Monday, September 29, 2008

to the beat of the drum, bang!

Dublin. It’s often described as nothing more than a big village. I estimate that in Dublin there’s only three degrees of separation between everyone living there. Whenever I go into Dublin city centre (which is actually most days, because that’s where I work) I always meet someone I know. If I don’t meet someone I know then I at least meet someone who knows someone I know. I think you get the idea.

Last week I had a chance encounter with an aspiring local musician. The chance encounter wasn’t actually such a chance encounter as it now appears we were aware of each other’s existence for at least a few months. However, this awareness was limited to virtual awareness i.e. on the interweb. I’ve struck up a number of virtual relationships at this stage. Not the kind of relationships that have a young woman in front of a webcam doing peculiar things with vegetables and the like. No, these are more cerebral relationships. In some cases it’s admiration for another’s blogging, in other cases it’s as a result of their musical output and then there are other cases where a series of comments lead to a realisation that I actually know the other person in real life.

In this instance the chap I’m talking about is Conor Furlong. He’s recently released an album of self-penned tunes entitled ‘Eternal’. He was kind enough to give me a copy of the album the other day and I did actually get around to listening to it, albeit just the one listen. First impressions are that Conor's voice is reminiscent of a track that I recently heard by One Day International. By that I don’t mean that the songs or arrangements are similar but I actually mean that the vocals were quite similar to one another. Aside from the vocal similarity (that probably only exists in my head), the rest of the album is a very understated collection of pop songs with a backing track of simple electronic beats and layers of atmospheric sounds. It's not an album that you'd put on before a night out, you're more likely to put it on to unwind in the small hours. Coincidentally, One Day International also have a new album out entitled Blackbird. Both albums are available to buy at

I picked up a few seven inches in recent days that might tickle the fancy of a few freaks like myself. I picked up what appears to be the first single release, Magic Man, from The Aliens new album Luna. When I first heard it I thought that its another tune that sounds like old Jesus and Mary Chain. On the second listen I decided that it sounded more like Super Furry Animals. On the third listen I'm veering towards the more obscure Beatles sound a la Sergeant Peppers. I have to stop listening to it as I'm running out of things to compare it to. Have you noticed a theme in this blog? I never actually review anything, I just compare it to other stuff.

Another new release on seven inch comes in the form of a peculiar take on hip-hop as espoused by Flobots, a group from Denver in the US. It's two MC's with a band behind them. There's little mainstream hip-hop to compare it to and I dismissed it on first listen. Since then I've gone and listened to a few of their other tunes and it gives me a better idea about what they're trying to do. The only reason I bought it was for the DJ Shadow remix on the b-side. It's a much more uptempo interpretation of the tune and the beats are rocking. The chorus is still annoying me though.

Another unusual new seven inch is one that I came across in All City Records. It was released on The TruThoughts label and it's by Australian soulsters The Bamboos. It features Megan Washington on guest vocals doing a cover version of the Kings of Leon's 'King of the Rodeo'. Better still, the b-side has a tune called 'Can't Help Myself' that features Ty, one of my favourite UK rap artists. It's the bomb.

Not content with just bagging these new seven inches, I went and bought a few odds and ends. When I say odds and ends I really mean odds. A couple of boxes of dusty sevens arrived in Beatfinder Records the other day and I spent a chunk of my lunch break getting my fingers dirty whilst flicking through them. I managed to pull out a 45 by The Sound Stage Orchestra on BBC Records. The a-side is the theme tune to Grandstand whilst the b-side is the theme tune from Rugby Special called Holy Mackerel. They're both great. Very much of their time but still very appealing to the modern listener. Another freaky purchase was a flexi-single from the late seventies featuring Noel Edmonds introducing three of his favourite songs. The tunes are shit but I've a feeling that Noel's voice will be appearing in a future podcast. The last seven inch that I picked up is my current personal favourite. It's Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra (better known as the them from 2001 Space Odyssey) arranged and adapted by Eumir Deodato, the Brazilian musician, composer and producer. This tune won the 1973 Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental so its not just me that thinks its great. Deodato is still out there producing stuff but check him out below, performing in 1980 with his band and accompanying orchestra.

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