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It was Unholy Thursday at the Pavilion last night, April 17, and the soundtrack was Black Sabbath, done by local band Elastic Sleep. Their new EP, Leave You is out next week and they’re having a listening party in Plugd at 6.30pm on Record Store Day, Saturday, April 19. (Our We Play Here weekender kicks off afterwards.) Did you see Elastic Sleep were featured in the latest issue of NME? All pictures below by Bríd O’Donovan (Tumblr/Facebook).

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San Fermin‘s self-titled debut album, which came out last September, is happily residing near the top of my favourite albums of 2013 list (in my head). I love its National-based, kitchen sink melodrama. Written by keyboard player Ellis Ludwig-Leone, vocals are provided by the depths-plunging Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye (who has seemingly replaced Rae Cassidy) over a cacophony of brass, with punctuations of guitar and drums filling in any gaps. It’s epic in scale. Live, San Fermin keep things widescreen. With Ludwig-Leone almost directing things from behind his small keyboard at the side of the Pavilion stage on Tuesday night, April 15, it’s impossible to take your eyes off the other seven members. The trumpet player and saxophonist battle with Tate and Kaye for attention. ‘Sonsick’ is their calling card, both live and on the album. The heartbreaking frankness of Kaye/Cassidy’s line, “Now I know it’s just another fuck cos I’m old enough”, gets me every time. Morrissey wishes he had come up with that heartbreaker. And then comes the grandiose whoosh of a tight group trying to prove they’re not just another band. Three new songs are played on Tuesday: ‘Give Into Love’, ‘Parasites’, and ‘Demon Lover’, which features the chorus “it’s gotta be perfect”. One can imagine that Ludwig-Leone has that mantra hanging over his bed at home. He promises that the tracks will all feature on San Fermin’s second album, next year. I can’t wait. The only misstep was an encore (I wish bands didn’t think they were de rigeur) consisting of a cover of Strokes song ‘Heart in a Cage’. San Fermin are better than that – and they’re going to prove it around Europe over the next month. Support came from the Great Balloon Race, whose own new songs also promise great things. If you missed GBR, they’re playing our Record Store Day/We Play Here weekender on Saturday. All pictures below by Bríd O’Donovan (Facebook/Tumblr)


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wcc album

After Jape’s reworking of We Cut Corners’ last single ‘Best Friend’ comes Daithí’s remix of ‘Blue’. It’s the second track on We Cut Corners‘ second album Think Nothing, which is out in Ireland next Friday, April 25. I’ve had a couple of listens to it at this stage; first thoughts – it’s as electrifying as Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards. It’s darker lyrically, which contrasts with the brighter music. I interviewed Conall from WCC during the week and he said that’s exactly what the pair of them wanted. It was brought to life by Tommy McLoaughlin (Villagers, Soak) in his Donegal studio and should sound great live. Daithí, meanwhile, who plays the Button Factory this Saturday, strips the guitar from ‘Blue’ building a wobbly bass line around some histrionic vocals screaming “I am not a loner, I am just alone”. You can listen to his remix of ‘Blue’ below via Soundcloud, while the original is underneath it, via Spotify.

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Having started life as a four-piece guitar band, Rory Caraher and James Hyland have cut Peaks back to just the pair of them and some electronics. Their sound has slowly evolved into percussion-loving techno, as evidenced by two new tracks, ‘IJWU’ and ‘Barrels’. Things are not as hard, fast or technical as the likes of Lakker (my goodness, that Containing A Thousand EP!) but Peaks still scale some heights. The drum hits slowly slide into a rhythm that masks an evolution in the background of ‘IJWU’ while ‘Barrels’, like a lawnmower with a questionable motor, takes its time to get going, but when it does, when the hi-hat hits arrive halfway through, you’ll find it difficult to resist. The EP, out on iH Audio, is at once subtle and overt. A promising start for Peaks. You can download ‘IJWU/Barrels’ for free from Bandcamp and listen to more Peaks’ music at their Soundcloud page.

The Shaker Hymn lo-res

The Shaker Hymn are readying their first 7″ single and are releasing it this Saturday, Record Store Day. It comprises their two singles to date, the still utterly exhilarating ‘Hunter and the Huntsman‘, and ‘The Runaway‘. The single comes ahead of their debut album, Rascal’s Antique, which should be out soon enough. The double-A side single will be available to pick up in Plugd, Cork Community PrintShop and Records & Relics (wow, just like that, Cork has three good record shops. That’s nice). You’ll also be able to buy it on Saturday night as the Shaker Hymn play our Record Store Day/We Play Here weekender in the Triskel, alongside fellow Cork group the Great Balloon Race and Popical Island’s Paddy Hanna. Doors at the TDC are at 7.30pm. The Shaker Hymn will be onstage at 8pm. You can listen to (and watch the videos for) ‘The Runaway’ and ‘Hunter and the Headsman’ below.

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Susan Dietrich Schneider – the Space Lady – was in Cork on Saturday night, April 12, to put on an utterly unique show at the TDC in the Triskel. If you haven’t heard of her, the Quietus has an excellent interview with her here. ‘Synthesize Me’ in particular sounded wonderful, surrounded by a plethora of psychadelic covers (it wouldn’t be a Space Lady show without the Starman, she quipped, before starting into the David Bowie song). It was a special gig. She was supported by School Tour, who performed some dark, escalating sounds for about 45 minutes all in front of a strobe light that proved disorientating – I’m still getting flashing images now. All pictures below by Bríd O’Donovan.

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The Cork-based record label MDR celebrates its first birthday this Saturday, Record Store Day, by presenting a show at the Pavilion featuring two excellent live bands, Meltybrains? (who feature in We Play Here issue 2) and Band of Clouds, who released their second album Appear to Float a couple of months ago. It’s a free show, and the first 50 people in the door will receive a CD put together by the venue (the people behind the scenes there have excellent taste, trust me) and MDR celebrating new Irish music. It will include an unreleased track by Meltybrains? as well as songs from Band of Clouds, Laurie Shaw (LAURIE SHAW!!!), The Shaker Hymn, Young Wonder, The Great Balloon Race, Jackson Dyer, Moustache Latte, Elastic Sleep, Peaks and more. The covers will be individually painted by Micheál Quinn of Meltybrains? A no-brainer really. Doors are at 9pm.

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There’s already been a lot of criticism aimed at Record Store Day, which returns this Saturday, April 19. On Saturday, the Irish Times reported how Tower Records was annoyed with HMV’s plans for the day. Its Grafton Street store is set to reopen on Saturday with a “record store celebration” with 40% off vinyl albums – even though Record Store Day is supposed to be a celebration of independently owned record stores.

Another Dublin outlet, The Record Spot, located in the RAGE on Fade Street, had a few thoughts about the furore, venting on its Facebook page:

“In light of the recent article in The Irish Times about Tower Records criticising HMV of their participation in Record Store Day and offering store-wide discounts and a 40% sale, I personally feel that neither of these stores should be participating. Both of them are or were chains/franchises and both of them aren’t your typical independent record shop. It’s Record Store Day, not Media Department Store Day.

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Kurt vile pavilion

Kurt Vile left the Violators in the US for a solo European sojourn this month, arriving at the Pavilion in Cork on Wednesday, April 9, with just an acoustic guitar (well, two of them) in tow. Playing for well over an hour, Vile didn’t draw too heavily on last year’s engrossing Wakin’ On A Sunny Daze album, preferring instead to look further back, mainly to Smoke Ring For My Halo – though no ‘Baby’s Arms’!?! WHAT!?! It was a grand performance though I did find my mind wandering more than once back to Manchester United’s loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League earlier that evening. Vile cuts an enigmatic figure, with his face barely visible through that sea of long, luscious (the word ‘vivacious’ was used by a friend) hair, and barely says a word to the crowd all night; a “y’ello” at the start, a “great to be here” in the middle,” a “I’ve got a few more for ya then I’m gonna get the fuck out of here!” at the start of the encore, and a “fuck it” when he messes up the first song of said encore. The G-Man has the setlist of the show here. Pall Jenkins of the Black Heart Procession was on support duty, towering over a plethora of pedals and showing off his party trick – using a string bow on a bendy saw. Note of caution: probably shouldn’t be attempted by people with too much drink in them. All pictures by Bríd O’Donovan.
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Sunken Foal with Donal Dineed. Picture: Nialler9

Donal Dineen’s Friday morning show on 2XM, Radio Activity, is one of the best on Irish radio, but is drawing to a close after two more shows. I thought it was actually ending a couple of weeks ago but it got a brief reprieve. Dineen was tweeting this morning while the show, which is repeated in a slightly condensed form on 2FM on Sunday from 10pm, was being recorded. The tweets are at the bottom of this post, and read:

“Tragically Radio Activity has only a few shows to go before it expires on 2XM & 2FM. Tune in & let’s go out with a bang. No whimpering here! There’s barely enough room in 3 hours for all this new music but we’ll be spinning WIFE, Gamertag, Ukkonen, Ellis Island Sound & Jamie XX. The reprieve was a stay of execution. Space for all things new and interesting is disappearing. The music is the last thing that matters. DJ-ing is storytelling as sound. We all abide by its magical power to say what words can’t. Radio is the perfect medium to spin those yarns. What’s happening is everything is turning out the same. Meanwhile, a golden generation of Irish musicians goes unheard. It’s a travesty. Thanks true believers for your support. I’ve had a good innings. The dimming of the light emitting radio beams makes it a dark day is all.”

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