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Listening Party

Regular Ellen viewers can skip to the next paragraph – you’ll already know all about the latest sensation to break from the burgeoning Irish showband scene. Everybody else, allow me to introduce you to Crystal Swing, East Cork’s answer to the Carter Family and, as of  a few hours ago, the most successful singing group in Irish music history.

The mother-daughter-son group (Dad is the sound engineer) consists of mother Mary Murray-Burke, daughter Dervla and son Derek. The trio have been on a rapid incline since the release of their album The Best Years of Our Lives in 2009. A performance video of ‘He Drinks Tequila,’ an old American country tune from the ’70s, from a local TV broadcast was picked up by Irish drag queen Panti, and from there the local music media. Their story soon became the thing of internet legend, earning the group an appearance on Ireland’s equivalent of the Late Show, the, err, Late Late Show, as well as a number of other national talk shows. From there, they were discovered by the white people’s answer to Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and featured on her St. Paddy’s Day special.

Smitten, Ellen vowed to have the band appear live on the show, and on April 12 her wish became a reality. And aside from perhaps the most lengthy and shameless plug for a hard liquor company in US network TV history, Crystal Schwing’s appearance on Ellen was an unqualified…

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

The sun and the moon, and even Mars
The Milky Way and fucking shooting stars
UFOs, a river flows
Plant a little seed and nature grows
Niagara Falls and the pyramids
Everything you believed in as kids
Fucking rainbows after it rains
there’s enough miracles here to blow your brains
I fed a fish to a pelican at Frisco bay
It tried to eat my cell phone, he ran away
And music is magic, pure and clean
You can feel it and hear it but it can’t be seen

Magic everywhere in this bitch.

At a recent production (recent being circa 1995), permatanned paddywhacker Michael Flatley and his Riverdance crew performed an impromptu tap routine to the tune of Adebisi Shank’s 2008 smash ‘Snakehips.’

When asked to comment on the performance, Flatley was unresponsive, lending credence to rumours that his face may, in fact, be constructed entirely of wax.

Adebisi Shank – ‘Snakehips (Original, non-Riverdance mix)’

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So the sun finally came (and stayed) out today, meaning it is officially time for sick summer mix tapes. What’s that, it’s only April? This is England. Got sun? Got shorts? Got temperatures above 20 degrees celsius? Got summer. Besides, Buddy Peace deserves to be heard by everyone, at all times of the year – anyone who can make MF Doom seem right at home in Jose Gonzalez’ IKEA kitchen is clearly doing something right. So dig out that SPF factor 50, whack on them sunnies, and enjoy the scorchingly mild heat to the tune of one of the best mix tapes of the last decade in Wolf Diesel Mountain. The track below is a minimix of that album, with a few extra bits thrown in for good measure.

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Thera is a 5-piece band out of Alaska. Their core sound could most generically be described as alternative or emo, but there’s more to it than that. Thanks in large part to the vocals of Stephanie Plate, the band’s music takes on an epic feel despite the short duration of the songs. Her voice is very unique and capably conveys the raw emotion of her lyrics. Musically the band creates pieces that can move from uplifting highs to crushing lows within the span of a single song. I know it’s still early, but this may very well be one of my top 3 albums of 2010.

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– The Aftermath

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– The Downpour

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– Don’t Hesitate

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— [Thera Myspace] — [Physical Album] — [Digital Album] —

The Greatest Thing EVER: Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better” Music Video

A music video that makes you enjoy a song you’d otherwise hate is a rarity. It only occurs once in a great, great while (usually, once a month, but hey sometimes it can even be two months!), and it’s usually accompanied by either a pop-culture reference typhoon, or Lady Gaga. The new video for Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better” off of their newest One Life Stand breaks this convention by being an entirely serious, stylish affair replete with incredible production values and hypnotizing camera work and dance moves. Before you blow this off as hipster garbage, I implore you to take a look at the world Hot Chip create in “I Feel Better”.

By the time Angel Dust came out in 1992, Faith No More were already an established band. Their previous album, The Real Thing, had gone platinum but it wasn’t enough to make the band rehash the same sound again. Angel Dust almost seemed to be a reaction against the fame that the band were receiving. They took the metal and funk of the previous albums and combined them with some of the most off-the-wall elements — and it worked. Faith No More, and Angel Dust in particular, went on to influence a whole generation (or two) of new musicians and when you listen to this album you’ll understand why.

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The last time we checked in with German-born, English-based Irish songwriter (get yer head around that one) Yngve Wieland, he was a solo artist, having just released his debut album on his own Posttone Records in late 2008. Tell Men This was good enough to earn a glowing review and the #6 spot on my best of 2008 list, but that was small change compared to the groundwork Wieland was doing on the live circuit in the UK and Ireland.

There has been much change since the album’s release. Yngve made the transition from solo project to full-time band, taking up the moniker Yngve & the Innocent, in 2009, and Nothing Was Delivered is the first formal product of this union (although that year’s Have You No Love was recorded by the band, it was released under Yngve’s name).

‘You’ve Been Released’ continues in much the same vein as his previous recordings, making liberal use of modern Americana and classic influences, from Bright Eyes to Neil Young, with a hefty dose of blues guitar and barrel-house piano adding weight to the already up-tempo arrangement. Check the single out below, and stayed tuned to Yngve’s MySpace for new songs over the coming weeks.

Nothing Was Delivered is scheduled for release on April 23.

Yngve & the Innocent – ‘You’ve Been Released’

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This smiling gentleman from the American Apparel catalog is Mark Ronson. Since  Ronson happens to be a mild-mannered DJ, it would be safe to assume that any of his songs featuring Ghostface Killah & Nate Dogg would consist of a remix compiled from the safety of his living room. Alas, you would be wrong.   Mark Ronson is clearly a BAMF, and he uses an assortment of hats, headphones, and shaved head art to prove that he belongs on the same set with the Killah.

Upon an initial listen, it would be hard to distinguish this track from anything that the Hood Internet is churning out on a daily basis. Interestingly, however, this song is not a recent product of the booming alternative hip-hop scene. Rather, it was released to limited acclaim (and quickly forgotten) in 2003. Goes to show that some genres can arrive well before their time.

Two years ago, I accepted a promotional album called ‘Ascendant’ from a guy named Mark Northfield. At the time, I didn’t think too much of it. I receive promos all the time, and while this one was certainly more enjoyable than most, I am ashamed to admit I basically dismissed it. I shirked giving it a (deserved) full scale review, instead giving it a cheeky soundoff based off a misguided first impression and not thinking much of it.

But in doing this, I short changed the album’s depth. ‘Ascendant’ has been an album I’ve come back to quite regularly over the past two years,  and in doing so, I’ve discovered a deep, intricate album. Northfield’s sound is familiar, but not quite like anything I’ve encountered before. ‘Ascendant’ is jazzy, classy, intimate; like its set in a smokey bar where you’re the only one reeeeally listening. Northfield’s cast of friends brings a vaudevillian charm to each track, realizing a world that romanticizes theatricality, the 19th century brilliantly recaptured.

Northfield, I assume, frequents this site, as he has in the past cited on his Myspace my soundoff and the fact I placed his album (probably too low) on my top 100 albums of the decade. I hope he comes across this blog post and accepts this apology. I feel as though I’ve shortchanged him for far too long. I hope to get in a full review of ‘Ascendant’ this month. Maybe too little too late, but better late than never.

Oh,…

Firstly, if there’s anyone here who actually read the above title and thought “Hey, I wanna piece of that!” then you’re lying, no one ever says stuff like that anymore. But if you were intrigued by the most off-putting title this blog has yet conceived, then your curiosity will not go unrewarded. This is no early April Fools, this is the real deal. Released in 1982, pre-dating the first real acid-house record by five years (Phuture’s Acid Track), Synthesizing: Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat was created by a Bollywood soundtrack composer who intended to capitalize on the disco waves that were flooding the world at the time. Little did he know he was far, far ahead of his time. They could probably play this stuff at my local ‘Dubnium’ and get the pissheads declaring it the future of music… or throwing VK bottles at the DJ. Centuries-old classical (but synthesized) Indian Ragas set atop minimal, trance-inducing machine beats and pure, mesmeric electronic pulses. This is no throwaway record. Early 80’s India is where it’s at. Forget your cultural doubts and EMBRACE THE RAGA.

or maybe its just me

Raga Bhairav

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Raga Bhupali

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You’ve probably already heard this track. On the off chance that you haven’t, check it out below.

Delorean – Stay Close

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There’s this girl that calls herself vkgoeswild that is doing piano versions of various rock and metal songs and posting them on Youtube. Some of them don’t work as well as others, but this one is very good.

The Morning Benders – Excuses (with ukulele)

Coffee shops and small halls are filled with ‘cover bands’ specializing in reproducing classic rock hits and songs that your parents used to love. However, indie cover bands are exceedingly rare — especially attic-based ones that provide arguably higher quality recordings than the original song.

And for something slightly less serious, here’s Katy Perry – Hot N Cold

This version has convinced me that Katy Perry should sing with an Eastern European accent from now on.

And for the legion of post-rock fans:

Exhibit A:
Recipe for electronic goodness:

A) Take a pop track
B) Add really thick and distorted bass & synth
C) Add tribal drums
D) Distribute it for free

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Download » The Glitch Mob

Exhibit B
Recipe for sugary indie pop goodness:

A) Make it happy — chimes, choruses, Scandinavian pop and 1960’s vibes optional
B) End the song quickly before it gets old
C) Distribute the whole EP for free

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