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    Saturday, December 31, 2011

    Albums of the year 2011

    1. Feist, Metals
    2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
    3. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
    4. Tune-Yards, Whokill
    5. Kate Bush, 50 words for snow
    6.Laura Marling, A Creature I Don’t Know
    7.The War on Drugs, Slave Ambient
    8.Adele, 21
    9. Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto
    10. Radiohead, the King of Limbs
    11. Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes
    12. Gillian Welch, the Harrow and the Harvest
    13. Wilco, the Whole Love
    14. Joan as Policewoman, the Deep Field
    15. Jape, Ocean of Frequency, September
    16. The Horrors, Skying
    17. Tom Waits, Bad as me
    18. Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials
    19. Lisa Hannigan, Passenger
    20. Anna Calvi, Anna Calvi
    21. The Strokes, Angles
    22. Elbow, Build a Rocket Boys
    23. Gemma Hayes, Let it Break
    24. James Blake, James Blake
    25. The Middle East, I Want That You Are Always Happy

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Milka: One Woman's Story

    Milka: One Woman's Story from Nuru International on Vimeo.

    Love what they've done with photos in this video from Nuru International.

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Albums of the Year 2010

    So loads of people have been asking me to put this list together, well two people to be precise, so here it is and me blathering on about some of the albums below it.

    1. The Archandroid, Janelle Monae,
    2. I Speak Because I Can, Laura Marling
    3. Total Life Forever, Foals
    4. High Violet, the National
    5. The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
    6. Go, Jonsi
    7. Halycon Digest, Deerhunter
    8. Heartland, Final Fantasy
    9. Lucky Shiner, Gold Panda
    10. Forgiveness Rock Record, Broken Social Scene
    11. Infinite Arms, Band of Horses
    12. Plastic Beach, Gorillaz
    13. Transference, Spoon
    14. Contra, Vampire Weekend
    15. Fields, Junip
    16. Have One On Me,Joanna Newsom
    17. Queen of Denmark, John Grant
    18. The Lady Killer,Cee Lo
    19. Heligoland, Massive Attack
    20. Band of Joy,Robert Plant
    21. Odd Blood, Yeasayer
    22. How They Are, Peter Broderick
    23. The Fool, Warpaint
    24. Big Echo, The Morning Benders
    25. The Courage of Others, Midlake
    26. The Family Jewels, Marina and the Diamonds
    27. Revolutions Per Minute, Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek)
    28. Congratulations, MGMT
    29. Swanlights, Anthony and the Johnsons
    30. Jasmine, Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden
    31. There is Love in You, Four Tet

    The Archandroid (Suite II and III), Janelle Monae

    A visionary, imaginative, bold, varied, daring, boundary pushing record absorbing hip hop, funk, rock, jazz, soul, classical and hollywood showtunes. It eclipses ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ as the most impressive genre straddling R’n’B based album by a female artist in the last twenty years. The Archandroid puts Monae on course to be up with the greats like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. That good.

    I Speak Because I Can, Laura Marling

    Laura Marling’s album blew me away - with strong echoes of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, it's a chillingly precocious truly great work. Sounds like: The best female folk singer songwriter in ages. Her first album was promising but who could have expected this?

    The Suburbs, Arcade Fire

    Maintains their usual level of brilliance. Still arguably the greatest rock band in the world.

    Total Life Forever, Foals

    An absolutely stunning album of epic rock - one of the albums i’ve played the most this year. Sounds like early U2, Talking Heads, Radiohead with African guitars.

    Lucky Shiner, Gold Panda

    A stonking electronica album, thrillingly imaginative and inventive, it keeps moving and shape shifting. Reminiscent of Ulrich Schnauss and the Field at their best.

    High Violet, the National

    Burrowing under the skin even more so then their last one, Boxer, a moody, gloomy, smokey late night album. Sounds like: the Tindersticks.

    Halycon Digest, Deerhunter

    These guys really get rock music, there's something indefinably effortlessy cool about their sound - Deerhunter make me feel like i’m a teenager again hearing My Bloody Valentine or the Stone Roses for the first time. This their most accessible, focused album to date.

    The Lady Killer, Cee Lo

    Fantastic, fun, party, soul record, had forgotten what a great voice Cee Lo has.

    Heartland, Owen Pallet

    Owen Pallet (formerly Final Fantasy) is a true original. This is his first album that comes close to matching the consistent magnificence of his live shows. Sounds a bit like: Beirut, Rufus Wainwright, Andrew Bird.

    Forgiveness Rock Record, Broken Social Scene

    A classic indie-rock album, like all their stuff, it’s sprawling and messy and ramshacke but in a very loveable way. Their best effort yet.

    Fields, Junip

    It’s Jose Gonazalez with a prog rock band behind him, what’s not to like?

    Go, Jonsi

    A poppier, uplifting variation on Sigur Ros - a consistently super album. Sounds a bit like: eh Sigur Ros? Duh!

    Vampire Weekend, Contra

    Much synthier than their first album, not quite as many killer tunes but still quality and in Run, Horchata, and Giving Up the Gun its got some of the best tracks of the year.

    Heligoland , Massive Attack

    This slightly patchy album had some of the strongest tracks of the year with Horace Andy guest vocal-ling on the blinding Girl I Love You and Hope Sandoval on the gorgeous Paradise Circus.

    Have One On Me,Joanna Newsom

    Her last album, Ys, was possibly the album of the decade for me, this isn’t as compelling but still brilliant.

    Transference, Spoon

    One of the coolest US bands around, with one of the best rock voices in Britt Daniel, very under appreciated here in Ireland, this is a stripped down, minimalist gem - a bit of a reaction to its more accessible predecessor

    Odd Blood, Yeasayer

    Wow, Yeasayer went seriously retro 80s for this, not as good as their more ambitious first album but strong, very populist, very catchy.

    Infinite Arms, Band of Horses

    Just great classic American rock, classic songwriting, beautiful melodies and singing. Sound like: Neil Young.

    The Family Jewels, Marina and the Diamonds

    She’s a cooler, British Lady GaGa

    How They Are, Peter Broderick

    A seriously talented bloke - moving music and a lovely mix of folk stylings and classical

    Rumer, Seasons of My Soul

    What a beautiful voice, like a fusion of Dusty Springfield and Carole King, most of the songs are pretty strong too.

    Queen of Denmark, John Grant

    Backed by Midlake, this soul baring album sounds like a slightly less miserable version of Midlake’s current album, the Courage of Others

    Band of Joy, Robert Plant

    Another great rootsy album to follow ‘Raising Sand’, his voice sounds as good as ever on this, who needs Alison Krauss?

    The Fool, Warpaint

    Lovely drumming and great bass lines on this, great atmosphere and meandering songs remind me of the Verve and PJ Harvey with a bit of Kristin Hirsch thrown in.

    There is Love in You, Four Tet

    Some fantastic electronica on this record, he's back making records i can connect with, lost me for a while.

    Big Echo, The Morning Benders

    Lovely record, has a very poppy start gets progressively less so - like a fusion of Vampire Weekend, Deerhunter and Grizzly Bear, it's produced by their Chris Taylor.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Peter Broderick

    I love this guy. His music is a mix of folk and classical, imaginative and moving work. He's also brilliant on the violin and piano. Very warm stage presence and good rapport with the crowd too.

    His new album, 'How They Are' is on itunes.

    This was my first time in the new music venue Workmens Club beside the Clarence in Dublin. Nice small room and friendly staff. Thumbs up.

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Ill fares the land

    The great Tony Judt's last book, a passionate defence of a politics based on equality, justice, and social democratic values, even this old cynic was temporarily geed up when reading it. A review from a sensible Tory here.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    Aviva Stadium

    Formerly Lansdowne Stadium, the new and improved home of the Irish international Rugby and Football teams.

    Aviva Stadium

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    The Middle East

    Bree Tranter by alanjwhelan, on Flickr

    Bree Tranter from the band, The Middle East. They played the Sugar Club, Leeson St, Dublin on Saturday, June 26.

    Here's the gorgeous video for their song 'Blood', one of my favourite tracks of the last few years.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Rufus at the Grand Canal Theatre

    Rufus Wainwright by alanjwhelan, on Flickr

    This photo was taken at Dublin's new Grand Canal Theatre a few hours ago. Rufus is in the early stages of his tour for new album All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

    For this tour he's having venues make an announcement pre-show requesting no applause during the first half while he plays the new record in its entirety. The audience are also asked to note that Rufus' walking on and off stage is considered part of the performance. Tonight, they very nearly managed to pull off the feat of quietness but then one over enthusiastic punter sitting near the edge of the venue couldn't contain their accumulated store of pent up clapping, letting rip as Rufus had almost completed his theatrically slow exit.

    The new album was recorded with the knowledge that Rufus's mother, the fine singer songwriter Kate Mc Garrigle, had little time left to live. It is sombre, dark, deliberately harsh, sometimes unmelodious. It occupies a place in Rufus's canon similar to Sinatra's desolate, inconsolable 'Only the Lonely.' The theatrical presentation of the new material and his decision to present it as one piece is spot on; most of these songs wouldn't work inter-spliced with his back catalogue. The first half worked well for me initially through songs like 'Martha' addressed to his arguably equally talented sister, but after a while the unrelenting gloom becomes wearying, particularly through the batch of Shakespeare sonnets adapted to music. Still, Rufus can't be faulted for staying true to his vision and where his heart is at the moment; he is still, clearly, naturally, in mourning.

    I enjoyed the second half of the show a lot more, where Rufus, still alone at the piano, played a selection of songs from his previous five albums. Even during this section, it was the sad (but this time beautiful and wistful) tracks like Dinner at Eight, Leaving for Paris, and Memphis Skyline that he played the best.

    This, the fifth time I've seen him live was a stark contrast to the joyful showmanship of his Oxygen performance in 2007. I've been lucky enough to see him play Vicar Street with his mom and Aunt Anna McGarrigle, and Martha, and also to see mesmerising shows at Vicar Street during the Want One and Two tours. I'll be back for more next time he's in Dublin. The man is truly a musical treasure to be cherished.

    Oh and the new venue Grand Canal Theatre? Very impressive.

    Great photo of Rufus and really interesting article here.

    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    The Swell Season @ Vicar St. Dec 15

    Super gig from Glen, Marketa et al. Really loving their second album, Strict Joy, think it's one of the best things they've done including the Frames albums.

    Lisa Hannigan @ Vicar Street, December 3

    A fine gig from Lisa Hannigan with excellent covers of Dylan, John Martyn and most incongrously Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus. And the new songs she played bode well for the second album.