Playlist of the Week #2

More music that I’m digging at the moment, mostly from records I’ve bought over the past while.

Don’t Break My Love//Nicolas Jaar//Clown & Sunset

Nicolas Jaar, to my mind, can do absolutely no wrong. Everything he touches turns to gold (kind of like Dan Snaith of Caribou fame, see below). This is taken from his new ‘Don’t Break My Love’ EP out now on 10″ from his own label, Clown & Sunset. A glitchy, sparse production that builds up to a cacophony of percussion and a simple vocal refrain towards the end, perfect for bedtime listening.

Surfer’s Hymn (Actress Primitive Patterns Extended Mix)//Panda Bear//Kompakt

English ‘microhouse’ * producer Actress (or Darren Cunningham to his mother) does an extend take on Panda Bear’s ‘Surfer’s Hymn’, from last year’s fantastic ‘Tomboy’ album. Four-to-the-floor kicks with signature glitchy patterns and 8-bit wonkiness. A bona-fide floor filler.

* what the fuck is ‘microhouse’?

Lost Land//John Talabot//Permanent Vacation

‘Lost Land’ is taken from Catalonian producer John Talabot’s new album fIN, released on Norwegian nu-disco master Prins Thomas’ imprint Permanent Vacation. The cut up string samples and abstract feel to the whole composition give it a sort of ‘disco’ feel, especially towards the latter half. I could have thrown up any of the tracks from this album to be honest, early contender for album of the year in my book. Be sure to check out his FACT mix too.

Two Different Ways//Factory Floor//DFA

English post-industrial merchants Factory Floor were recently added to this years Forbidden Fruit lineup along with the likes of The Field, Atlas Sound and Grimes, which prompted me to check out their releases so far. Reminds me a bit of Throbbing Gristle and the like. Video is spectacular too.

Acid Raindrops//People Under the Stairs//OM Records

Quite possibly one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time in my opinion, ‘Acid Raindrops’ is simply a song about smoking “the herbal essence”, buying Timberland boots and relaxing in Los Angeles in the early 21st century. The sample used is jazz-funk maestro David T. Walker’s cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady, Lay’. One of those songs that automatically puts me in a good mood when I hear it.

Darkside//Untitled (A2)//Clown & Sunset

That man Nicolas Jaar again, this time with his side-project Darkside (featuring himself and Dave Harrington). More guitar driven than his solo releases this EP still contains that downtempo feel and airy atmosphere that Jaar has become synonymous with over the past 18 months.

Sinkane//Runnin’ (Daphni Mix)//Self-released

Caribou, like Nicolas Jaar mentioned above, has the Midas touch with regards to his productions at the moment. OK, I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of that Junior Boys remix he did a while back but pretty much everything he’s had a hand in over the past year or so has been of top quality. As Daphni, another one of his aliases, Snaith focuses on editing and remixing tracks of a more ‘world music’ ilk, such as Cos-Ber-Zam’s ‘Ne Noya’, but also produces edits of soul tracks like Buddy Miles’ ‘Yes I Know’. ‘Runnin’ is a remix done for Yeasayer’s Ahmed Gallab’s side project Sinkane. High pitched synths, loopy guitars and percussion abound.

Acid Crash//Tyree//Rockin’ House

Acid craziness from almost 25 years ago. Mind-boggling that music like that was being made when I was a baby. I can’t say anything about this track that hasn’t been said before, I’m just listening to it a lot recently!

Pineapple Crush//Lone//Magic Wire Recordings

On the acid theme, here’s one of English producer Lone’s most recent releases. Comes on a transparent yellow 10″ vinyl, which makes it extremely cool. He takes a sample (as about 5,000 others have done before him) of Lyn Collins’ ‘Think’. “Yeah-wooo, yeah-wooo”. Lone recently tore up the Electric Underground 5th Birthday in Cork’s Pavilion venue, which I now work in. Huzzah!

Mmoths//Heart (feat. Keep Shelly in Athens)//SGE Music

Mmoths, as you probably know by this point, is the alias of Kildare-born wunderkind Jack Colleran. He’s only 18 years of age and has been releasing dreamy electronica under said alias through SoundCloud for around a year now. His debut EP was released digitally and on vinyl this week and this is by far my favourite track from it. Ethereal production coupled with sublime vocals from Keep Shelly in Athens, ‘Heart’ is a stunning piece of music to have been produced by one so young. I expect big things from Mmoths in 2012. I saw him in Cork a few months back and although then I thought his live show wasn’t the most, how can I put this, ‘engaging’ performance I’ve ever seen he recently packed out Dublin’s Twisted Pepper and is soon to embark on a tour around the UK and Europe. He’s even playing with Hype Williams in Paris next month. 6 years younger than I am, it’s depressing to think about…

Jeru the Damaja//Come Clean//Payday

Some people will probably think I’m crazy for saying this, but if I were to be asked who I think the best hip-hop producer of all time is I have only one answer: DJ Premier of Gang Starr, who is on the cut in this supreme example of early ’90s hip-hop. Dilla is obviously considered the Godfather of production by lots of hip-hop afficionados, but taste being a subjective thing, Primo takes the biscuit for me any day.

 

 

Sun-La-Shan//Catch (Dub Version)//Superradio Records

Italo in tha houuuuuuuuse. My favourite track off John Talabot’s FACT mix, ‘Catch’ is signature early ’80s synth driven Italo goodness. Reminds me of ‘Goodby Horses’ (and Buffalo Bill’s fucked up dance) from ‘Silence of the Lambs’. Read into that what you will.

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A Love Letter to An Réalt Dearg.

I wrote this two weeks ago for Eoghan O’Sullivan who runs The Point of Everything blog. It’s just a little homage to the pub that I used to run, that for reasons out of my control had to close down a while ago. I should’ve posted it sooner but have been really busy and scattered over the past few weeks.

I’ve been to some pretty amazing gigs, both home and abroad, over the past few years but nothing can compare to being in a tiny city centre pub, listening to great music with like-minded people who are there to enjoy themselves to the sound of a fantastic, local act or DJ. This is what An Réalt Dearg gave, not only to me, but I’d hope to many more people in the city of Cork and further afield. It is with a heavy heart that I now have to admit to myself and everyone else that the Réalt has now been consigned to the same chapter of Cork’s Music History as other great venues such as The Lobby, Sir Henry’s, The Arcadia, and most recently, The Quad on Tuckey St. It’s a very bitter pill to have to swallow.

I began working in the Réalt in June of 2009, about six months after it first opened. Around this time two years ago I was given the chance to take over as manager and quickly jumped at the opportunity, there was a plan in my head. In my first months of working there live music was sporadic. We had the Céilí All-Stars trad session on a Wednesday and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. What I saw from this was an opportunity and a platform to do something I’ve always wanted to do; run gigs. In the two or so years I ran the bar (which I’ve always considerd to be more of a venue) we started Jawbone: Acoustic Folk & Blues Commune with local troubadour Paddy Freeman and O Emperor’s Phil Christie and Alan Comerford on Tuesday’s and I will say quite frankly that it is the best acoustic session you will find in any venue in the country.

A big part of what I tried to implement in the Réalt was an established electronic music ‘scene’ (I hate that word), but concentrating as much as possible on local talent, and to some extent I think we were successful in this. Nights such as ‘Left from Centre’ with Boochy, Herringbone Dread’s ‘Groove Space’, ‘Modulation’ (later ‘Bangers & Mash’), ‘Squelch!’ with Gilbert Steele, Shane Linehan and Seán Galvin’s ‘House is a Home’, Kim Keating’s ‘Workshop’ days/nights and, with regards to international acts, Jack Buckley’s ‘Moons’ parties which saw DJ sets from representatives of four out of the Resident Advisor Top 10 electronic labels of 2010. Not to mention the daddy, ‘Sunday Times, curated by John Hennessy and Barry Walsh. The greatest nights of my life have been had at those parties. Our success in this field even led us to be invited to curate an electronic music performance stage at 2010′s Cork X SouthWest, of which 70% of the music was played by our resident DJs. Having Plugd run out of the pub for a couple of weeks was pretty awesome too. I urge you strongly to support that shop, it’s vital for this city, musically and socially.

I think the ‘scene’ if you will is suffering majorly in Cork, due to a genuine disinterest in new, original local talent. I don’t blame promoters around the city for one millisecond for booking more established acts to play in their venues, not at all. You get the crowd, the band get paid, you may even come away with a bit of profit for yourself. It’s the people in the ‘scene’ that are the problem. By this I mean people are reluctant to deviate from the norm. Sure, it’s great to catch a big inter/national act if they’re playing in town, but people need to support genuinely talented local acts too. Some say that the lack of interest in local talent derives from them lacking talent. This is not true. Next time you see a gig advertised for Saint Yorda, Agitate the Gravel, The Altered Hours, John Blek & The Rats? Go to it. You won’t be disappointed.

The thing I’ll miss the most apart from the music side of things is simply the people. I’ve made more friends in the last two and a half years than I had currently made previous to that in my entire life. The Réalt would simply not have been the Réalt without them. I have to give a special mention to Breda Twomey from the shop across the road who treated us like grandchildren, the woman is one of a kind and I also have to thank my fellow staff, who are the greatest people I’ve ever met. But everyone, regulars, one-off customers, DJs,bands, they all made it what we were, a small friendly little place, with nice comfortable couches, a roaring open fire and one of the best pints of Beamish in Cork (obviously it’d be impossible to beat Callanan’s). But that’s all we were, and now that’s all gone. I hope some people will remember the place, the music and the people with the same amount of fondness that I will. It was the best thing to ever happen to me, and I can’t see that ever changing.

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Playlist of the Week #1

I have an awful habit of clogging up people’s Twitter and Facebook feeds with my incessant posting of videos from YouTube of tunes I’m listening to at a certain time. So to avoid that I’ll throw some stuff up here instead. Here’s what I’m enjoying at the moment:

Nice Up the Dance//Michigan & Smiley//Soul Jazz

Picked this up in Tower Records in Dublin the other day on a compilation called ‘Studio One Story’. Contains some amazing ska, dancehall, dub and reggae recorded in Jamaica’s famous Studio One from the early ’60s to late ’70s.

Damu the Fudgemunk//Colorful Storms//Redefinition Records

Gorgeous instrumental hip-hop recommended to me by my friend/accomplice Peter Martin. Available as part of his ‘Spare Time’ album for free download on his MySpace site when first released, Google it and you can find it elsewhere now.

Daniel Rossen//Saint Nothing//Warp

Rossen (he of Grizzly Bear/Department of Eagles fame) releases a new EP, ‘Silent Hour/Golden Mile’, next month on Warp. ‘Saint Nothing’ is a melancholy, piano-led number that is,reminiscent Ed Droste’s ‘Foreground’, the last track on Grizzly Bear’s 2010 album’Veckatimest’.

Peaking Lights//All the Sun That Shines//Weird World

Is there anyone in Cork, I wonder, who didn’t buy the ‘936’ album in Plugd last year? Issued on quirky yellow 180g vinyl and featuring bonus remixes from the likes of Dam-Funk, ‘936’ is a spaced-out, psychedelic dubby delight from California-based duo Peaking Lights. I found it hard to pick only one song to link to, but ‘All The Sun That Shines’ will have to do!

Wendy Rene//After Laughter Comes Tears//Stax

Absolutely mind-blowing, heart-wrenchingly gorgeous and otherwise near-perfect song from 1964. Wendy Rene was supposed to have been on the same flight that Otis Redding died on, but backed out at the eleventh hour. If anyone knows where this can be found on 7″ please tell me and I’ll love you forever.

Jo Jo Bennett//Leaving Rome//Cactus

Featured on Alan Devitt’s mix for the Sunday Times website about a year ago, ‘Leaving Rome’ is a sublime piece of laid-back, instrumental reggae. Listen to the birds chirping at the start and you can only be put in a good mood.

SertOne//Look//Self-released

Taken from Liverpool-based Irish producer SertOne’s new J Dilla inspired EP ‘Quesadillas’, ‘Look’ is a sweet cut of the distinctive blend of modern instrumental hip-hop that SertOne is deservedly gaining recognition for at the moment. The album is available for download here and can be downloaded for free or on a ‘pay-what-you-want’ basis. All proceeds go to the J Dilla Foundation, helping those struggling with lupus, a condition which Jay Dee died of in 2006.

Mary Jane Girls//All Night Long//Motown

Favourite of the aforementioned Sunday Times parties, held on the last Sunday of each month in Cork’s An Réalt Dearg, and featured on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, ‘All Night Long’ is a tasty 1983 disco nugget with an undisputably awesome bassline. And a saxophone solo.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen//Steep HIlls of Vicodin Tears//Erased Tapes

I first heard of AWVFTS when my cousin Aoife played them on her 2XM show Sweet Oblivion just before Christmas, and I’ve been enthralled with them ever since. A collaboration between composer Dustin O’Halloran and Stars of the Lid founder Adam Wiltzie that was borne in the aftermath of Sparklehorse frontman’s Mark Linkous’ death, the result is an album that, although minimalist in it’s production, carries so much raw emotion and vigour that one can’t help but feel as if every note was carefully planned before recording so at it is played at just the right time. Warped guitars, sparse piano, gorgeous string arrangements. ‘Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears’ is my pick of the album. Catch them live if you have the opportunity, saw them in the Half Moon Theatre in Cork recently and it will be hard to beat as my gig of 2012 already.

Mosca//The Way We Were//Self-released

Another piece of instrumental hip-hop here from the UK’s Mosca. Sampling Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Can It Be All So Simple’ and Gladys Knight, first heard this on Colm K’s mix from his monthly night at The Pavilion, So What. Truly great track.

Max Essa//Islands (Dance Mix)//Feel Music

Iberian loveliness from Max Essa on John Daly’s Feel Music label. Picked it up in Plugd recently.

essa

Arthur Russell//Soon to Be Innocent Fun//Audika

Poor old Arthur, dead 20 years in April. Only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of exposure to the great man’s music (bought The World of Arthur Russell on Soul Jazz a while back, great introduction to his work) but need to hear more. This is a live performance of ‘Soon to Be Innocent Fun/Let’s See’ from 1985. Superbly recorded, magnificently performed. Listen and enjoy. Available on Audika Records ‘World of Echo’.

TR-One//Drum Dance//Apartment Records

Latest offering from Carlow house/techno overlords TR-One and newest release on Dublin-based Apartment Records, ‘Drum Dance’ is analog production of deep house at it’s absolute finest. Remixes by John Heckle and Juju & Jordash on the flip, but the original mix is by far the best for me. Sample can be found on the link here but it’s a vinyl only release, so get out and buy it!

trone

 

So yeah, there we have it, pretty much enough linkage of what I’m listening to mainly at the moment. This blogging lark is pretty fun, but it takes ages if, like me, you haven’t the foggiest of what to actually do. Hope you like some of the tracks here, I’ll post more next week…

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Depression: You Are Not Alone

You may know me personally, you may not. But I would like to tell you something whoever you are. I suffer from clinical depression and have done for a number of years. This is a condition which lay unacknowledged, essentially ignored, in myself since I was about 14 years old, maybe a bit older, and is a condition which I was only diagnosed with professionally over two weeks ago.

It seems strange, looking at the words, ‘I suffer from clinical depression’ when you know that it is you who have written them, but like all other diseases, depression should not be kept a secret.

I’m writing here because, essentially, I have so many thoughts going through my head about myself and my condition that I just need to see in front of me, verbalised, rather than having them float murkily through my brain. This post is, selfishly, for nobody’s benefit but my own.

If I could give you a bit of a background about me it would be this: I have always had an extremely low opinion of myself. Self-esteem and confidence are two things that just haven’t come naturally to me. I have always focused on negative aspects of myself, and I have often had absolutely no basis for these thoughts. These feelings have eaten away at me like a cancer for years, leading me to believe that I am unlovable to others. But more importantly, I’ve come to not love myself. And that is an absolutely horrible way to live, walking into a bathroom and seeing yourself in the mirror and being utterly disgusted with the face staring back at you. That may sound as if I’m being overly dramatic, but it’s the truth. You may meet me out and about and think that I am a ‘happy-go-lucky’ kind of person, but that is a facade I sometimes create for myself. I have good days, I have bad days. To be honest with you, I can go from good to bad and back again within the space of fifteen seconds. I’m not saying that I constantly wear a mask of satisfaction and contentment, I’m a human, I get in good moods as much as anyone else. But even when I’m in a good mood there has always been a negative undercurrent running through my thoughts, like a voice. Sometimes that voice can be as soft as a whisper, subtle but present, and sometimes that voice can be deafening, a primal scream drowning out everything else.

I am also susceptible to bouts of extreme loneliness and isolation. It’s that sense again of thinking that I am unlovable that contributes to these feelings. When feeling this way over the past few years I have not tried to engage with people, which would partly take away from those lonesome motions, but rather I withdrew into myself, avoiding people. There is simply nothing worse than feeling completely and utterly alone while in a room with other people, so I just remained by myself. Just me and my thoughts.

But through therapy that I have started (supplied gratis by my college) and through talking to my GP I have learned that his way of thinking has to stop. The cyclical motion of self-loathing that I have been wandering through these past years is completely detrimental to me, and it’s grinding me down to nothing, making me feel as if I’m becoming a black hole, and it’s only me that is being sucked into that abyss. My doctor has placed me on a course of antidepressants called Lexapro too. Initially I’ve been given a 6 month prescription for these tablets, but who knows how long I’ll have to keep taking them. I don’t quite know what to make of being on them if I’m honest, the therapeutic route to becoming better is far more attractive to me than the chemical one.

The main thing that I have learned about suffering from depression over the past few weeks is the paramount importance of talking. Depression is something that I tried to combat myself for so long, and I just became so worn down in the process that I literally had to tell someone how I was feeling or else I feared that I may simply self-destruct. As you may know, speaking about mental health issues is far from a comfortable topic for an Irish male to discuss, but please, if you are reading this and are feeling down about something, however trivial you might think it to be, try and talk to someone. Someone you know, someone you love, someone you trust. No matter how desperate you feel your situation may be, you do have people like that in your life, and they are more than willing to help you.

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