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Updated: 2017-12-24T12:14:43.147+00:00

 



Winter Aid - The Murmur of the Land

2017-04-29T18:21:58.844+01:00



seamless="" src="https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3449582109/size=small/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=de270f/track=1078099419/transparent=true/" style="border: 0; height: 42px; width: 100%;">The Murmur of the Land by Winter Aid

Out, out with you
into the fields
hands white in dark soil warm
with the softness of dead things
past the patch where you found the bones of two lost calves
two years too late

Out there
while the sky looms high and grey
and black birds slow and skim in the glare
out there
you dirty your hands in the mucky hours
pulling out limbs in your confusion
hunting for stories and sounds
slick and wet, you drag them free
pulling anything with a hint of colour
or a trace of warmth
you hold them to your shoulder and pull
and strain and tear
until they give

Skitter and skid on the road
the long dipping necks of the streetlamps
sway to follow you
like great weeds that forgot they were small
the shine on the wet tarmac trickles around your feet
woodlice and spiders drip from the roots you bear
inky and wriggling
onward with the weight of it behind you
the mute protest of your game
struggling to be free
to sink back into its mire

allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="380" src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify%3Aalbum%3A0pbFkl9hp1LfJ4qPzLr2FM" width="300">


Suddenly you are upon the grotto
blue and bright in the gloaming light
a faint buzz of old electricity
and eyes closed as if asleep
as if keeping watch on this tiny corner of Kerry was too much
and this face had to turn away
as if any eyes could look and not see
the contortions in the bodies in the land
here in front of this face you leave your weight
to sing its hymn.





Winter Aid (and why I've been so quiet)

2013-11-11T20:23:00.521+00:00


If you've been wondering what exactly I've been up to since I stopped posting regularly, this is it.

seamless="" src="http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=4098577772/size=medium/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/transparent=true/" style="border: 0; height: 120px; width: 100%;">The Wisp Sings EP by Winter Aid
I've been making an album. If I'm honest, I've been making it in one way or another since before I started writing here, eight years ago. It's starting to take shape, and as it nears completion, it made sense to put a few songs out as an EP - which I did today with the help of the wonderful Bluestack Records. It's three songs long, and I'm very proud of it.

As if it wasn't already clear, this means the blog is taking a backseat. I'll come back to it before too long, I'm sure. In the meantime, music news and recommendations will be coming on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Thanks for reading, whoever you are.



I used to go to school around here

2013-08-02T12:24:59.402+01:00


frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F101473911" width="100%">
I don't really know much about Saint Yorda. I don't know when they started writing, or formed into a band, but I'd like to imagine this was a song half-written after school one day, that has stayed with its writer on and off for a full decade, flitting in and out of thoughts like a moth, always returning with a lightness that sticks to the glimmering chorus. It's quiet in a teenage band way, nobody making too much of an impression if they can help it, yet for all that the song has a personality that grows over it's three and three quarter minutes, becoming so subtly insistent that you play it again to try and figure out what you heard in it. It's deceptively catchy, and it makes me think this is a band that knows what they're doing.

{website}



Reinventing the Wheel

2013-04-28T15:46:58.179+01:00



allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="100" src="http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/track=2922720219/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=ae566b/" style="display: block; height: 100px; position: relative; width: 400px;" width="400">Reinventing the Wheel by The David Nelligan Thing
I rarely post more often than once a month nowadays, which is clearly just how it's going to be from now on. The advantage in this is knowing that when I do emerge to point towards a song and go "wow!" (which is basically what I've been doing here for the past eight years and one month), you know that the song is worth listening to.

This is such a song. It spins and settles and hops about the room and, initially, seems far to cheery to sit among all the other bands in my record collection, but there's more to it than is at first obvious. David Nelligan seems to have a pretty good grip and what makes a song catchy, which I didn't realise until I found myself humming this song endlessly yesterday, as though it were already an old friend.

The album is out now, and the whole thing seems to be rather wonderful. So go listen! Look! Wow!



The Revival Hour - Copper House

2013-03-09T14:20:51.199+00:00


allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="100" src="http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/track=3219750483/size=grande/bgcol=000000/linkcol=d39296/" style="display: block; height: 100px; position: relative; width: 300px;" width="300">Copper House by The Revival Hour
The vocals start off a little bit shrill in this one, a ghost in a house party of night and glass and liquid and full of people, striving to have its haunt heard. The voice twists and turns, it implores for affection and vaunts its own dominance at the same time. It is two sides of a relationship. Drums break down the door like the secret police, people flee into the winter's night, and things take a fairly dramatic turn for the catchy.  The song starts to collapse like a building, and runs away like a hunt, through the snowy woods, guns firing, solid trees exploding into matchsticks and tinder, burning only with cold.

The Revival Hour's record is a tremendous mix of colours and feelings. It's a melted palette where everything is blurred and blended, tending towards darkness, but with enough flashes of teeth and dark genius to vindicate every daring leap made here. David Stith sings like he's never done before, and he seems to be a different man on each song.

This is a fine album, and I recommend you listen to it at once.





my favourite songs of 2012

2013-01-22T10:23:09.197+00:00

I was busy this year. I've noticed that in the same way the work you need to get finished expands to fill the time you allot to it, the music you want to listen to contracts to fit into the time you try to set aside for it. I'm sure there are things I've missed, but I'm glad I didn't miss any of these songs, each of which is honest-to-God special, and kept my world a little nicer this year. 17. The Dying Seconds - All in the DarkThis song makes me think of things that belong in dreams. Not because it is surreal or absurd or anything like that, but because it is suited to a particular mood: a Sunday morning alone, half-awake, in a dream state. Dreams are populated by the everyday, just without the basic rules of real life. I sometimes dream of a world populated exclusively by people I know, and places I've been, and it's pretty nice. This song sings that kind of waking dream, where everywhere you go is somewhere you once were, with her. Every newspaper headline you see on the train is something she once said. Every bus that trundles by you is one you both took somewhere, once. Every song you hear is this, one way or another. 16. Beat Radio - Dreaming Wide AwakeI find it weird to live somewhere that is far from the sea. I feel at a disadvantage, like I haven't built up a relationship with that kind of world, like I'm not sure how to deal with that much land. It's not that I'm a swimmer or anything like that. I don't really like the water. But when it's not there, I feel it by its absence.I miss the ocean. It's good to have something so huge that you can't see the other side of it. You can't even be sure it has an end. The Atlantic is a weird character in the story of my childhood, perpetually looking in, sending tumult to rattle our windows at all the dramatic moments, creeping along the beach reminding me of what's there, claiming lives from the cliffs every few years. When I travel it's still there - this storm is something, sure, but when I was a kid, I remember the night the window exploded like ice. This lake is nice, but where I live people get caught in the caves at high tide and get cut to ribbons on the rocks if they're lucky. That kind of thing. 15. Adam & The Amethysts - Drinking in L.A. {cover}It's not as good as the original, but it is sad in a nice way, a way that calls to mind a past golden age, whenever Adam Waito heard the song and decided what it meant to him. 14. Burywood - The Flawless ChangeBurywood's new album is something of a departure from his last, and I couldn't quite figure out what the change was at first. Everything sounds a bit more natural, a little more assured, a little less agonized-over. 'The Flawless Change' is something sweet and hummable enough to speak for itself, and it roams the wilds, unwilling to be penned in for your enjoyment.13. Grimes - OblivionI'm starting to see a theme in some of these songs: the moments of weird fear of being out alone in isolated darkness, a night that feels unexpectedly old and massive, a sea above you, settling on you, to be explored. This gorgeous song is a bit like that, but it follows a heroine, clothed in white, fragile but fearless.12. Cathy Davey - The Eh Eh SongI think I'd probably find it very hard to write a song about a dog. I used to have a great dog, but I don't think I could write properly about the relationship without it sounding like something that should be a children's story. So, I am impressed on several levels by this song, since it is, first of all, utterly lovely, but also because it manages to address the depth of feeling people can have for animals in an honest and kind way, without once veering off into novelty or wry amusement, even when Rex himself joins in. There's no small amount of talent involved in this.11. Alt-J - BreezeblocksThis song is annoying and trivial and dark and indecisive and altogether a bit much but it is also emi[...]



always looking away

2013-01-02T15:48:29.104+00:00


width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mvSIzYjPHts" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Peter Broderick - I've Tried

Peter Broderick remains one of the finest songwriters that I know, and what he does here is both refreshingly new and yet, at the same time, of the same cloth as his previous achievements. It's heavy and blurry and feels a bit like wandering around in the morning, before your eyes are fully open, before the mist lifts. It's the comfort of warm clothes and heavy boots. It's the weird human desire to apply narrative, the sense of story that comes if you're there to witness a day's sunrise and sunset. It's a song that stands still and looks around to see where it is, and the listener does the same.

{Buy on iTunes + Google}



I guess I was busy

2012-12-11T23:27:04.666+00:00

allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/iDEzRraYgA8" width="560">

I have two interpretations of this song.

The first derives from the fact that the first time I heard it, I was watching the video at the same time. The video is evocative and merciless. It details the life of Terrence Bliss, in a series of excessively cruel scenes in which we see how truly clutching and self-sustaining someone's loneliness and isolation can be. Terrence displays almost no emotion, and seems to the very picture of alienated resignation. Terrence is a piece of driftwood steadily chipped and drowned and wasted and weakened and toyed with by the sea. You can add him as a friend on Facebook, and he will respond to your messages with a sweet and sincere obliviousness. This video is not very cheery, and yet somehow the song runs alongside it, the sun outside the window, squeaking through the gloom and shadow now and again. It fits.

The second has been coming to me after downloading the song and listening to it further. It's not a happy song, but it is beautiful. It's not warm, but it can be held close to keep off the cold. It is not shiny or crashed with energy, but it is well-worn and comforting, like a piece of wood worn down with love and dedication by a carpenter. It is the reflection of sunlight from an old brass lamp. It is the flicker from the fireplace in a dark house. It is the murmur of the land in the evening.

Also, I love the two first words of the opening line. I'm not sure why.

This has very quickly become one of my favourite Villagers songs, which is no small feat given the esteem in which I hold the music of Conor O'Brien. There are many things I love about the songs he goes away and brings back to us, but in particular I have always loved how well-worn and crafted they sound. You can unravel them and chip them down to one voice and one guitar and they are the same thing underneath, spirited and lively.

Villagers - Ship of Promises {live}

This is a fine example.

{Awayland will be out in January. You can pre-order here.}



An Interview with NO

2012-11-24T12:24:25.713+00:00

NO are perhaps my favourite discovery of the year. They may tread on ground that has been broken by others, but what they're building there is a delight, a feast of catchy melodies and guitar lines, a creation imbued with urgent youth and city-dweller sadness. And damnit, they have great choruses.They're supporting Father John Misty in the Workman's Club tonight, and frontman Bradley was kind enough to respond to some questions over email in a very slightly tongue-in-cheek fashion.How are you?Fantastic thank you, a little tired.. But overall I feel great. How goes the tour?It's been a blur and a blast. Getting to see this many European cities in such a short time is almost overwhelming, I just wish we had more time to explore some of them. But on top of that every night getting to see a band like Father John Misty do their thing has been kinda cool for all of us.It's relatively unusual for a band to be touring outside their own country without having released a debut. Do you think it's something that speaks to being in a band in this decade?I'm not too sure. We love traveling, we love playing live. FJM asked us to come out for this tour and we had to do it. If we get our way when the album comes out we'll be out for as long as we can. For me personally, there's nothing better than waking up in a new city every day and getting to play again.Tell me about Bedroom Empire. How did that get started?Bedroom Empire is our own imprint, or label if you want to call it that. We had to do things legally with tax, etc and needed a name. So, it seemed to make sense because of how NO started from all the demos / EP we recorded in my small Echo Park bedroom - sometimes the lounge too, but 'Lounge Empire' doesn't sound as good.I understand you have joined the formidable roster at Quest Management (Arcade Fire, Björk). How did that come about?We just got to a point as a band where we were spending all day dealing with very not creative things..  We then met a whole slew of managers, and felt that Quest understood us best!Who do you count as influences?Early Victorian Lawn Furniture.What's the band dynamic like? How does a NO song come together?It's always different... Never the same way. Sean just said that's really true.When do you plan to release a full-length album?All things going to plan, we should see it in the first half of 2013.What is your live show like?We have a good time...Your identity as band often comes across as somewhat rooted in LA. How would you explain what that means to someone who's never been?We started NO in a wee neighborhood of LA called Echo Park, and our first two releases have local landmarks infused into the artwork. It almost seems like everyone on my street is in a band, or is dating someone in a band. It's a community or collective of artists that all live in the same part of town and I find it quite inspiring, seeing how hard everyone is always working and being creative.Lastly, what song/book/album/game/film do you insist everyone check out?Backgammon.{Buy + Previously}[...]



The Luyas - Animator

2012-11-04T20:33:28.172+00:00

allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="255" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Yp0XdTIT32M" width="420">
The Luyas - Fifty Fifty

Hallelujah, hello Luyas, I see you have a new album. It is cold and snowy and warm and brittle and wet and gentle and sweet and breathless and all the things good good music should be. It’s not the same as your last record. It has new sounds, and new noises, and it has a way of turning its neck when it looks at you like older music, wiser, less easily amused. There is just the right amount of fucking around. There are beautiful parts where Jessie’s voice careens around the corner like a weightless wisp of web. There are moments where everything falls down the stairs. There are several brilliant bits to nod your head to. There is hypothermia and warm blankets and tea. And I love tea.

You can buy Animator here for $6.99. That is a good idea.



in the dirt

2012-10-01T10:34:29.571+01:00


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The Ambience Affair are celebrating the one year anniversary of the release of their debut, Burials, by making it free to download from their Bandcamp page for a limited time. This is great. The album is great. You would be silly not to avail yourself of their generosity.

They're also cementing their status as one of the finest Irish bands of the moment by headlining HWCH this Friday night at the Button Factory. It should be marvellous.



sleepy lakeside town

2012-07-02T20:29:45.424+01:00



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Beat Radio - Dreaming Wide Awake

I find it weird to live somewhere that is far from the sea. I feel at a disadvantage, like I haven't built up a relationship with that kind of world, like I'm not sure how to deal with that much land. It's not that I'm a swimmer or anything like that. I don't really like the water. But when it's not there, I feel it by its absence.
I miss the ocean. It's good to have something so huge that you can't see the other side of it. You can't even be sure it has an end. The Atlantic is a weird character in the story of my childhood, perpetually looking in, sending tumult to rattle our windows at all the dramatic moments, creeping along the beach reminding me of what's there, claiming lives from the cliffs every few years. When I travel it's still there - this storm is something, sure, but when I was a kid, I remember the night the window exploded like ice. This lake is nice, but where I live people get caught in the caves at high tide and get cut to ribbons on the rocks if they're lucky. That kind of thing.
I don't know how this beautiful, beautiful song links to this, but it makes me nostalgic. It's all a bit better-the-devil-you-know. Like many Beat Radio songs, it's assembled in a way that makes perfect sense, like this song came to its writer with an instruction manual. He makes it look so easy.

{Buy}



aching for my sleep

2012-06-20T19:44:19.615+01:00

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To celebrate the fifth anniversary of its release, Mumblin' Deaf Ro is offering his beautiful album The Herring and the Brine as a free download. It's well worth grabbing, not least for the stunningly wistful 'Brother Peter'.

The album is a collection of folk songs that do not rely on small scale or lo-fi whimsy, but instead act like a garden pretending to be a forest. The themes are large, ranging from drowning men to failed Latin American presidents, and here, a doubtful priest. But despite this scale, it seems like an album that took root and grew in a small typical home, with glass doors and a patio, and this familiarity makes the album relatable, matches every conjured emotion with one you've already known. Brother Peter is a calm and quiet song compared to the others, but it builds the narrator's doubt solidly, with a melody that escapes the singer's soft voice, and a chorus that cuts things down to simplicity, as the lyrics turn honest. It gets itself across clear as a bell, and it's gently beautiful.



The Casanova Wave - The Light

2012-06-19T20:33:17.306+01:00


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="215" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/orHltUBuKcw" width="360">

Irish summer songs are always great in their own special, tempered way. It's like we know what a summer song sounds like, we've heard them all our lives, but we sing them from a place of cold - the same way most Christmas songs are recorded in some sweltering city studio under July sun, and that uncomfortable closeness carries over to the music. The same way people sing love songs one way until they have their heart broken, and sing them a different, better way afterwards.

 This is a summer song by The Casanova Wave - a band on the small-yet-mighty Bluestack Records. It is lovely.



in which I am moved to write

2012-06-18T22:24:16.901+01:00

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(object)
NO - There's a Glow

 This is a city song that's not for city people. I guess I mean someone still young - someone who grew up looking out the kitchen window as night settled over the nothing on the land, surrounded by fields and fields where everything that happened happened over years, underfoot, out of sight. Someone who had their home there, and then found themselves in the city, where night brings harsher light and louder noise, and many intriguing brands of fun.
This song is someone looking for something to hold onto in both worlds. Setting out on their own private frontier while hoping nothing really changes except them. In the end, despite all they put themselves through, and all the bad ideas they embrace in the name of reinvention, it's the disappointment, the being wrong, that changes them.

NO is a band from L.A., and I am extremely glad to be listening to them. This song in particular is the highlight of their (free) EP, all happy and sad in a beautifully night-time-neon way. The closest touchstone might be a less jaded Matt Berninger croon, but they have a different set of influences tucked away to be unveiled at a later date. They are wonderful, and I strongly suspect they have mighty times ahead of them.

 {Jim Carroll introduced me to this band by telling me they were right up my street, and he was absolutely right. That man knows his business.}



The Dying Seconds

2012-03-09T16:00:22.160+00:00

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="220" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/9VeqMOW7u94?fs=1" width="380">

This song makes me think of things that belong in dreams. Not because it is surreal or absurd or anything like that, but because it is suited to a particular mood: a Sunday morning alone, half-awake, in a dream state. Dreams are populated by the everyday, just without the basic rules of real life. I sometimes dream of a world populated exclusively by people I know, and places I've been, and it's pretty nice. This song sings that kind of waking dream, where everywhere you go is somewhere you once were, with her. Every newspaper headline you see on the train is something she once said. Every bus that trundles by you is one you both took somewhere, once. Every song you hear is this, one way or another.

I don't know much about The Dying Seconds yet, but I like them a lot so far.



favourite songs of the year 2011

2012-02-28T23:27:27.371+00:00

2011 was a quiet year here, but that's not because I didn't have any songs to love, or didn't listen to any new music, or because I don't love you. It's just that I've been busy working on all that other stuff that has nothing to do with love and songs, and also, all that other stuff that does.This is the sixth year I've done this list, and it's a little sparser. But the songs that made it here are worth your precious ear-time, every one of them. And if you feel there's one I missed, or you know of one I'd like, I would like you to let me know.22. Andrew Hale - L.A. Noire (Main Theme) height="23" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/xiGKxCAg_0o" width="420">This may well be the first piece of gaming music to make it onto one of these lists, but the distinction doesn't mean too much. This is mournful and lazy at once, settling into its melancholy like a starlet onto a couch, and it evokes all the comfortable sadness of a world going beautifully awry.21. Sandro Perri - Love and Light It's hot outside today. Like, shimmering pavements hot, and everyone's kinda quiet, and a little shocked and awed, if you know what I mean, because it turns out the moon is a girl. A pretty girl, all subtle sway and sexy cast glances, and she's strolling around like she owns the place, which maybe she does. I mean, if it turns out the moon is someone you'd very much like to go to bed with, who knows what else might be going on. I guess this is the kinda thing I'll tell my kids someday. I'll tell them how the moon stayed in the same place in the sky, not yielding to daylight, not moving on. I'll describe how she descended almost imperceptibly, like a balloon at first, but then like a great piece of cloth in the air, grey and dappled. I'll tell them how she descended like a leaf, billowing in her dress past skyscrapers, reflected up high bright and dazzling like in some sort of hall of mirrors, and then settling slowly, the cloth tightening into a dress, the shadows and sparkle falling away like wrapping paper to reveal the woman sitting on the bench there by the river, smiling at us all.20. Sóley - Dance allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="23" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/iRHb2oMiaTg" width="420">This is a song dominated utterly by the presence of the singer, half-tormented, wide-eyed and sleepless, a woman evoking the fears of a child up too late. Nobody dances to this song but her, and she dances alone. The melody is uneven and jolting, perpetually mocking the listener for trying to understand it. It's something dark in the middle of the everyday, not hiding from daylight. It's a love song by a dead woman.19. A Classic Education - I Lost Time  This was the year A Classic Education put out their debut, a collection of music more mature and less impulsive than there earlier jittery pop. They've calmed themselves somewhat, and the songs are a little more sedate for it, or at least they don't rush up to you and tell you everything about themselves in a few minutes. They hang around, revealing their ins and outs the more you listen, until you realise that the chorus here is undisputably catchy, though you didn't realise it initially. You step back and realise that with this record, they've built something to last.18. Bon Iver - PerthThe loneliness and delicacy of his debut seems to have followed Justin from the wilderness into the city, and no amount of beautifully layered guitars or sympathetic brass is going to send it back.17. Keaton Henson - Sarah Minor allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_4b54372-zA" width="420">The world was [...]



The Ambience Affair - Burials

2011-10-29T18:08:24.159+01:00


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Burials starts subtly - a mist of earnest vocals, rattly drums and sweet chord swells descends before being pierced by an angular (for want of a better word) power chord riff, that bursts in right where it's not expected. This is a pretty good way to start talking about the album, I think - right from the start, it challenges expectation and description alike.

I don't mean to sound hyperbolic. I love this record, which is something I guess should be clear before I go any further. Usually when you hear about something defying description, it means the author is a bit lazy, or the band have gone slightly mental and made some decisions that defy explanation, rather than description. Here, I think it's more like we recognise the album's constituent parts - vocals, drums, angry guitars, - but the sum of the whole is rather unexpectedly new. It's as if someone who'd never seen a guitar managed to invent one out of sheer curiosity, and this is what they made. And it's pretty special.

I'd seen the band live before, and knew how hard they could devote themselves to their songs. And while I really enjoyed their first releases, this record displays a maturity and focus that most debuts lack. While the album is absolutely not repetitive (indeed, despite its reliance on drums, guitars and vocals, the first listen is rewardingly rich - there's a world of difference between 'The Fallen', chosen here, and 'Weeds', for example) each song is woven from the same material as the whole. Frankly, trying to describe the whole thing has me reaching for more flowery language than I'm used to.
Personally, this album sounds inescapably Irish to me, which is not something I would expect every listener to agree with. Lyrically, musically, emotionally, there is a complexity of simple things on display that reminds me of childhood, of wilderness, of the basic nature of the Irish countryside where I grew up. The music here is more than good enough to withstand such an unwieldy emotional connection, and that may be why I love it.

You can buy the record here, and stream it here - and if you can make it, you should come along to one of the gigs on their tour. They're wild live.



take all this time

2011-10-04T20:12:07.872+01:00


allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="100" src="http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/track=2125053722/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/transparent=true/" style="display: block; height: 100px; position: relative; width: 400px;" width="400"><p>&amp;lt;a href="http://therevivalhour.com/track/hold-back-3"&amp;gt;Hold Back by The Revival Hour&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;</p>
I've been waiting to hear the final version of this song for over a year, and I'm happy to say that what I heard before, though deeply impressive, seems less definitive now, like a bud beside a blooming rose. My first response was to wonder where in DM Stith's music had this expanse come from, and where he had learned to revel in it. On Heavy Ghost, a stretching blank night looms darkly, but here it has filled with glittering stars, that shine brighter the louder he sings. He's got the night inside him now.

The Revival Hour is David's project with JM Lapham and many others, and from the two songs available to buy here, it sounds like it's going to be beautiful. Of course, if it's pure Stith action you're looking for, you'd do well to check out his recently unveiled Daytrotter session.



Villagers - Cecelia & Her Selfhood

2011-09-19T16:26:57.365+01:00

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Today we are lucky, because before finishing touring and taking a break for a while, Conor O'Brien has seen fit to bestow another gently-crafted sliver of beauty upon the world, this time accompanied by an equally affecting video, by Adrien Merigeau.

You can download the song over at the Villagers site. It's beautiful.



all of our feelings

2011-09-15T22:24:13.115+01:00

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 Slow Club - Two Cousins

 I love this song for its rainbow synths, multicoloured, and descending violently, lurching out of the sky. I love it for its heartful bellow, simultaneously "Hold on!" and "Hell no!", and the notes that beg to be held a little longer, like the warm thing struggling into your arms as you sleep, someone you realise you've always hoped to to share your bed and dreams and silly sleepy moments with. It's like that really, vulnerable yet intense, happy yet fraught with desire and insecurity. This song somehow summons all these feelings at once.

{this is really really good}
{buy it}



Bring Arcade Fire to Work Day

2011-08-18T23:49:33.953+01:00

width="400" height="345" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/tLsADuZ6iss" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> In December of last year, Arcade Fire came to Dublin to play two nights at the O2. I was there for both of them, and I remain convinced that no other band can cause the same kind of joyous riot on stage that they do. On record, the band are exquisite. Live, they're even better; a raggedy, blistering mess, all deep breaths and impulsive dancing, intense stares and musical fireworks. If you were there the first night, you may well have met me. I was one of the volunteers for Partners in Health, a genuinely incredible charity doing work in Haiti and elsewhere, and it was my job to wander around and attempt to charm and impress people into donating money to a truly worthy cause. The band have long been deeply involved with the charity; one of their most laudable commitments is to donate €1 from each ticket sold for each concert - and just as impressive is the way that Brande, the charity's representative on tour, forms a shambolic band of volunteers for each show, who then do their bit before the band take the stage. When I received the email informing me that I was one of the lucky ones who'd get to take part, I was in a good mood. I was settling into a new job at Google, and I felt there was a chance the band might want to visit and perhaps do a little fundraising in the office. There's a constant stream of activism in Google - Movember was coming to a close, and another Age Engage event was in the works. So I sent off a mail suggesting the idea, and waited a while. Touring being what it is, we didn't have anything fully confirmed until the night of the first gig, when I met Brande and Marika to discuss it. I knew as soon as I met them that if the talk went ahead, it would be wonderful. Their enthusiasm for Partners in Health was infectious, to hear them talk about it was to think about the great things that can be achieved when people set themselves aside and work for the benefit of others. Shouting over the supporting band's set and the level of cold that seeped into the venue from Dublin's apocalyptic winter outside both meant that the next day my voice was almost gone, but somehow, with the help of some very kind colleagues, everything worked out, and I introduced a room full of Googlers to Brande, Marika and Regine, who kept the audience entranced for almost an hour. They spoke passionately about their engagement with PIH, about Paul Farmer and what he has achieved, about the terrific book that tells his story, Mountains Beyond Mountains. They told about mistakes and sadness, the horrors of the earthquake, the role of foreign governments in Haiti's misfortune, but never let these things stop them from remaining positive and unwavering in their belief that Haiti's future can be different. Arcade Fire - Haiti {live at First Avenue} Once you've met them, and heard how they speak about PIH and the work they do, it's impossible to remotely cynical about the band, despite the well-worn trope of the celebrity activist. They know what they're doing, and they know how necessary it is, and the world is a better place because of it. Links and Further Reading Donate to Partners in HealthVolunteer for an upcoming showLearn about KANPEPreview and buy Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond MountainsRead Will Butler's blog about the band's visit to HaitiRead Regine's Guardian article on the visit {A quick word about the video - due to the last-minute nature of the[...]



something about a new day

2011-08-14T16:50:50.344+01:00

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Sandro Perri - Love and Light

It's hot outside today. Like, shimmering pavements hot, and everyone's kinda quiet, and a little shocked and awed, if you know what I mean, because it turns out the moon is a girl. A pretty girl, all subtle sway and sexy cast glances, and she's strolling around like she owns the place, which maybe she does. I mean, if it turns out the moon is someone you'd very much like to go to bed with, who knows what else might be going on.
I guess this is the kinda thing I'll tell my kids someday. I'll tell them how the moon stayed in the same place in the sky, not yielding to daylight, not moving on. I'll describe how she descended almost imperceptibly, like a balloon at first, but then like a great piece of cloth in the sky, grey and dappled. I'll tell them how she descended like a leaf, billowing in her dress past skyscrapers, reflected up high bright and dazzling like in some sort of hall of mirrors, and then settling slowly, the cloth tightening into a dress, the shadows and sparkle falling away like wrapping paper to reveal the woman sitting on the bench there by the river, smiling at us all.

This song is from Sandro Perri's new record. Sandro remains one of my favourite music-makers of all time, and I'm expecting him to move up the ranks with Impossible Spaces - out in October.



the former soviet republic - i mean everything

2011-07-25T20:03:21.452+01:00

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I've been listening to this song really closely. I've been parsing away its steady layers of ringing guitar, its semi-National croon, the rhythm that pads along heavily. Sometimes it sounds like that time I stood in my parents' bedroom a few smoky days after it had gone up in flames, a crust of black layered on everything, bedclothes and duvets that would never again be clean collapsed in the shrinking corner. It sounds like being close to something terrible in your past, trying not to see too much of it, but willing to acknowledge that it has affected you.
Then again, sometimes it sounds all slow motion break-ups and beautiful women, New York taxi cabs and the softest rain. It should sound more like Dublin, but maybe Dublin's not big enough for this kind of heartache. Maybe you have to cross oceans just to be able to acknowledge it.

This is from the debut album by The Former Soviet Republic, and it's beautiful. It will be released on August 19th, and launched in Whelan's on August 20th - till then, you can stream it here.



Grand Pocket Orchestra - Ooo La Te Woo

2011-07-12T21:46:55.389+01:00

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This is buckets of fun. This is like cycling along the promenade by night, with the sun on a bit of rope, shining everything around you. This is when you are so downright happy and possessed by a glorious disposition that you don't even notice you're alone, or that other people aren't brimming with the joy of how beautiful everything is Right Now. When you sing with a silly voice just because you can. When you have no work to do and know exactly where your place is.
This sounds like a bit of a mess, I admit, guitar scars and looping whoops jostling for attention with their handful of chords, but I really wouldn't have it any other way.

This is from GPO's new album, which will be out all of a sudden sometime.

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I have moved my blog onto a less demanding update schedule, and should be able to return to writing something nice and silly at least once a week. Should that not be enough, please note that I will be sharing nice and silly things on Google+ and Twitter between posts. Thank you.