Archive for the New Stuff Category

A shed of one’s own

Posted in New Stuff, Pointless Nostalgia with tags , on March 2, 2012 by Johnnie

In a damp, misty corner of the garden, in the shade of a dangerously overgrown, gnarled tree, sits an unimposing, unkempt little shack. For many years, it has been unloved and, frankly, unlovable. Filled to bursting with torn boxes, rusting tools and mouldy furniture, all concealed behind a warped door, it looks forlorn, abandoned and condemned.

At least, that was the case until last weekend. In the spirit of the changing season, with its symbolic chucking of all clutter, filth and negativity, I decided it was high time I restored this pitiful shell to something of its original purpose, if not former glory. 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

Mouse Trumpet – the biggest band you’ve never heard

Posted in Interviews, Music, New Stuff on January 19, 2012 by Johnnie

Even in the age of endless “internet phenomenons”, Mouse Trumpet might just be the strangest band in the world. Well, today, at least. With an aversion to having their songs heard, their faces photographed or their members even named, it’s hard to work out how they intend to achieve their stated aim of being “the biggest underground band ever”. Not that asking them yields any solid answers either.

They are, as far as I can tell, a trio from Scotland, whose music sits somewhere between Section 25 and Chic – or at least, that’s the legend. They described their own music as “Experimental Rhythm Swamp-Twee” but have no music available to listen to anywhere.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to prove or verify anything.

Their method of ‘promotion’ thus far has been like a game of word-of-mouth pass-the-parcel. Continue reading

Baby it’s cold outside – so here’s freezerRoom

Posted in Music, New Stuff on January 2, 2012 by Johnnie

In the final month of 2011, I was finally properly acquainted with the music of Cork collective freezerRoom, a band I’d heard plenty about but somehow managed to avoid.  With a name like that, I’d expected them to be purveyors of stark, chilly electro or experimental neo-Krautrock.  But no, they’re anything but; their sound is satisfyingly warm and rich, like hot chocolate on a bitterly cold day.  Their self-titled debut album is a lovely collection of beautifully composed songs, which, for all of the layered sounds and busy arrangements on display, comes over as a gorgeously laid-back whole.

The mix of influences is widespread: it merrily flits across electro-pop, jazz and several dance genres, like trip-hop, trance, chill, drum n’ bass – but it’s all done with restraint, none of these is allowed to overwhelm the atmosphere.   Continue reading

Pointing the way to a Happy New Year

Posted in Disasters, Grave News, New Stuff, Strange phenomena, Unwanted Comebacks on January 1, 2012 by Johnnie

Dearie me, it’s 2012.

The world is in the grip of death, famine, financial collapse, and, despite the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, there are still a significant number of lunatics running the global asylum.  The New Year arrives with violent storms battering the coasts of Britain and Ireland.  Even David Bowie is about to turn 65.  All we can really do is hope for the best.

This year, I’m hoping to continue where 1997 left off, creatively-speaking.  Let’s call it a ‘creative spring’.  I wrote an awful more in 2011 than I even managed in 1997 (when I took a – ahem – ‘career break’ to write a novel), so here’s to new horizons, finding silver linings in the blanket of dark clouds and, like the Wombles always said, making good use of the things I find.

Continue reading

Bona, darling

Posted in Music, New Stuff on October 1, 2010 by Johnnie

Moz reissue isn’t such a Drag

Some might say: “Oh, not another Morrissey reissue.”  And they would have a point.  This past decade has seen a ridiculous quantity of Moz re-releases, not all of them good quality, ensuring that one of the most loyal fanbases in popular music forks out time and again for material they all already own, in the full and safe knowledge that they will continue to do so ad infinitum.

Well, everyone has their limit.  I, for one, refused to buy his latest b-side compilation Swords on the basis that it simply wasn’t worth the money or the excitement; and I certainly didn’t buy the HMV/Parlophone Singles ’88 – ’95 CD on the basis that the two facsimile boxsets it was culled from were expensive enough purchases and more than artistically adequate.  I was also miffed beyond words by the Greatest Hits compilation in 2008 that not only, by its nature, repeated a whole load of previously reissued stuff, its two new tracks were then reissued themselves on the next Moz studio album.  And let’s not forget the dreadful hash that’s been made of The Smiths’ back catalogue, most recently the appalling Sound Of The Smiths compilations, which only reinforced Warner Bros’ peculiar contempt for one of their most esteemed back catalogues – not to mention the fans, whom they know full well will fork out for everything that comes out.

However, the 20th anniversary reissue of Bona Drag is something I’m rather excited about.  After the two fine reissues/alternative versions of Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted, it had quite a lot to live up to.  Well, it’s certainly delivered, to these ears.  Morrissey’s first couple of years as a solo artist were very much an exploratory period.  Still haunted by his apparent abandonment by Johnny Marr, his steps appeared nothing if not tentative; but following the release of the well-received Viva Hate in 1988, it suddenly became entirely unclear if there would even be a follow-up.  The news pages of the music press seemed full of tales of The Smiths reforming, Morrissey’s protracted falling out with new songwriting partner Stephen Street, his supposed disowning of most of Viva Hate and a second album seemed further away with every passing week. Continue reading

Ham roll with the changes?

Posted in Favourite Publications, Music, New Stuff, Star "Style" on September 30, 2010 by Johnnie

How did I miss this?  Have Ham Sandwich have done a ‘Sugababes’ and changed their entire line-up?  This photo beside the review of their new album White Fox in this morning’s Metro Herald is the first I’ve heard of it. 

Either that, or it’s the first published result of a wacky new Hot Press photoshoot, where Podge and Niamh impersonate famous Irish presenter duos.  Continue reading