cork, is under new management, with the venue’s old gig business to be wound down.

Sez the venue’s incredibly well-maintained fansite:

Sad news folks, the Pine Lodge is now under new ownership. The venue is currently closed for repair and renovations and it is not expected that the new owners will have the same interest in live music.

Thank you to Paddy & crew for flying the flag for so long and to the many top acts who performed in Myrtleville, you will not be forgotten.

Sad times, especially for a great amount of the present Cork city scene, many of whom cut their teeth in various capacities, in this place among others.

Pine Lodge Myrtleville

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Jonny RepCork indie/pop supergroup

What you may need to know…

01. Indie with a dose of humour and a side-serving of nineties psych-worship is the order of the day for Cork outfit Jonny Rep (named for the Dutch soccer legend).

02. Beginning life as a sideproject of members of Leeside bands Rulers of the Planet, LMNO Pelican, The Shanks and Semi, the band has been active for the bones of the last decade, with intermittent single releases.

03. Streaming above is new single Call Me Soon, taken from upcoming album Cold Sunbeam.

04. Cold Sunbeam is due for release on February 24th, with launch gigs and release formats to be announced.

Thoughts: A self-effacing riff on the Stone Roses’ grandeur masks some fairly prescient social commentary.

Jonny Rep

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Jar Jar Jr.DIY beats from Cork

What you may need to know…

01. Jar Jar Jr (or jar jar jr, to use the proper nomenclature) is the nom-de-plume of Cork beatmaker Robert O’Halloran.

02. He’s amassed quite the cult following for himself, particularly in the last year, where fan-made videos of his tracks have racked up massive views, including over 300,000 for fan visuals for his track ambitions.

03. The wider music internet has taken notice, with playlist site/aggregator Indie Shuffle placing him in their hip-hop best-of for 2016, alongside DJ Shadow, Chance the Rapper and Jurassic 5. As you do.

04. Streaming above is the video for ah well, released last month via his own Soundcloud, and featuring UK rapper/poet Looms. Visuals directed by Aleks Podhorowska.

Thoughts: Progressing from jazzier beatmaking to lo-fi compositions and collaborations in recent times, Jar Jar Jr.’s 2016 surely serves as a portent for bigger things this year.

Jar Jar Jr.

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The line-up for South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas is taking shape, and today’ saw the announcements for the complement of Irish artists headed over with Music in Ireland.

Artists of note include neo-soul vocalist LOAH (pictured), jazzcore headwreckers Robocobra Quartet, Northern folk artists Ciaran Lavery & Jealous of the Birds, and Dublin outfit Cloud Castle Lake.

Full announcement and more over at Nialler9.