Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Yesterday, it endorsed UK electropop outfit Temposhark, whose duet with Imogen Heap on 'Not That Big' I quite enjoyed back in 2007. Turns out the whole Temposhark album is pretty decent. Thanks Last FM!
Better yet was the recommendation of Dangerous Muse, a campy New York-based duo whose synthy anthem 'The Rejection' bypassed me completely back in 2006 but still sounds fairly awesome almost three years later:
Their debut album is due out in the next few months and news that the record is being produced by Bloodshy & Avant is very promising indeed.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Bangin' Choons of '08:
Annie - Songs Remind Me Of You
Bloc Party - Talons (Phones R.I.P. Remix)
Britney Spears - Womanizer (Teenagers Remix)
FrankMusik - When You're Around (Boys Noize Remix)
La Roux - Quicksand
Lady Gaga - Pokerface
Ladyhawke - Magic
Pin Me Down - Cryptic (left)
Sam Sparro - Sick
Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes
Blood Red Shoes - Box of Secrets (right)
Heathers - Here, Not There
Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
Lykke Li - Youth Novels
Santogold - Santogold
Most Disappointing Album:
The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
Best Live Performances:
Alphabeat @ Whelans
Camille O' Sullivan @ Queen's Hall
Chromeo @ Electric Picnic (left)
Foals @ The Academy
Lykke Li @ The Button Factory
Best Live Non-Performance:
Santogold @ Tripod
Best Non-Live Performance:
Zeigeist @ Twisted Pepper
No Country For Old Men
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (right)
Sex and the City
Best Theatrical Shows:
Circus @ Dublin International Theatre Festival (left)
Clockheart Boy @ Edinburgh Fringe
Eejit of Love @ Dublin Fringe
Scaramouche Jones @ Edinburgh Fringe
The New Electric Ballroom @ Edinburgh Fringe
Worst Theatrical Show:
Those Powerful Machines @ Dublin Fringe
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I think my recovery from Pepsi and Coke addiction is decidedly less impressive when you consider how much of this stuff I've consumed since going "cold turkey".
Regrettably, the the scantily-clad woman whose arse features above has not been involved at any stage of the process.
and Kanye West.
I've no idea how I never heard that this was in the pipelines. What a dream team.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Dublin-based sisters, Heathers, have been providing the soundtrack to my News Reporting cramathon and soothing my stressed head. I'd advise anyone who enjoys a bit of Tegan and Sara and "DIY"-type music to get hold of their album, "Here, Not There".
Check out these harmonies:
The girls are Ellie and Louise McNamara. Irony of ironies, the lecturer for whom I have an exam tomorrow shares their surname.
Wish me luck.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
"Men’s fashion frightens me. I really find men who are fashionably dressed terribly unsexy. I think fashion is something for women.” – Marc Jacobs
And yet, in response to men taking more of an interest in personal grooming and styling in recent times, fashion houses and retailers are beginning to regard male fashion as a more important component of the industry. The emergence of ‘metrosexuals’ may appear to have happened quite suddenly but, in fact, there were trendy men long before the advent of ‘Nivea for Men’ moisturisers and manbags. Here, we pay tribute to those responsible for some of the key moments in the evolution of men’s fashion.
Charlie Chaplin was a celebrated director, composer, musician and screenwriter but his legacy is most likely to be his memorable on-screen character, The Tramp. Considered an icon of the silent film era, The Tramp’s tight coat, oversized trousers and shoes, bowler hat, and bamboo cane are instantly recognisable. Louis Vuitton has cited Chaplin as the main inspiration behind his Spring/Summer ’09 men’s collection so be sure to get working on those toothbrush moustaches, boys.
Legendary actor James Dean epitomised the ‘live fast, die young’ motto, dying in a high-speed road collision, aged 24, after his just three credited film roles. Despite his brief time at the top of the Hollywood roster, Dean delivered one of the most enduring images of the 1950’s when attired in casual red bomber jacket, crisp white T-shirt, light-wash denim jeans and hardwearing boots for his role as Jim Stark in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’.
The Fab Four’s contribution to popular culture was by no means limited to music. Their experimentation with bright colours, floral patterns, Indian and influences in the latter stages of their career were certainly influential but, in the style stakes, they will probably be best remembered for their fitted collarless suits, ankle-length boots and mop-top hairstyles.
Enigmatic musician David Bowie has enjoyed a career spanning multiple decades. One of Bowie’s most memorable projects was an album he recorded as alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust. An androgynous rockstar from another planet possessed of unnaturally red hair, effeminate choice of dress and an ambiguous sexuality, the Stardust persona is regarded as a major exponent of the glam-rock style of the 1970’s.
Victoria Beckham frequently graces the pages of fashion magazines but her husband, David Beckham, is arguably the biggest style icon. Regarded as the patron saint of metrosexuality, the footballer admits to sculpting his eyebrows, occasionally wears nail-varnish and owns a jewellery collection that would put most female fashionistas to shame. The mohawk hairstyle he sported during the 2002 World Cup prompted millions of copycat cuts but his infamous wearing of a sarong back in 1998 will surely be his fashion legacy.
Indie hipsters The Klaxons spearheaded the so-called ‘new rave’ explosion of 2007. Centred around recycled 80’s fashion, new rave style often incorporates fluorescent colours, glowsticks, skinny jeans and jagged hairstyles. The Klaxons’ fashion philosophy seems to be “the more ridiculous, the better” and practically any fashion faux pas they make can be justified by claiming they were simply being ironic.
A blog-tailored version of a feature published in DCU's The Look Magazine, December in 2008 (minus the sub-editor's grammatical gaffes.)
Now, I realise that very few people share my enthusiasm for Patrick Wolf but, to me, the news of Mr. Wolf's new album getting a February release is Christmas come early. Better yet is word that the album will be a double-disc extravaganza.
Battle, Wolf's fourth album is being released on his independent label 'Bloody Chamber Muisc' and he is using a novel approach to financing the record by 'selling shares' on the Bandstocks.com website. You can hear a preview of the record here.
This video shows Patrick talking about the new album and explaining the whole Bandstocks concept:
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
But enough about my love-life. Here's a new track from Swedish oddities Lo-Fi-Fnk. Their 2006 album 'Boylife' is a favourite of mine but they've been fairly AWOL since then. I happened upon a new track by them on the latest Kitsuné Maison Compilation.
It's called 'Want U'. Not sure if it's part of an upcoming release or just a once-off. It's fairly awesome though.
Monday, December 08, 2008
In recent years, ‘X Factor’ has made the Christmas Number One a foregone conclusion and taken all of the fun out of the annual race to the top of the festive singles’ chart.
If you’re looking for a more interesting contest this year, the Irish best-sellers’ list could well provide it. In a battle between two of our country’s literary titans, Cecelia Ahern’s new novel looks set to battle it out for the title of favourite stocking-filler with ‘Mr S and the Secrets of Andorra's Box’, the latest instalment in Paul Howard’s Ross O’ Carroll Kelly series.
Howard’s residency in the best-sellers’ list is no doubt a great source of anguish to the various publishers who failed to see the potential in the author’s creation eight years ago when he pitched the idea of a book based on his RO’CK column in the Sunday Tribune.
“I wrote to every publisher in Ireland but nobody thought there was a market for the books,” Howard says. “The consensus was that women buy popular fiction and that women would never buy books about a rugby asshole, the kind of guy they were trying to avoid in pubs and clubs at night.”
Spurred on by mounting positive reaction to his weekly column, Howard decided to self-publish the first two books. With sales figures for the series now totalling 600,000 copies, his perseverence certainly paid off.
Howard’s writing career began after a summer job found him composing the 50-word blurbs on the back of postcards. From here, he moved on to a local newspaper before being recruited by the Sunday Tribune as a sports writer, where he started off reporting from schools’ rugby matches.
“I had quite a working-class background so it was quite a culture shock for me to turn up to somewhere like Belfield or Donnybrook to see these girls wearing two grand’s worth of jewellery throwing themselves at horrifically ugly rugby players.”“When I was 17 or 18, I had very little self-confidence and I think I was quite a normal adolescent in that regard,” Howard says, “ but these kids had absolutely gargantuan, unshakeable egos. What really interested me was how these guys are heroes within their peer-group and the way they don’t seem to answer to anybody.”
Howard decided to write a serious piece of journalism that would explore the schools’ rugby culture but The Tribune’s legal team took issue with the prospect of an article depicting underage sex and drinking. It was then that the idea for Ross O’ Carroll Kelly occurred to Howard. “I invented this character as a way of venting my spleen about these kids without naming names or libelling anybody,” he says.
Eleven years later, Howard is still writing his weekly RO’CK column (albeit for The Irish Times these days) and has penned a total of nine books based on the character. He credits the success of the brand to Irish society “needing someone to hold a mirror up to their ridiculousness” in the days of The Celtic Tiger and the surge of interest in rugby in recent years.
Howard says the response to the character is “very gratifying” but reckons he will write two more books in the series before moving on to other projects. “I wouldn’t do anything as gratuitous as kill him off,” he says. “Who knows, maybe I’ll come back to Ross in thirty years’ time when he’s old and like his dad.”
It has to be said that most of them rank quite highly on a scale of one to brilliant. Empire of the Sun, White Lies, Florence and the Machine and Dan Black were all pleasant discoveries and I shall be
Pick of the bunch though is probably La Roux.
Signed to Polydor (although her first single was released by uber-cool indie label Kitsuné), La Roux is 20-year-old Brixtonite Elly Jackson. Popjustice has this to say about her: "File this one under pop music that sounds like dance music/dance music that sounds like pop music, alongside Little Boots, Frankmusik and Lady Ga Ga, although La Roux's own influences include Michael Jackson, The Knife, Human League, Talk Talk and CSS."
Here's the video for her new song, Quicksand. If it wasn't so amazing, Prince would probably sue.
If there’s anything the tabloid media like more than documenting the deterioration of a fallen star, it’s championing the cause of a comeback kid.
In early 2008, the relentless hounding of popstar Britney Spears by paparazzi, at a time when her mental health was decidedly questionable, led Los Angeles governors to consider imposing a ‘Britney Law’ to extend protection of the privacy of public figures.
Just months later, many of those who spearheaded the media crucifixion of the American singer are lauding her for her speedy return to health and hailing her new album, ‘Circus’, as the best work of her career.
Even at the height of her personal woes, Spears’ musical output never faltered noticeably, suggesting that her chart success is probably more to the credit of those puppeteering the Britney brand than the performer herself.A pick’n’mix of some of pop’s best songwriters and producers are credited for their contributions to ‘Circus’. The tracks range from syrupy ballads like ‘Out from Under’ and ‘My Baby’ to big-beat dance-tracks like recent single ‘Womanizer’ and the provocatively titled ‘If You Seek Amy’ (say it fast).
The main problem with this scattershot approach to production and writing is that it results in an album lacking in any sense of cohesion or ‘wholeness’. Like many pop albums, ‘Circus’ is a victim of its pursuit of the perfect standalone song.
That said, the album is peppered with some moments of greatness. On ‘Mannequin’, Spears’ distorted vocal is threaded between synths and drum-loops to great effect while her breathy Imogen Heap-esque delivery over a minimalist backing on ‘Unusual You’ marks another highlight.
Spears’ attempts to vamp it up on ‘Lace and Leather’ and ‘Mmm Papi’ are less successful but perhaps it’s just difficult to see her as a sex symbol after all those unflattering up-skirt shots.
Despite its weaker moments, 'Circus’ is hit-heavy enough to suggest that, if the reigning Princess of Pop is to be deposed by younger upstarts like Rihanna or Lady Gaga, she’s at least got a firm grip on the crown for the time being.
There are few things more irritating than guests that overstay their welcome. Of course, there are things you can do to hint that you’ve grown weary of their company: look at you watch wistfully, repeatedly inquire about the precise details of how they’re getting home or, failing all else, produce all forty-two volumes of your family photo collection.
A recent encounter made it perfectly clear to me that, after five years in DCU, the time has come for me to say goodbye to this red-bricked haven for once and for all. I was trying to describe to a first-year student just how nerdy I had been in secondary school and figured that the character of Screech Powers from Saved by the Bell was a good point of reference.
“Saved by the whaa?” was her response. “Saved by The Bell,” I repeated (louder this time, reasoning that the poor girl must be hard of hearing.) She stared at me blankly. “Oh, come on,” I said. “Zach Morris? Kelly Kapowski? Mr. Belding? Only one of the most influential TV programmes of the early 1990’s?” She just shrugged her shoulders and said: “Sure, I wouldn’t remember that. I was only born in 1991.”It’s a sad, sad day when you realise that your cultural references are out of synch with the youth of today and that it’s time for you to move on to somewhere populated by people who remember “the good old days” like you do. Perhaps more unsettling than this, however, is the notion that there are students roaming around this fair campus that are essentially ignorant of the remarkable period of human civilisation that was the 1990’s.
I can’t help but feel a sense of responsibility to ensure that these individuals are educated about Pogs, The Nanny Named Fran, Ace of Base and other such wonders of the nineties. As such, I hereby propose a mandate for the year two-thousand-and-nine to be replaced by two-thousand-and-nineties.
In two-thousand-and-nineties, Brian Cowen and Mary McAleese are given their marching orders as Zig and Zag take over the respective positions of Taoiseach and President. The decision as to whether we should rename the country as ‘Zog’ will possibly have to be put to a referendum.
MP3-players will be shunned in favour of tape cassettes and people sit for hours with two fingers poised above the record and play buttons on their ghetto-blasters in the hope of obtaining a home-made recording of the latest Lighthouse Family, M People or DJ Sash! song from Longwave Radio Atlantic 252.
Considering it currently screens Dawson’s Creek, Party of Five, Charmed and Ally McBeal, Channel 6 will overtake all other channels in terms of ratings and set the benchmark to which all other broadcasters aspire. Quality home-grown 1990’s programming such as Upwardly Mobile, Glenroe, Live at 3 and Kenny Live will be given a platform alongside Birds of a Feather, Home Improvement and Mr. Bean.
Counting down the Top 30 Singles and Top 10 Albums on Top 30 Hits each week will become a national event and Dave Fanning will once again grace our tellies on 2TV. A positively geriatric Linda Martin will win the Eurovision for Ireland/Zog after delivering a rousing performance of her Riverdance-inspired ditty, penned by Johnny Logan.
Children will also be catered to with screenings of Echo Island, Bouli and The Works (with Mary “Are you laughing?” Kingston) as well as international offerings like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, California Dreams, Pugwall and the aforementioned Saved by the Bell.
In terms of fashion, Spice Girl shoes, tearaway tracksuit bottoms, Ben Sherman shirts and Levi 501’s will surge in popularity. Mobile phones will quadruple in size and models with the ‘Snake’ game will be most desirable.
Two-thousand-and-nineties will obvioulsy spell an end to recession as Ireland/Zog finds itself back in the early stages of The Celtic Tiger. Doomsayers and those who enjoy moaning about the economic downturn should not fret however, as issues such as foot-and-mouth disease, BSE and the Y2K bug will supply ample fodder for complainers and scaremongers.
If you’re still unconvinced as to the merits of two-thousand-and-nineties, just take a moment to consider how fun it will be at the end of the year when, as we’re gearing up for our return to the twenty-first century, we all get to party like it’s nineteen-ninety-nine.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Here's the BBC Sound of 2009 list in full and a nice collage of the artists:
The Big Pink
Empire of the Sun
Florence and the Machine
Mumford & Sons
The Temper Trap
Courtesy of: Persona Sauna
Even if he doesn't figure in the shortlist when it's announced over the next few weeks, at least Dan Black wins the prize for most boring name.
More info on Sound of 2009 here.
This time last year the BBC polled 'music industry experts' and devised a list of 10 acts they reckoned would make an impression on the world of music.
3. The Ting Tings
6. Vampire Weekend
7. Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong
8. Black Kids
The order is slightly skewed but, with the exception of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong (who scrapped their album a few days prior to its scheduled release), they pretty much nailed it.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
DCU FM - DCU's Media Production Society this week re-launched their radio station thanks to a trojan effort by Chris Clery. Tune in on Tuesday's between 4pm and 6pm to hear me and Leah Doyle presenting 'Pop Years'.
'Ladies' playing in Dublin - Ladyhawke and Lady Gaga are both set to rock the mic in Dublin next February. I will definitely be at Ladyhawke but, in order to see Gaga, one will have to endure the mortification of attending a Pussycat Dolls gig, as she is the support act at their O2 date.
Ice-skating - Even my job at Smithfield on Ice hasn't tainted my love of the rink.
Paul Howard - I had the pleasure of interviewing the Ross O' Carroll Kelly writer recently and, even though it's hard not to feel as though he's flogging a dead horse at this stage, the man is so charismatic and witty that you'd forgive him anything.
TAC - Really cool indie night organised by some NCAD folk. Credit must go to Lyndsay for the discovery. Next one is on December 23rd.
Miming - Performers miming to songs on television is not a crime but I think an effort should be made to make it look convincing. Take note Britney Spears and 'X Factor' producers. Miming whilst performing 'live' at a gig is unforgiveable. Hang yizzer heads in shame, Zeigeist (aka Shitegeist.)
Caffeine addictions - My new year's resolution is to ease off on the Pepsi and Coke intake.
X Factor - Single-handedly ruining the fun of the race to Christmas no. 1.
DCU Meltdown - The bar's no craic and closed all the time. 3 euro Tuesday's are but a hazy memory. Students are banned from The Hub at weekends. Nobody turns up for events like The Carnival Ball or Duke Special (possibly the best DCU gig I've ever attended.) How I pine for my proper DCU crew and the days of old.
Working 'round the clock - As you can tell by the lack of posts on here, it's a busy, busy time indeed for The Bubble Boy. I'm counting down the days until the Xmas holidays...