Archive for the Music Category

Talk about pop music, talk about pop music…

Posted in Music on February 14, 2014 by Johnnie

Music criticism is no place for the squeamish

Over the past decade, I’ve found that being a music critic of any repute requires a thicker skin than most musicians could dream of owning.  Putting an opinion out there, into the vast muddle of public irritation and apathy, requires a lot more gumption than people might think.  On the face of it, it’s a relatively simple thing to do but that doesn’t mean anyone can do it.

Criticism is not just about having an opinion. If that was the case, Twitter would be the go-to place for all culture. Obviously, I’ve heard, and been assaulted by, the cliché that opinions are like arseholes, but in my experience not everyone has a genuine opinion.  Arseholes are plentiful.

I began writing music criticism because I had a neurotic notion that by articulating, distilling and delivering my critique, I could somehow help to improve the medium. Even just writing that down, it looks like an arrogant notion but it was my springboard, my reason for bothering. I thought I could make a difference. I set about trying to destroy laziness, ridicule the stereotypes, denounce the derivative, promote the underdog, unearth the creative and shine a light on shaded genius. Continue reading

Marr, Morrissey and the notion that comebacks don’t work

Posted in Grave News, Heroes, Music, Unwanted Comebacks, Words on April 2, 2013 by Johnnie

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Last week, as I write, this blog and its beloved went to see Johnny Marr play at that lugubrious Dublin venue, The Academy. For anyone in their 40s who had seen The Smiths in their heyday (i.e. any point in their brief career), it was an extraordinary experience.  Johnny Marr has finally settled back into his skin, reclaiming his role as the guitar hero of a generation and the man behind some of the most delightfully crafted chord sequences ever created. He not only has a fine solo album, The Messenger, out, but he’s now merrily playing some of those old greats like it was the most natural thing in the world.

And really, it should be the most natural thing in the world. They’re 50% his songs.

The ‘surprise’ (and, really, we should have had more faith) is just how natural it is for him to play – and for us to hear.  His former sidekick Morrissey has been playing the same songs on and off for nigh on 20 years, as he was the voice and the melody we had all known and adored on those records. However, it was but a bar or so into Marr’s rendition of ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’ (the second song of his set) that it becomes obvious what we’ve been missing all these years – hearing those songs played properly. Continue reading

Mumford & Sons…

Posted in Disasters, Music, Unwanted Comebacks on September 24, 2012 by Johnnie

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…WHY? Continue reading

Saviours of Irish rock? The return of 79Cortinaz

Posted in Music, Pointless Nostalgia on May 8, 2012 by Johnnie

They’re back! Back?! BAACK!! Carlow’s foremost rock ‘n’ roll sons (i.e. band) 79Cortinaz have risen from the grave and seem intent on returning to the studio to entertain us with further adventures in rural indie guitar rock. They released their debut album Hopioki in early 2008, before apparently breaking up in December of that year.

We say “apparently”, as this split was disputed – loyal, patient and/or weary readers of this blog might remember the most bizarre comments thread in IHGN‘s history, when, running against the spirit of positive yearly album round-ups, I gathered together a selection of my Worst Albums of 2008. A member of the band, who firstly mistook me for a female critic (?) denied they had split up and took more than a little umbrage at the album review. As well he might. Hopefully that’s all water under the bridge now.

In the meantime, the band have very kindly gathered together their own back catalogue and put them on Soundcloud so that you may judge for yourselves. Continue reading

♫ Hartleys is my New Jam! ♫

Posted in Geeks, Music, Pointless Nostalgia, TV on April 26, 2012 by Johnnie

No one can say this blog isn’t down with the thrilling stuff those crazy internet kids are up to – only New Jam has been around since I was wee. Continue reading

I never never want to go home, because I haven’t Gok Wan…

Posted in Geeks, Heroes, Music, Pointless Nostalgia, Star "Style" with tags , , , on March 12, 2012 by Johnnie

Clever old spammers.  No sooner is Gok Wan in Dublin to peddle his range of retro frames at Specsavers than the cookies get to work trying to find appropriate blog posts to spam.  Congrats to the cookies, then, for finding several posts on IHGN which, for some obscure reason, seem to suggest that I’m a Smiths fan.

Are cookies able to work these things out?   Did they say, “Oh! You know that Morrissey Smith fellah, he wore retro NHS specs before they were retro, didn’t he?  Let’s SPAM his fans!”? Continue reading

Decent Smiths cover shocker

Posted in Geeks, Music with tags , , , on March 5, 2012 by Johnnie

As I’m sure you know, dear reader (singular), I’m a big fan of The Smiths but not a big fan of other people covering Smiths songs.  And when I say “other people”, I sometimes include Morrissey himself, whose present band simply aren’t up to playing songs as intricate as ‘This Charming Man’.

All of which makes it even stranger that a gamer geek going by the name of Lazyitis has produced a fantastic cover of that very song.  I’ve been chair-dancing to this since I first heard it (at the time of writing, about ten minutes ago), and my kids are enjoying it just as much. Continue reading

2002 – A Hella Good year for music?

Posted in Music, Pointless Nostalgia, Radio on March 5, 2012 by Johnnie

This week, BBC 6 music is a decade old, a fine landmark for a station which almost didn’t make it this far. Thanks to the efforts of listeners and well-wishers, it was saved from the chop, and thank heavens. The station’s birthday celebrations have kicked off in earnest this week and, as these things tend to do, made me look back at the year that was.

2002 was a year that promised so much. Without trying to be melodramatic, I think of it as the year that saved music.

The period from 1998-2001 was, in my humble but strong opinion, the absolute worst time for popular music since it began. I look back at the conveyor belt of rubbish that came along, and break out in cold shudders. Of course there was decent stuff in amongst it, but if you consider that it was an era where supposedly cool people turned to David Gray, Macy Gray and Travis, while Red Hot Chili Peppers became one of the biggest bands in the world, it all looked relentlessly dire. Groups like Muse, The Strokes and even The Hives were touted as greatness when, in fact, it all sounded like laughable mediocrity to these ears. Continue reading

Dear reader, meet Screenreader

Posted in Music, New Stuff on February 29, 2012 by Johnnie

At the end of January this year, young Cork trio Screenreader released their self-produced debut album Disconnect The Dots.  On first listen, there’s little doubt that it’s a “homemade” record but it doesn’t take long to grow on you.   It’s a charming triumph of aspiration and conviction over quite obvious fiscal restriction.  These are attic recordings with loftier ambitions.  On show are some blisteringly good riffs, inventive arrangements and lyricism that often walks that perilous line between inspired and complete codswallop. Continue reading

Working class heroes?

Posted in Food & Drink, Music, Pointless Nostalgia, TV on January 31, 2012 by Johnnie

A wafer, God’s sake.  For some obscure reason, the shockingly awful song “Blue Riband Blues” is stuck in my head today.  This song, sung by Mike Berry in the 1980s’ commercial, advertised Blue Riband biscuits – lightweight chocolate-covered wafers that were “the very thing”, as my late Granny used to say, to have with a wee cuppa tea.  I remember a few arguments between family members as to how to pronounce it: Rib-and or Rib-and.  I still don’t know where to put the stress – answers to the usual address.

Actually, I hated the advert back in the day but I was a big fan of the biscuits.  Continue reading

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