Friday, December 10, 2010

Concert Review: Alex Cuba in Miami, December 4, 2010

For those of you who don’t speak Irish – which includes, for the most part, myself – “Ceol Mo Chroí” means “Music of My Heart.” I can think of few artists closer to my heart than Alex Cuba.

Alex Cuba is a Cuban-born, Canada-based musician of extreme stellar proportions. Since hitting the music scene as a solo artist with the launch of his debut, Humo de Tabaco in 2004, he has won two Juno Awards for World Music Album of the Year and co-written an album with Nelly Furtado (on which he appears in the titular duet, “Mi Plan.”) On November 11, he accepted a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist and on December 1, he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album for the 53rd-Annual Grammy Awards in February 2011.

But accolades and achievements come secondary to Alex’s musical integrity, and his shows are testaments to that devotion.

Alex played his 4th Miami show in two years on Saturday, December 4, 2010, at the newly-reborn Eve nightclub, which was formerly The White Room. A charming intimate venue, Eve is essentially a high-end tarp partially sheltering an alley between two buildings, giving you an industrial feel with an unobstructed view of the night sky. Located in downtown Miami’s entertainment district, Eve is a conversational piece, but not a place for conversation.

Though the stage is small, the sound output by Alex and his band (David Marion on bass and Max Senitt on drums) was huge – so much so that any band video I tried to capture blew up the mic on my camera, and only two acoustic songs were salvageable.

Alex and his rocking band played their 14th and final show of their U.S. tour in Miami. The crew kicked off in Massachusetts on November 16 and covered 9 states in their tour bus, taking only 5 days “off” – driving through the east coastal States and venturing to Tennessee and Texas. But if Miami was the last of a long line, you’d never know it when the band took stage with the explosive “Vampiro.”

In shows past, when Alex played Miami, he employed U.S. musicians on bass and drums, but Saturday night, Alex had his “Canada” band in full force and effect, and the camaraderie between the three was tangible, bringing this particular show to a whole new level of amazing. The band played a lot of songs from the latest album, the self-titled Alex Cuba, his third solo studio release. The crowd was filled with fans who knew all the words, singing along with Alex – and without him – and turning the audience pit into a dance floor. Everyone sang along equally well to his only track in English – so far – “If You Give Me Love.”

The audience gyrated wildly to “Las Mujeres,” an upbeat tribute to the power of the feminine (a track which is only available as a digital download), while the band gave it their all, comically collapsing together on the stage at the end of the song.

Cuba, whose collaboration with Nelly Furtado made headlines in September of 2009, has not wasted a single moment in getting back on the “Caballo” and was back in Miami writing in December of last year. He shared one of the collaborations, a lovely song called “Locos Los Dos” – about two people in a relationship which neither one should be in, by inviting his co-writer, Latin legend Luis Enrique, onstage to sing it with him.

Other outstanding moments included the brilliantly-written “De Camino” from his first album and a fast-paced medley of “Que Pasa Lola / En El Cielo.” Alex’s fingers moved a mile a minute as they belted out song after fantastic song.

David Marion did a beautiful job laying down the bass and the backing vocals, sounding as clear and spot-on as if the record was playing over the speakers. However, this band ran no tracks and every sound heard in that room – aside from the cheers and whistles – was produced by the three-piece band with the huge sound.

Huge is the only way to describe Max Senitt’s drum intro to “Tierra Colora,” a song written about Alex’s home town of Artemisa, Cuba, where the ground is so red it stains your hands. This intro immediately followed his one-minute drum solo spent brutalizing his kit.

Alex gifted the insatiable crowd with a three-song encore with acoustic versions of "Agua del Pozo," during which he turned his guitar into a mandolin and "Humo de Tabaco" - the title songs of his first two discs.

He closed out his 90-minute set with a version of his duet with Jason Mraz – during which an audience member came up and sang the English parts. The band came back in for a strong finish. The audience roared for more, but there would only be one encore set – there were other bands waiting to take the stage.

Find out more about Alex Cuba on his Official Website,, MySpace, Official Facebook Page, or follow him on Twitter: @alexcuba.

Make sure to check him out in a venue near you. You'll thank me.


Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Humo de Tabaco, 2004
Agua del Pozo, 2007
iTunes Live from SoHo, 2009 (available as a digital download only)
Alex Cuba, 2009

As Collaborator:
Mi Plan by Nelly Furtado, 2010

Extra-album Singles:
“Arrepentido (Bad Timing)” (featuring Blue Rodeo)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mark Geary back in NYC

Mark Geary has returned to New York to perform some shows around the city. Drop by the East Village’s Scratcher Bar on August 29 for The Scratcher Sessions to see Mark in this fabulous intimate venue. Come early and see Jenna Nicholls play the 7:15 set.
Geary, who is no stranger to New York - his most recent album, Live, Love, Lost It / NYC was recorded live at the Parkside Lounge on the Lower East Side in 2009 – has hardly been resting on his laurels since his visit to New York City for the Craic Fest in March of 2010. Since then, he has worked on the score to a documentary called Sons of Perdition (released on BBC Storyville under the title Leaving the Cult: Sons of Perdition).
The documentary, which chronicles the lives of three teenage boys who were exiled from Warren Jeff’s fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints polygamist community, has been picked up to air on the soon-to-be debuted Oprah Winfrey Network, “OWN.” The new network will debut on Jan. 1, 2011 on what is now the Discovery Health Channel. Sons of Perdition is scheduled to air in the spring.
Sons of Perdition will be screening at the Salt Lake City Film Festival this Saturday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, UT.
To get the up-to-the-minute news on Mark’s performances and news, join Mark Geary – fan and “like” the Mark Geary musician page. Follow him @mg212.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Last Days of Death Country win Battle for Bob

Limerick 4-piece alternative rock band, Last Days of Death Country, who just released their debut EP, Mode and Effect, won the "Battle For Bob" contest and will open for Bob Dylan on July 4 at Thormond Park.

Limerick Independent reports:
The search began after Dylan himself requested ‘a young local rock band’ to open for him. “We don’t want a singer/songwriter. What we’re looking for is a traditional four/five piece rock band form Limerick. They’ll be opening up the whole bill and they’ll be part of the show, be backstage, they’ll be everywhere. That’s what they (Dylan’s people) asked for ‘get us a four/five piece rock band’,” says concert promoter Peter Aiken.

Contestants were asked to perform a Bob Dylan cover on Live 95FM’s Green and Live show on June 22. Last Days of Death Country were chosen as a finalist with their cover of "Most of the Time."

Bassist Gary Lysaght and Guitarist / Vocalist Patrick O'Brien
Photo by Limerick's Live 95FM

The top five chosen, which included local bands Animal Beats, Brendan Markham and Band, Nick Carswell and the Elective Orchestra, and Windings, played Dolan's Warehouse on Friday, June 25, to a panel of judges including well-known local DJ Mike Knightson, Live 95's Alan Jacques, the Limerick Leader’s Alan Owens, the Limerick Post’s Eric Fitzgerald and Hot Press’ Stuart Clark. source: Hotpress Magazine


Photos by Ken Coleman

All the bands played original material and Last Days of Death Country was eventually chosen by the panel. Fergal Lawlor, drummer of The Cranberries, who produced Last Days of Death Country's EP, was in attendance along with fellow Cranberry Noel Hogan. Lawlor was reportedly proud of the victory of his prodigious clients.

The band, consisting of Patrick O'Brien from Pallaskenry, Rob Kelly from Shanagolden, Gary Lysaght from Mungret and Dave O'Dowd from Limerick will be opening for Alabama 3, Seasick Steve, David Gray and Bob Dylan in Thomond Park on Sunday, July 4, 2010. Last Days of Death Country take the stage at 2:30 pm.

Find out more about Last Days of Death Country:
MySpace Page
Breaking Tunes
Facebook page
Facebook group
The Sixty One

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Limited edition of Bang Goes the Knighthood nearly sold out! (and Neil Hannon takes over the world)


If you were interested in obtaining a copy of the limited edition of The Divine Comedy's Bang Goes the Knighthood, which is scheduled to release May 31, you'd better act now.

The Limited CD includes the album plus a bonus disc featuring material from The Divine Comedy’s now legendary shows at Cite de la Musique in 2008.

Neil was asked to cover his favourite French songs - in French. You can hear the results on this CD!

The tracklisting is still to be confirmed, but will be around 10 songs.

There will also be an extra booklet with more photos and some thoughts from Neil.

I'm very excitedly waiting for my copy. :)

Tomorrow, the 28th, Neil will be a guest on The Laverne Show (10am-1pm Ireland 5am-8am EST) and tomorrow night, Neil will be on the program RTE's Arena, airing 7:30-8:30pm IST, 2:30-3:30p EST. You can listen live online to both shows.

This Saturday, the 29th, Neil Hannon will be in-session with Jonathan Ross (10am IST, 5am EST) and then in-store at Road Records at 1pm for a pre-release gig.

Neil's been making numerous appearances on radio shows, and you can listen to some of the archives from the past week:

  • Across the Line with Rigsby - 4 days left to listen. ("Across the Line," incidentally, is a spectacular show and you should listen to it even when Neil isn't on. If there were programs like this available in my car, I would still be a radio listener.)

    (There are also reportedly some lovely videos of Neil here as pointed out by "Across the Line," - including one of Neil as a "wee chap" - but I have been foiled by geography and knighted: "Sir Not Available in Your Area")

  • Talking about how he wrote his first single "At the Indie Disco"> on The Guardian (Video) [And really, how can you not love a song that references both Morrissey and "Tainted Love"?]

  • The Word podcast, Episode 133.

  • May 24 episode of Stuart Baille

Follow @divinecomedyhq on Twitter for the most up-to-date happenings!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Interview with Last Days of Death Country on Flip It TV

On the night of their EP Launch in Dolans on March 26, 2010, Last Days of Death Country spoke with Olivia Chau of Flip It TV.

Here's that interview:

You'll be hearing loads more about this band in this space. Past mentions on Paddy-Whacked Radio™ here.

MySpace Page
Breaking Tunes
Facebook page
Facebook group
The Sixty One

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Transcript of Episode 2: Duke Special

Click here to listen and download this podcast on iTunes!

Natalie Herman: This is Natalie Herman and I am at The Mercury Lounge with Duke Special. Hi!

Duke Special: Hello. In the basement, to be precise.

NH: Yes! And he's just gotten through doing sound check and he had a little exciting stuff going on there.

DS: Yeah, just with borrowed gear which doesn't work so I was flapping about trying to get a new sustain pedal, but rather find out now than during the gig. But it's all good now.

NH: And you flew out . . . this afternoon you landed?

DS: No, I landed on Wednesday, so it's just been nice to have two or three days around New York. Went to the Strand book shop and spent too much money and, yeah, just wandered about and, yeah, it's been nice to just kind of chill a wee bit before the gigs. I've got a gig tonight and the next two nights as well, so.

NH: Great, well, spending too much money in a book shop is very much after my own heart.

DS: It's money well spent, I think.

NH: Yeah, I think so, too. You have kind of an unusual thing going on. You've got three brand-new CDs being released simultaneously.

DS: Yeah.

NH: Tell me about that.

DS: Well, I have them here. Together they are called The Stage, A Book, and The Silver Screen, and one of them is based on -- I was in a play for four months. I was asked to write music for a play. It was a Bertolt Brecht play called Mother Courage and Her Children, and it was playing in L.A. two Januaries ago at a film awards thing, and I was playing at the aftershow. There was an actress there called Fiona Shaw, and she saw me play at that and she'd been wondering about doing a production - a new production - of Mother Courage with her long-term collaborator, Deborah Warner, a director. And she put me forward as a - to Deborah as a possibility for writing a new score for it. But they also created a part - a role within the play for me to sing. So I recorded - one of them is the studio recording of the music for that play. The other is an interesting one. It's - Kurt Weill died in 1950 when he was just beginning to work on a new collaboration with lyricist Maxwell Anderson and Lost in the Stars was still running on Broadway when he died, but they had started working on this new musical called Raft and the River, which was a musical about Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain's character. And so I found a song - a friend sang a song to me which was called "The Catfish Song" and I wondered where it had come from, and I found that it was part of this collection of only five songs that were completed. And I also discovered that they'd never been recorded before and so I just thought it was a great opportunity and I recorded the five songs from Raft and the River, and so, that's the second CD.

NH: Uh-huh.

DS: The third is called The Silent World of Hector Mann and it's - I'd read a novel by Paul Auster, the novelist, called Book of Illusions, and in it there is a character called Hector Mann who was a lesser-known silent movie star who mysteriously disappeared at the kinda zenith of his prowess, just as talkie movies were coming in. And he only left behind twelve two-reel comedies. And I thought it'd be really interesting to have a song based on each of his film titles. I wrote one called "Mr. Nobody," and then I sent the book to eleven other writers that I liked and gave them one film title and asked them to write a song for me to sing in a pre-rock-and-roll style. So that's what we have here is twelve songs recorded over three days with Steve Albini in Chicago about Hector Mann. So that's - that's the three. So they - they kind of - although they were recorded in different times and different lengths - duration to record, it just seemed appropriate to bring them out together, since they're all of a literary nature, so. That's where that came from.

NH: You're quite the Renaissance man, there!

DS: Well, I don't know. . . I didn't deliberately set out to do this, but suddenly I realized I had this body of work which is of a certain thing, so. I don't - I mean I don't know what I'm going to do next but, yeah, it's kinda flung me in a really interesting path.

NH: That's great. Tell me about your involvement with Pledge Music.

DS: Well, I was - I originally started touring about eight or nine years ago as Duke Special and was doing a lot of shows around Ireland and the U.K. without a label and it was working really well. And then I got signed by V2 records and I brought out an album with them called Songs From the Deep Forest and then they were bought over by Universal Records, and I - brought out another record with them called I Never Thought This Day Would Come and then while I was doing the play in October, I was dropped from Universal, and. . .but I had these three recordings, so. I'd already made the recordings, but normally a label gives you a marketing budget as well. And with anything you create, if you want people to buy it, they have to know about it, so.

NH: Sure.

DS: I was trying to think of a way I could raise money for it. My manager alerted me to this new kind of model of. . . It was originally set up for bands who wanted to make a new record and they had an existing fan base. And for the band, it was a way of making - raising finances. For the fans, it was a chance to get something exclusive. And what we did - we set up, through pledge[music].com, people could go on and for a limited time of thirty days, they could either purely buy the music - buy the - like a signed copy of the CD up front, and you know, pay for it up front, or else there's a whole range of, like, exclusive experiences or other things. Everything from limited vinyl to, there was twenty. . .

NH: Actually, I have the list here. . .

DS: Yeah, yeah. Well, things like "write a poem on a subject of your choice," like a totally exclusive thing, right up to I'll come and do a gig in your house, which is the most expensive, and we raised over $40,000 through doing this.

NH: Wow.

DS: Over 40 days, I think, or something. And basically for me, it's a way of being able to release the records at a high level.

NH: And I saw on there that you actually exceeded your goal?

DS: Yeah, in fact the original goal was $30[,000], and we raised about $40[,000].

NH: Let's see - here's some of your exclusives. . .

DS: Yeah, everything from a hand-written poem to a special, exclusive concert, to I'll work - working with ten different people on - working on songs for an afternoon. So, a whole range of things, yeah.

NH: And how - how did you come up with the - the things that were going to be offered?

DS: Pledge has existed for about a year, so I did troll other people - what other people had thought of and then put in some of my own. Yeah, so it seemed to work really well and there's a price bracket for everyone.

NH: Sure.

DS: But, the kind of result is that I am able to market the record to a high level.

NH: That's. . . that's - I think it's a fantastic idea and it's great that you were able to do that .

DS: Yeah.

NH: It's amazing, and it would be terrible to have you to either lose the recordings to the time period -

DS: Yeah.

NH: - Or to have to put them out to a soft release and just have nobody know about them.

DS: Yeah, yeah.

NH: So it's fantastic that you were able to find the way around it. I love how the music industry's actually going in that direction.

DS: Well, interestingly, the head of A&R of V2 is now one of the top guys in Pledge.

NH: Really?

DS: Yeah, so I think it says a lot about the industry are scrambling trying to find out how they can sustain their own jobs. But it felt like a very pure way of raising money though working with your fans - existing fans to tell other people about the record, you know. So I've - through touring a lot over the last seven or eight years, I've kind of managed to garner quite a loyal fanbase and. . .yeah! Seems to work.

NH: Well, anybody who's not seen Duke Special - kinda maybe in for a surprise when they see this guy on the stage. You've got a very unusual - I guess - an image?

DS: Yeah, I've just - I've kinda always liked doing my own thing, really, and not ticking the boxes, you know? And I like to throw people off the scent a little bit of what I do and then just for them to hear the music. But it's essentially melodic music but I'm influenced by all kinds of stuff from Elliot Smith to Kurt Weill to Magnetic Fields, so, yeah, I draw on all those influences really.

NH: I have a friend who's a huge Cure fan from, like, way back when they started. Before they were even known, she was a Cure fan and I knew that she was going to be interested in - in your music and especially your image and I - I . . .I sent her down your path and - and she was pointing out all of these nods that you had to - to The Cure. Are they an influence to you?

DS: Yeah, I mean it was probably - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was probably the album that I remember listening to a lot. But, yeah, kinda like - I like his. . .I like his songs, his persona. I went to see The Specials recently, which is partly where my name came from and I think that's another great band. Gosh, there's so many influences, I suppose, and recently with the kind of more literary stuff, I'm discovering a whole new range of composers and influences. But I think - I think as an artist, you need to keep growing. You need to keep absorbing other influences and making new discoveries and I think only then can you keep developing as an artist. Otherwise, you're just - you're repeating yourself over and over again, and it's definitely not what I want to do.

NH: I've certainly - I've been going through your back catalog and - there's such a range and it's just really kind of grown on me to the extent where it's constantly playing in my head, so, you're doing a good job! You're doing a good job! How does your style - how do you think it helps your career and how do you think it might hurt your career? As far as bringing in new fans just from your face? You know? From the face value?

DS: Yeah, well, I'm not a big fan of having my face on the front of CDs or anything like that, so I always - I work with two guys who are great artists and illustrators and we try and develop a concept for each album which is - with imagery that's consistent with what the music is. So I find that helpful. I think probably I'm not easily . . .categorized - yes - which is helpful because you stand out then. It's distinctive, but I think it's not so easily pigeonholed, which a lot of record companies like - being able to pigeonhole who I am. "This person sounds like this and this" and it just makes for lazy journalism when people do that. People say, "Oh, he's the Irish Tom Waits, the Irish Rufus Wainwright" or something like that. I think it's just, well, those are just two people that - are - are, you know, not doing piano ballads but play piano or something, you know?

NH: Yeah.

DS: Yeah, I kind of like to keep them on their toes. Those mystery people.

NH: That's really cool. Have you ever been mistaken for anybody else?

DS: There's an Australian comedian called Tim Minchin who. . .there is a very weird similarity in our look, but - to the point where people kept saying, "Oh, I saw you on this TV program," and I'm, "No no no, that was Tim Minchin." But I actually invited him to come and guest with me in Belfast at a show, which he did, and he's a songwriter / comedian, whereas I'm not that funny, so. Yeah, but it was good for people to see us both in the same room. I think it dispelled any rumours that we were moonlighting as each other.

NH: I - I had passed on your music to somebody that I know that advised me that you remind him of a wrestler. So you - you've got a pro wrestler doppelganger.

DS: I've never had that comparison before. I would get my ass kicked, I think.

NH: I spoke with Roddie Cleere, and -

DS: Oh, yeah, yeah, from -

NH: - Waterford -

DS: - Waterford, yeah.

NH: And he had told an interesting story about your song, "Last Night I Nearly Died (But Woke Up Just in Time)." I'd like to hear it from you.

DS: Well, a lot of songs have starting points. The starting point for that song was falling asleep at the wheel of a car and - but it goes. . .takes on a - I find that with songs you have an initial, kind of, catalyst, and then the song takes on its own character. Which is the case for that, as well. So that's how - that's the origins of it, yeah.

NH: Yeah, that's. . .that's certainly an interesting - an interesting experience!

DS: Yeah, well, I woke up and the car was scraping along the central reservation of the motorway, and. . .ugh. Yeah. I guess, not good!

NH: How much of "Duke Special" do you take home with you? When you're off tour and you go home, how much of that is you?

DS: I think that when I - I've toured a lot, it's difficult to return to normal life and - cos when you're on tour, your whole day is leading up to a gig that evening. But it's something I'm trying to be careful about now, as to how to keep the two separate, you know? Yeah, I remember Annie Lennox saying once that when she's onstage, it's still her, but it's like a heightened version of her, it's an extension of her. I like to think of it in that way, that it's - that it isn't . . . you know, that there's something that I can retain for myself and for friends and family, but I like. . . But more and more I like the idea of . . .Like I used to probably think that you had to be a bit of a mess to write good songs. You know, your personal life had to be - had to suck and, you know - to get at those interesting, dark places, but I think now, I am more of the opinion that - that you can make the craziest art and have a stable life, you know? I think Tom Waits is a great example of that. In fact, his art started getting more crazy when he began to be more stable himself, so.

NH: Really?

DS: Yeah, so I - I kinda take that as inspiration.

NH: Okay, that's great. How much formal piano training have you received, or has it all been off-the-cuff?

DS: Well, I went to piano - was sent to piano lessons when I was seven, and I learned - you know, did all those scales and classical pieces and it wasn't really me cos I wasn't disciplined enough and I didn't have the technique. But I - someone taught me how to listen for chords and how to construct chords and listen by ear to records and I - that was something. A whole world was opened to me. But now I can actually appreciate classical music and written music much more. I'm still not very good at it, but I can certainly appreciate it a lot more when I don't have to, you know?

NH: Yeah. Okay, last year, Foy Vance played the Craic Fest Saturday night. You worked with Foy -

DS: I don't like him, actually. He's a horrible guy, his music is terrible, so. Yeah.

NH: . . .okay. . .

DS: No, he's a. . .no - great songwriter, one of the most distinctive, amazing, soulful voices that you'd ever hear. And a good friend. Yeah. Bet you only print the other previous. . .

NH: Thank you so much for your time!

DS: No problem.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

New music review: Garrett Wall Band - Hands and Imperfections


From the way that "Copernicus Dreams" tumbles out of the CD the instant you press the "play" button, you can tell that Garrett Wall Band has been waiting for you. Their previous CD, Sky Pointing having been released in 2007, Garrett Wall Band likely has had tunes pressed up against the glass waiting to run free.

Hands and Imperfections is the latest offering by The Garrett Wall Band, a four-piece outfit fronted by Irish-born Wall, who has been based in Madrid for more than 10 years. Wall shows the influence that his adoptive country has had on him, paying much respect on this disc, which is flavoured with a traditional-Spanish blend of sounds. Brass (Howard Brown) features prominently on many of the tracks and a drum kit is eschewed for a cajón, the flamenco drum box, played by Robbie K. Jones. On many of the songs, the usual means of percussion are completely abandoned for "foot stomps," "clucks & cracks," "claps," and "kicks & slaps", giving rise to thoughts of flamenco dances.

"Worst-Case Scenario," underlined by Dave Mooney's heavy-handed double bass, brings the sound further south to give a Tex-Mex feel, falling short of the "country" genre but settling nicely into the Americana groove. Wall's vocals are even reminiscent of Hal Ketchum on "Not Anymore".

While the music moves through genres, the lyrics mostly vary on a single theme: love lost and the life that inevitably follows it. But the album title foreshadows the final overview of the collection - imperfections. Though the songs recognize that there have been "Better Days" ("most times it's just one thing that make a good one bad"), they fall on the optimistic side of the fence. Recognizing that life is filled with imperfections makes it easier, as you will hear in each song, to let go of the bad and try to seek the "shelter," the "shade in the sun."

The strongest example of this is how the band moves from lamentation to exaltation with the single chorus, "we're not at the center of the universe," in "Copernicus Dreams," which is easily the most pleasing song on the disc. The group vocals employed on this opening song is a device that carries well throughout the entire album.

The collaboration between Wall and Lua, the female lead singer of Spanish band We Are Balboa, landed the band four weeks on the RTÉ 1 playlist with the first single, "Is There No Freedom?"

Garrett Wall Band ends the album with an homage to Wall's country of origin, "Never Give All the Heart," which is a poem by W.B. Yeats set to music. It's done with a deliciously Spanish interpretation, employing American musician Tom Corbett on the mandolin. The resulting song is a perfect blend of nationalities and an apt note on which to end.

Hands and Imperfections was released in Ireland on February 19, 2010. It is available from,, iTunes, and Amazon. Garrett Wall Band will return to Ireland for some dates in July and can be found gigging in Madrid and throughout Spain. Check them out at their official website or MySpace for exact dates and locations.

Find them on Facebook and Twitter.

posted at Paddy-Whacked Radio™ and Copyright 2010 Natalie Herman and Paddy-Whacked Radio™

New release by Neil Hannon / The Divine Comedy: Bang Goes The Knighthood


New release and tour dates from Neil Hannon / The Divine Comedy. Read about it on Paddy-Whacked Radio™.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Colm Quearney's new release, Root to the Fruit


Colm Quearney's new release, Root to the Fruit

Read about it on Paddy-Whacked Radio™

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Transcript of Episode 1 - A Chat with Mundy

The following is a transcript of the podcast: Episode 1 - A Chat With Mundy

Natalie Herman: Hi, this is Natalie and I'm here with Mundy.

Mundy: Hello!

NH: Hi, Mundy!

M: How are you?

NH: Good, how are you?

M: Fairly good.

NH: You're over here in the United States for. . .?

M: I'm here for two-and-a-half days, actually. I got offered a gig last night for the Craic Festival and I was kinda playing before - or after - no sorry, after the premiere of an Irish movie.

NH: Well, this is actually the 12th annual Craic Fest and you've been over here for the Craic Fest how many times now?

M: I think I've done about four or five of them now.

NH: I know that you were here in 2008.

M: Yep.

NH: You did that one, and you were here in September of last year for the Wee Craic.

M: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so I've done Wee Craics and Craics. And I've probably done three Craics and two Wee Craics.

NH: For any of the American people that are listening to this interview that might not understand what "craic" is, it's spelled c-r-a-i-c -

M: - Yeah -

NH: - and it's Irish for. . .?

M: Fun.

NH: For "fun."

M: For madness, fun, good - good times.

NH: Okay.

M: Good times. It's a positive - it's a positive word.

NH: Okay, well that's great. It - it sounds like a lot of fun. Just the word itself sounds like fun.

M: Crrrrraaiic. Yep.

NH: You actually are familiar with the Gaeilge language. Do you speak. . .?

M: I can speak a few little things, but I'm not - I wouldn't be going around Ireland showing off, you know? I have - I . . . No. I can speak a few bits, but I - to be honest, I failed it in my last exams in school. I failed that particular subject, the Irish language. And I actually got French. I got - passed my French.

NH: Oh!

M: I did Irish for 12 years and I did French for five.

NH: Okay, let's have something in French.

M: What does that say about the fuckin' education system? Something in French? (speaks phrase)

NH: What's that?

M: It means, "Give us a cup of coffee."

NH: All right! You were involved in the Ceol music project. [note: I have since learned the proper pronunciation. I hope.]

M: Yep.

NH: Can you explain what that is?

M: That's basically getting all the kinda musicians in Ireland that are, you know, kinda well-known to put one of their songs in Irish - in the Irish language - and record it. So it's usually kind of a hit, or something that people kind of know, and then it's. . . Kind of the whole idea is that the kids that are in school get to hear somebody that they know from the radio or like or you know, a hero of theirs somehow - to hear them sing something in Irish. It's kind of, basically, a disguise. It's kind of like basically a re-. . .It's just like basically a way of trying to get the kids to learn the language. And so, I've done about three or four of my own songs and I actually did it based on the - the reason that I failed it in my leaving cert and I was kinda wishing one of my heroes at the time sang one of their songs in Irish, which wasn't happening. And also because I wanted to see if I can actually - if one of my songs would sound any good in Irish. And. . .and it turns out that one of them did.

NH: Well I think that's a great idea that - you know, motivating the children by - through example.

M: Yeah, well absolutely - you're kinda going, 'You know, if Jimi Hendrix, who was one of my heroes when I was in school - I mean, he's kinda part Indian. If he started, kind of, talking about Indian education or something, you know, and reservations and the whole history - you know, I'd be kind of. . .I would have soaked it up! Never happened, but it's all about, basically, when you're actually completely dumbfounded by somebody when they take you down - they can take you down any laneway in life. Cos you'll follow them to the end, you know?

NH: That's true, that's true. It's - our. . .our heroes have a - a great capacity of -

M: Absolutely

NH: - of steering our own lives -

M: Yeah

NH: - and our own courses.

M: In fact, I've actually had to shake off some of my heroes, because I started dressing like them and talking like them, walking like them. Writing songs like them. So I kinda don't listen - I could name a few people here now that I don't listen to anymore, not because I don't love them. It's because I love them too much.

NH: Yep.

M: Not going to name them, though.

NH: We'll leave it a big secret, so.

M: We're all ripping each other off at the end of the day, but you know, it's kinda . . .

NH: Yeah, I guess another example would be Paul Noonan and the Talking Heads.

M: Exactly. Yeah.

NH: I mean, you listen to the Bell X1 - their newest album - you hear how much he was influenced.

M: You hear him wearing - you can. . yeah, he's wearing David's pajamas [inaudible].

NH: Yeah.

M: Fair play to him, but I don't think he hides that, you know what I mean?

NH: No, no he doesn't. And. . .and. ..

M: But his lyrics, though, are completely his own. I'll give Paul Noonan 100%.

NH: Yeah, what I love about that is the way he . . .he. . .he gives little nods to all of the things that have influenced him, like, you know, the Oscar Wilde quote here, and, like, you know. . .he - he takes pop culture and he kind of gives a little - his own twist to it.

M: Yeah.

NH: And - and it's kind of a way of engaging - engaging people, I think.

M: I've. . .I've - I've started off a few of my songs with other people's lyrics, just to get me going.

NH: Well, there's no new ideas under the sun.

M: Yeah, yeah, yeah. . .

NH: It's just. . .it's just recycled everywhere. Is there anyone that you've ever met that you were completely starstruck meeting them?

M: Well, the most hypnotic person is Shane MacGowan.

NH: Yeah?

M: Like literally, it's like. . .[whooshing noise]. It's like. . .could be half nine at nighttime and then. . .it's half eleven in the morning next day, and you're going, 'That was two hours long.' And it's probably because he talks slower than the average person, but he's very interesting as well. And there would be a concoction of accessories there to slow time down, but he blows me away, I have to say. Like, I've met - I did - when I did my 24 Star Hotel, Madonna was recording one of her albums - Music - is that what it's called? Music? - in the same studio in London and she used to come in and out. Her soup used to be in the fridge beside my soup with cellophane over it. 'Mundy' written on top of it and 'Madonna,' and it was like 'Ohh, hi how are you?' You know? Kind of thing. And - but - but you never really get to chat. Neil Young. I met Neil Young, you know him. But you never really get to hang out with many of them. Some of them you don't want to hang out with. But Shane is the . . .kinda the biggest legend that I've met that I've spent a lot of time with and he just blows my mind.

NH: Have you worked with Shane?

M: He sang on my last album, Strawberry Blood. And he was - it was the first concert I ever saw, when I was 14, was The Pogues. In a place called Shinrone in County Offaly, where my dad was born, and where his - all his family are from, actually. Well, near there. So it's a very appropriate thing and I think that's how we got on, is that we kinda share the same neck of the woods and we're fairly . . .we drank from the same stream - do you know that kind of a way?

NH: Yeah.

M: But he's the one who kinda blows me away cos like - if you go on the internet, like, he's hanging out with Lou Reed, he's hanging out with Bono, he's hanging out with like Nick Cave, he's hanging out - you know, it's like how the hell is he even, like, tolerating listening to me, you know?

NH: Well, speaking of Bono, I did want to ask you about the - the Simon project. The - the Christmas busk. Tell me about that.

M: Well, that was funny, because. . .musicians work in funny ways, but Glen Hansard being an old friend of mine. . .Glen said, 'Oh, back in town, going busking,' it's . . .it was two or three days before Christmas Eve. He said 'do you want to come play with me outside Bewleys?" I said, 'Absolutely, what the hell!' So the two of us played and we earned something like 900 euros and 4 p or something when we counted it and we went down that night to Simon Community and gave him in one of - in a big woolly hat that Glen had. We presented him with the money we made. They were blown away, so we went out, we got drunk that night and he said, 'do you fancy doing it on Christmas Eve?' and I was like, 'Absolutely!' 'So, good,' he says, 'All right. I'm going to get - I'm going to round up a bunch of troops.' So he asked Damien Rice to come, Declan O'Rourke. . . Ah, no! We met Declan O'Rourke on the road, actually. So he - I gave him my mandolin and I got a guitar. Who else? Liam Ó Maonlaí - there was plenty of great musicians and Glen said, 'I've asked another few big, big heads to come down - like big hitters.' I was like, 'Who?' I was going, '. . .like Bono?' And he goes, 'Yeah. But! I can't say anything. . .no point in saying it unless he turns up.' He goes, 'It's most likely that he'll turn up.' There was a couple of others that he asked who were a bit vague, but Bono was like, 'I'm definitely going down for a song.' And lo and behold. . .

And Declan O'Rourke went in to get his - cos it was Christmas Eve - he went in to get his DVDs.

NH: Oh no. . .

M: Cos he's going, 'I need to get - I have four presents - four more presents on my list to get.' He goes 'I'll be back in a minute, hold my mandolin.'

NH: Oh, no. . .

M: And he goes in, right, and Bono comes along and sings 'Stand By Me', 'One', 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door', and something else. Then he heads off, and Declan come in, 'Yeah, did I miss anything?'

NH: Oh, no!

M: 'Not really. Bono just came out and sang a few songs.'

NH: Did he believe you?

M: He was going, 'Fuck off!' So, I - yeah, he was. . .he was - his DVDs. He was gonna - he felt like burning them.

NH: I would imagine that's - that's a -

M: - But he was cool, like, I mean - Bono came in and he kinda - I met - I shook hands with him twice, I think, before. Cos I won a Meteor Award for Best Irish Male years ago. And him and Van Morrison and Paul Brady were in the same category. And I went up to him in a nightclub and was like, 'Sorry about that, Bono.' And he was like, 'You're a good songwriter.' And then he just left. I mean I think he just, fucking. . was like 'Get me away from that big bog man!' So, he wasn't into . . .

NH: And you were up for a. . .

M: He's a hero of mine, by the way.

NH: Oh, he's a hero of mine, as well.

M: Yeah.

NH: I think there's very few people that don't appreciate U2 in at least some way. They - they've really made

M: You gotta hand it to - you know, like - Irish people go, 'Ahh, he's a bit of a gobshite, and he's this and he's' - gobshite is a big word in Ireland. Gob. Shite. Which probably means that you talk - because your gob is your mouth. But everybody knows that he's put his neck on the train tracks and - for . . . for the world. And for life, and for famine, and for everything. And he's allowed to go around with his swagger. You know. Jesus! You have no problems with God. You kinda go, 'Listen, I'm gonna get off my face tonight, I've done enough work. Can I have no Catholic guilt in the morning? I don't want any guilt, any . . ." God probably goes, "Here's a little receipt."

NH: Your hall pass!

M: This means so when you're walking around with your guilt, you just kinda go, 'Oh, God gave me this piece of paper.'

NH: 'Please excuse Bono for his bad behaviour.'

M: Yeah, yeah! 'Please let - don't make Bono feel guilty today, cos he was a good boy.' Or 'he has done good. And he was really bold last night.'

NH: I have a lot of people that, when they find out I'm a U2 fan, they try to - "Oh, well, you know, Bono's so' - you know - 'he's so egotistical and he's so - he's so this' . . .well, yeah, he kinda - that's kinda the charm of him, though!

M: He's gotta be. Geez, he's gotta be. When he came - well, like when he came in, busking wouldn't be - like he would have come . . .it was probably punk, like, when U2. . . like - so busking would be - would have been just so, like, not cool. He would have been - I don't know what. But would have been kinda underground gigs, people spitting at each other and punching each other and fucking piercing their faces and I dunno. You know, barbed wire - you know it's that - you know just - it's all conflict and trouble and the was a lot of problems in the 70s, right? But - so the idea of Bono coming onto Grafton street busking without a microphone or anything to hang out of was like amazing! And he still - he. . .he . . .it was like a 360 gig, you know?

NH: Yeah! Yeah.

M: There's a thousand people sitting there - some were sitting, some were standing - it's like an amphitheatre of people and he was giving it as if he was on stage to like 80,000 people in Croke Park.

NH: And waving his umbrella. . .

M: He - yeah! But he was just giving it all that - you know, the way he like jumps out of his skin kind of thing. And - yeah. Geez, you can't knock a man for that.

NH: And anybody who missed out on that can go on Youtube and search -

M: He sang - he did his little kinda - you know the way he does an ad lib thing?

NH: Oh yeah.

M: He goes - and he called me 'Monday' -

NH: Monday.

M: And Damien, and Liam - and you know he kinda named everybody in the group, and he's got - he's definitely got the political . . .politician's mind as well in that like - I'm sure before he went there he was, 'All right, who are the lads in the circle?'

NH: But, you know, that - that shows -

M: - Care -

NH: Yeah! It does. Because he could have gone in there and - well, first he could have not shown up.

M: Yeah.

NH: He could have gone in there and said, 'you know, I don't care who any of you people are, I'm taking over this and it's going to be all about me, and. . '

M: I, actually, take my hat off to him.

NH: Well, you know, speaking of this whole 'egotistical musician' thing, what do you think the biggest trapping as a musician is? Being, you know, 'out there.' Being a popular musician. What's the biggest trapping?

M: The biggest trapping is a little bit of success. Because you just want a little bit more all the fucking time. And I've been very lucky. Fortunate. I've been lying on a soft couch in Ireland for a long time. I'm getting to play out of the country a good bit now, but. . .you were at the gig last night. Like, having to set up the P.A. and tell the sound guy that one of the monitors isn't working. And he goes, 'well it is working' and 'well, no it's not working.' And then you go, 'Well, because the fucking lead isn't plugged in, like." I'm kinda - it's been awhile since I've had to do all that kind of stuff. So the trapping in life is a taste of something good. Just a little bit, though. Because you can't get overindulgent - you know, you want more all the time, and that's just. . .I think that's the way . . .It's like - it's like being - experiencing the best, like, the most beautiful sunshine in a park and having a picnic. Makes you want to live for the rest of your life, because you've experienced it once. Riding a wave for the first time, riding a horse, jumping over a fence, getting over a fence, overcoming illness, telling somebody that you're sorry and realize - you know . . . it's like that's probably one of the biggest fucking weird things ever.

NH: Yeah, and you've played some really major venues in Ireland. . .

M: Yeah. I've played kinda everywhere you can play. Now, but I didn't headline everywhere that you can headline. But, I've been involved through some shape or form. And everybody kinda knows my name. And if they don't, they should. No. I. . . no. You know. I'm . . I'm . . only - yeah. I'm actually only kinda joking about that, but, like I - yeah, I've been involved to the point where I think I'm going to have to try and sow my seeds across different waters to - you know, reap them back at home again. You know, to another lev- I'm actually thinking of changing my name for an album. .

NH: Okay.

M: No, I'm not thinking. I'm doing it. I'm gonna go under my own name. Mundy's my nickname, but. . .so I'm doing a covers album at the moment, which is a collective of American songs that have influenced me over the years. And I'm going to go under Edmond John Enright. And basically - if I put it out under 'Mundy' it would kinda be just too. . .'Mundy'-ish, so I need to give that - that five letters a break. You know? And do it the way I do it. Without putting a cowboy hat on or hoody. Whatever I wear. You know? Just do it the way I do it in the bath.

NH: Well that's - that's -

M: - Raw.

NH: That's a really - a refreshing thing to - and it's always good, I feel, to see the people that you admire are also fans. You know?

M: Yeah.

NH: Because I a huge fan. I'm a huge fan of a lot of people. And I have always been influenced by what the people that I admire are influenced by. And I've - you know, I kinda . . .you follow that road and you keep finding new things. And some of the things that they admire, you might not care for, but some of the things, you might really love. In fact, I found U2 through somebody else that I admired. They were a U2 fan, and so I said, 'Well, let me check this band out.' And this was, you know, way back when.

M: Well, I'm . . .I'm - suppose recording my own songs, I always try. . .I always hope and wonder and wish that my heroes would appreciate them. Right? And then that can become a bloody nuisance, because you're kinda constantly not pleasing yourself, you're pleasing these fucking heroes of yours. You know, rather than being real, so, me doing my heroes songs, I'm actually pleasing myself. And I don't give a shit what they think.

NH: Well, that's -

M: Do you know? It's like - it's the one of the - I . . .listen. Anytime I record an album, I listen to it probably a few hundred times and kinda go, 'Wow, this is amazing', right? And then I kinda get - when it gets released, I kinda go, 'I'm sick of it.' But this covers thing, I'm kinda going, 'I don't care what Bob Dylan thinks about 'Buckets of Rain.' I don't care what Simon and Garfunkel think about 'Cathy's Song.' I don't care what Jimmie Rodgers thinks about 'Peach Picking Time In Georgia' or just - I'm letting them entertain me rather than me entertaining them, do you know what I mean? So, you kinda have to let life - you have to stand on your head sometimes and think about what's bugging you and how to . . . Remember I texted Debbie earlier on going 'I'm at the bar with a Bloody Mary saying my prayers' or something like that. I was kinda going , 'Maybe I shouldn't be texting that to her, I should be writing it in my book.' Cos it's probably a lyric, you know? And, actually, it's very similar to what Warren Zevon would have said - come out with, so. I actually did put it into my phone. But, like, that's the thing, you know? You kinda go, okay, if Im hungover all the time, I can't be sitting around complaining about looking for, like, headache tablets. I should write about it. I should write about the loneliness sitting in a bar having a Bloody Mary, doing all that. Everybody else has been through it. You know, it's. . .it's - it's like - you can turn an illness on its side and make gold out of it, you know what I mean? I'm not saying like hanging a hangover is an illness, but it's . . .it's a mild. . .it's a mild one!

NH: An example of that would be Frank McCourt writing about his childhood.

M: Yeah

NH: I mean, he could sit and whinge about it forever, or, you know, he could find a way -

M: Turn it on - turn it-

NH: - to make - to make it - to find peace with it. And also, to inspire so many other people.

M: Yeah.

NH: So, your songs. Is there any song of yours that you get tired of performing? T they shout up at you and you're like, 'I don't wanna sing that song!'

M: I have a - before I covered the 'Galway Girl,' I used to be sick of singing 'July.' Now everyone shouts for 'Galway Girl,' I'm like, 'I love 'July.'' But I used to be fucking sick of 'July.' You know, it's funny how. . .how. . .how things turn around. And you've got to be careful about what you cover, you know? You shouldn't do it for a joke. Because people might actually really like it. And you might have to do it for the rest of your life.

NH: Well, it's funny -

M: But it's a good song!

NH: The first time I ever heard 'Galway Girl' it was either late '90s or early 2000s - I don't even remember when the song was written. But I went to go see Mary Chapin Carpenter and she had two opening acts that I had not heard of - either one of them. But, the first one I didn't care for very much. The second one came out; he played some songs. He sounded pretty good, but he really captured my attention when he sang a song called 'Galway Girl.'

M: Who did? Oh, one of the covers? One of the opening acts?

NH: Yeah. And I - you know, i was already starting to, you know, be really into the Irish culture. I was very into that, so to have this guy come out here and sing this song 'Galway Girl,' that was a really . . . So I wrote down the name of the song, and I wrote down the guy's name and went home and tried to track it down. I couldn't find it, whatever. . .

M: Who was it?

NH: Steve Earle!

M: Supporting Mary Chapin Carpenter?

NH: Yeah. Steve Earle.

M: No way. . .

NH: And Steve Earle wrote 'Galway Girl.'

M: Yeah, I'm. . . I'm aware of that.

NH: Yeah, well, some people might not know -

M: You know he dedicated it to me in the Olympia. The last time he was in Ireland.

NH: He did?

M: Yeah. He said . . .he called me 'The Midlander' - because I'm from the midland of Ireland. He said, 'I'm responsible for writing this song, I've heard from many of my Irish friends that it's the biggest wedding song' . . .well, it's played at weddings and funerals and all sorts - it's just one of those - it's become bigger than itself, you know? And he said that 'Sharon Shannon played on the song and she's as responsible as I am. But the most responsible person for making it what it is now is The Midlander up there in the balcony, Mundy! Yay!' I was like, 'fucking. . .my God!!'

NH: That. . .that

M: You know, cos he is. . .he - I was a big hero of his. And i didn't - I was asked to do that song by a DJ. I didn't go out of my way to learn it. I was actually asked to learn it for a radio show.

NH: Really?

M: That's how it happened. A guy called Tom Dunne. He was an Irish DJ. Asked myself and Sharon would we do a collaboration on the night of his show from a venue. I actually read it off a sheet. And then there was people texting, 'Oh. play that again, play that again.' And then I did a live album, and then I asked her out as - for the last song. And that's how it look off. So it wasn't like a - me kinda going, 'this is going to be really successful or catchy or . . "

NH: Well, I was really kind of surprised when I came across your version of 'Galway Girl' because I was like, 'That's the song that I heard!' just. . . and I - you know, I didn't really know who sang it, who wrote it, whatever. And then when I looked it up, you know, I was looking at your album and it said 'S. Earle' and I was like, 'I heard him perform that!' I saw it the first time I heard that. So that was kind of a really cool thing for me.

Today FM. You did another cover.

M: Oh, with Gemma?

NH: No, it - for - it's on - it's on one of the -

M: 'Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer'?

NH: Did you do 'Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer'?

M: Yeah, I've done that one.

NH: I don't think I've heard that one! That - I've gotta look for that one!

M: What song would it be, then?

NH: It was on one of the

M: Shakira?

NH: That's the one. On the Even Better Than The Real Thing. How did you come about doing that one?

M: Well, unfortunately, what happens is with radio, they kinda go, 'Your new album's out! This is Mundy! This is his new album Strawberry Blood' or whatever. 'Will you learn a cover?' And you go, 'Well, I'll learn a cover, but I'm not fucking promoting my album, what's the point?' And they're going 'Well, you're not coming on the radio show unless you sing a stupid cover of somebody's that you wouldn't normally do.' So you kinda go, 'Well, I have to promote my album, and they give you three songs, and I just picked 'Wherever, Whenever' by Shakira. Cos she talks about her breasts being smaller than mountains or something.'

NH: Yes, that was -

M: But she's got a big booty.

NH: - a particularly interesting moment for me, to hear you sing that.

M: I thought she was very open about the whole thing.

NH: If you had to completely rework any one of your -

M: Shakira? If I had to rework what? One of my own songs?

NH: One of your own songs. Which one would it be, and for what reason?

M: Rework as in get someone else to sing it? Or . . .rearrange it myself?

NH: I mean, yeah. Take it apart, but it back together.

M: Ohh . . . Straight to mind is 'To You I Bestow', which is the one that was on the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack. I do a really nice finger-picking-y version of it. Because I think that my band now - we've been playing the song so long now, we're just fucking - kinda throwing them out there, you know? I don't think the band feels my emotions sometimes. And that's not - no problem to them. I'm not giving out about it, but I'm just saying. You do churn out lyrics sometimes. You now, you kind of - it has a bit of feeling that's going into some of these words. So I do actually a very slow version. Kinda Leonard-Cohen-y style where the words speak and music is only a background thing. Rather than the drummer, you know, and the rest of it kinda being brash. So that's one that comes to mind.

NH: I used to work in the music department of a shop when that soundtrack came out. And we could not keep it in stock.

M: Really?

NH: Ever. Ever. Ever. It was always gone. I think for about the first three months after it came out it was never in stock. The minute we got some in, they were gone off the shelves.

M: Well, I'm fond of my bacon and cabbage, and it's always put bacon on my plate. That's all. So.

NH: Now, you've got a big following. And since you do play in some small - smaller venues, you've gotten to know some of your fans on a personal basis.

M: Yeah.

NH: They get to come up to you and talk to you and everything. Have you ever had problems with privacy issues because of this?

M: Oh, yeah. But, that's probably down to my own trust. I kinda trust people. I always give them a chance. Everyone gets three chances with me. And I hate it when people abuse the first chance. You know?

NH: Yeah.

M: I've had a few fucking idiots come and . . .try - try to interrupt my life, you know? But they're gone. You know? And that's totally down to me being just a wide open space, to come and. . . You know the funny thing is, people - the more friendly you are to them, or the more open the shutters are, they kind of have a good look around and then start stealing. You know?

NH: Yeah.

It's like, they don't actually come in and go, 'Thanks for letting me in your room, and they don't tidy up for you, they kinda just fucking have a little piss on your couch and then they split, you know? So, and it's terrible, but I think I'm going to carry on being an open person. Because I don't think - there's - I think there's less bad people out there than there are good people. So I don't think you should judge, but yeah.

NH: Well, for your fans that are the good people -

M: Yeah -

NH: What would you like them to know about you, personally? What's something that you most wish that your fans knew about you? That maybe is not something that people know?

M: That I make a mean tuna melt.

NH: Do you? That sounds delicious. You'll have to make me one.

M: That's . . that's - well I'm - I smoke one cigarette every day.

NH: Really?

M: Yeah

NH: How'd you - how'd you come about that?

M: I smoked about ten last night. But I hadn't been out for ten days. No, I just - what do. . .? I don't know. I've got driving lessons. I only learned to drive four years ago.

NH: Did you really?

M: Now I'm the king of the road.

NH: Are you gonna sing us that song?

M: (starts to sing then stops) Yes, I'll sing that later. That'll be an application.

NH: Okay. All right, well thank you so much for your time.

M: Okay.

NH: It's - it's been great and - enjoy your trip back home.

M: I hope it was good enough.

NH: It should be great!

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Music Review: STAND - 100,000 Ways to Harvest Hope


From the moment that the electric guitar kicks in on "Love Will Never Creep In," it is evident that STAND has put out a rock album. Carl Dowling's sonorous drums define this song and play a giant role in the giant sound of 100,000 Ways to Harvest Hope, STAND's 5th official studio album. As it states in the CD sleeve, "these ten songs were recorded in nine days in June of 2009 in Buffalo, NY."

The first single, "The Living Kind" - from which the album title is derived - is a raucous roller coaster ride. They get more bang for their buck when both Alan Doyle (guitar and vocals) and Neil Eurelle (bass and vocals) employ a harmony so subtle it sounds like a melody by a fifth "supergroup" member.

Far from the misogyny sometimes associated with rock and roll, STAND demonstrates their love and respect to the women in their lives with reverent odes to "Olivia" and the unnamed "She."

"Nature My Mother" also pays respect to the feminine, speaking of environmental issues that are particularly relevant in light of events of January 2010 and as recent as 2 days prior to the record's release. The elegy is a lament for the abuse suffered to the planet and also a warning that earthly retribution is imminent.

The socially-conscious band shakes a collective finger at society in the sardonic "Generation Me." They don't hold themselves above contempt, though, with lines like "my thousand unknown Facebook friends / only serve my means to an end."

Fans looking for the signature STAND ballads will be appeased with the glowing coals of Doyle's voice on "Nature My Mother" and the acoustic "Stuck in My Shoes." Harmony vocals and Dowling's whispering drums take this song to a new level of beauty, while David Walsh's keys are the driving force in "Nature".

The final analysis reveals a well thought-out disc that runs through entirely too quickly. All that in nine days? Imagine what they might have achieved if they had taken longer.

100,000 Ways to Harvest Hope was released on March 1, 2010, is now available worldwide on iTunes and all major music sites. Hard copies of the CD will be available in ALL major record stores in Ireland starting Friday, March 5.

STAND begins a promo tour of the northeastern U.S. on March 12 in Pittsburgh, PA, and hits five states in 16 days, including a stop at The Bowery Ballroom in New York with Roger Bryan and the Orphans and new Meteor-award winners, The Coronas.

Copyright © 2010 Natalie Herman and Paddy-Whacked Radio™
Originally posted at Paddy-Whacked Radio™

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Music Review: David Hopkins - There Are Debts


There Are Debts is the latest release by David Hopkins. Hopkins, formerly of the band Lir, has put together yet another stunning CD. The subdued titular song is a duet with Damien Rice and features a mournful piano and a subtle brass arrangement.

Dutch songstress Laura Jansen (who toured with Joshua Radin in 2008), provides backing vocals on this and three other tracks. When she duets with Hopkins on the melancholy "Dublin," we fully realize how beautifully-matched their voices are.

However, the star power on There Are Debts is not the most impressive thing about it; its value lies in the songs themselves. The songs refuse to follow a formula and each is exciting and addictive. The earnestness with which Hopkins delivers his lyrics - he is the sole songwriter on this disc - is as impressive as the cleverness of the lyrics themselves.

Immediately Hopkins grabs your attention with the confident, "I Want Your Love," a rocking number that gives you a good indication of what the next forty minutes has in store. It makes a great first impression -- one which doesn't disappoint.

"God You're Letting Me Down" stands out as the strongest song in all aspects: the lyrics are unflinchingly honest and address the desperation many feel when looking at the world today. ("Come on, you're long overdue, give me some reason to trust you.") In addition to being a superiorly-written song lyrically, the hook is gripping and the musical composition comes as close to a "perfect" song as I have heard in years. Gorgeous backing vocals and an overlapping chorus form a grand finish very fitting of this tune.

One would think that a song like that would be impossible to follow as a mid-disc track, but Hopkins is too quick to fall into that trap. The Caribbean rhythm of "Money" is fun and light-hearted while taking a pithy dig at materialism.

Hopkins himself is a gifted vocalist, but he has learned how to multiply the quality of that gift by employing many harmonies and backing vocals, like in the piano-driven "In the Country."

"When I Was Young" is a feat of drumming excellence with an unintentional admonition: "when I was young I was told that my days were done / so I acted like someone who was no one / when I was young I was made to feel nothing / so I acted like someone who was nothing."

It's clear that writing is also a strong suit with Hopkins, and we get many fine examples of that on this disc. "Angels in the Satellites" has a jubilant chorus which is impossible to ignore, and the song is replete with unique and inventive similes which are a writer's delight. The Who's Pete Townshend calls him "a kick in the arse to his genre."

As if to prove that Hopkins doesn't take himself too seriously, the album closes with "Igloo": a tongue-in-cheek love song. Well, Hopkins is correct in stating, "We are crazy, but no one's perfect."

With this disc, he comes close.

There Are Debts was released in September of 2009 and is available on iTunes, Amazon downloads, CD Baby, and other music retailers.

Copyright © 2010 Natalie Herman and Paddy-Whacked Radio™

Originally posted on Paddy-Whacked Radio™