Ember-tainment... and an announcement from REM I went to see the Embers and Patiosounds (alloneword? Ithinkso) in Katy Daly's last night, and despite the dwindling crowd and general lack of atmosphere I really enjoyed it. It was my first time seeing Patiosounds and I would definitely pay them another visit, but I was really there to see how the Embers are getting on. I thought it was one of the best shows that I had seen them play, they focussed mostly on material from their forthcoming 3rd EP and it was pretty impressive. The new songs are available as mp3s on their website here.
Secondly, the news broke yesterday that REM were set to play Belfast in February 2005. It is being billed as their first ever show in Northern Ireland, although I'd love to check out their early dates as someone once told me they played here in 1984-85 around the time of 'Fables of the Reconstruction'. I don't know if they did or not, all I know is that I saw them in Dublin 1989 (boy, do I ever feel old sometimes!) and they were absolutely fantastic. I have never seen them since and the last album I have is 'Automatic for the People' which I'm not a huge fan of. Anyway, yesterday I checked out the ticket prices and was shocked to find that they are £38 and £40. When Gillian got home I told her about the gig and asked her how much she would pay to see REM. She said £40, I said Ok then, and a few minutes later I'm on the promoter's pre-sale website £80 poorer and 2 REM tickets better off. I have never paid more than £30 to see anyone ever so they better be good!
Finally, I am aware that some of you people with Internet Explorer and Windows (apparently it's catching on!) are having trouble with the gig review windows. I am looking at this and hope to sort it later today. Cheers.
Yes, but what's that song?? Something odd happened on Friday night, and it happened again this morning. I heard a song on the radio that I really liked and I didn't catch the name of the band. The latter was particularly unfortunate as I only missed the title because my clock radio had gone into ear-spiltting beeping mode as Chris Moyles was about to say who it was. Thanks to the magic of BBC Radio Player I was able to listen again, only to find out that the song in question was the new single by Razorlight. Earlier in the year I heard this band just before they came to Belfast as part of Music Live and dismissed them completely, consequently ignoring them when they returned to play a sold out Empire last week. However, on the strength of their new single I'll be investigating them further.
Some words about this site There will be no major changes until October. New reviews this month include PJ Harvey, Tracer AMC, Torgas Valley Reds, and I have uploaded a rough reviews index, although it still needs a bit of tweaking. Thanks to a program called Nicecast I will also be testing the possibilities of streaming some audio to accompany the site, but this won't be happening until I return from Italy at the end of September. In October I will be adding some brand new interviews and they will ALL be with bands from this part of the world. No names yet as the bands haven't been confirmed.
Belfast Festival at Queens All the info is here. Some decent music I suppose, Dizzee, David Kitt, Rufus Wainwright and Iron and Wine to name a few. I think I can only make it to the Kittser and Iron and Wine but things may change.
Congrats to Franz and Domino! Well done to Franz Ferdinand and Domino records for scooping the Mercury the other night. One of the best live bands I've seen all year, but then as Jo Wylie patronisingly reminded Minnie Driver on the awards show "It's all about the album you know"
The Mercury Music Prize 2004 The result is announced tonight on BBC4 and Radio 1. It's odd because it's the first time in quite a few years that I've heard most of the albums - the only ones I don't know are Jamelia and Ty. Full list and samples here if anyone is really bothered about such things. I would love Robert Wyatt or Belle and Sebastian to win, but I don't expect them to.
Review: TRACER AMC + TORGAS VALLEY REDS
Belfast Auntie Annie's 5th September 2004
The difficult thing about local music is that the good bands are spread so thin that you end up seeing them far more often than you might like. In my opinion, Tracer and Torgas are head and shoulders above any other acts from Northern Ireland and consequently I have seen both of them an awful lot.
Tonight they are both sound fresh to me as I haven't seen either of them in a few months, plus the PA in Auntie Annie's has been beefed up a bit and this gives both bands an extra kick.
Having started off this review by lumping both bands together I should point out that they are actually quite different in terms of the music they play. Torgas Valley Reds are a powerful three-piece who play infectiously catchy punk rock, coming across as a reinvigorated version of their earlier band Backwater with better songs. The debut single 'Torgas Valley Blue'/ ' Me and My Buddies Would Vote For You' is a good place to start, and judging by tonight's set there's a lot more where that came from. They have been very prolific during their brief existence and I've watched their set expand and contract as they add and drop songs each time they play, although I get the feeling it is now shaping up to be a very strong half hour of songs.
Tracer AMC by contrast are an all instrumental four piece who earlier this released their debut album 'Flux and Form' to healthy acclaim from radio and press types all over the place. They do fit broadly into the post-rock pigeonhole with long songs, time changes and intricate guitar parts, but instead of just copying a formula Tracer have something distinct. Tonight they ignore most of the debut album to concentrate on new material, most of which is being heard for the first time. On initial hearing it seems rawer, edgier than the album material, and it goes down well. It will be interesting to hear how the recorded versions sound, but it bodes very well for the follow-up to 'Flux and Form'.
Gigs... and developments Amidst all the upheaval invloved with changing computers, I have been able to get to a couple of shows lately. One was the Guided By Voices album launch night, which basically turned into an album playback with some solo performances of GBV material by local musicians - mainly Barry from Torgas Valley Reds, and most of Olymic Lifts. These only served to remind us what great songs GBV have released over the years, they shine especially when compared to the fairly standard fair of the new album. I've only heard it twice now, and it is pretty good, though I don't think it'll win them many new fans.
I also caught Lambchop at the Empire in Belfast on Sunday. It's a long time since I've seen them - in fact I think it was the Royal Festival Hall on the Nixon tour - and I was pleased to see they've ditched some of the glossiness of that tour to adapt a more rock n roll approach. Some very old material ("Cowboy on the Moon", 'Betweenmus") and a few crowd pleasers made for a good show.
PJ Harvey tomorrow night as well, can't wait!
As for developments, all I say that with this months update we will be moving more down the road of sounds and pictures, rather than text heavy articles. Fingers crossed.