Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Your Monday morning re-up. Now with extra relish.

(1) The first great album of 2009 has arrived. Animal Collective’s hypnotic, bewitching, beguiling, be-gob-awesome “Merriweather Post Pavilion” has a majestic sense of purpose which is just going to rule in the next 12 months. If last year’s “Strawberry Jam” …

Mon, Dec 1, 2008, 09:23


(1) The first great album of 2009 has arrived. Animal Collective’s hypnotic, bewitching, beguiling, be-gob-awesome “Merriweather Post Pavilion” has a majestic sense of purpose which is just going to rule in the next 12 months. If last year’s “Strawberry Jam” was a little overshadowed by Panda Bear’s solo run with “Person Pitch”, there will be no such mis-steps this time around. After a weekend spent listening to it over and over again, “My Girls” (which is perhaps Noah’s finest moment to date – it sounds like the loveliest recession 2.0 era ode imaginable to his wife and daughter), the outrageous “Brother Sport” (a track which will knock your head off as it goes about its business) and “Summertime Clothes” are the ones I keep coming back to.

After the jump: Malcom Gladwell and his hair, Foals, pubs with no cash, Wolf Parade, Kanye West and much, much more

(2) I wonder will the John Hume Institute folks get as many people in the room for their next lecture as they had at UCD last Thursday night. With all due respect to future speakers RTE’s Clare Duignan and the Times’ Fintan O’Toole, they don’t have quite the same pulling power (or magnificent afros) as Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point and Blink big-brain took one tale from his new book Outliers, the one about plane crashes involving Columbian and Korean airlines, and spun it into an hour’s quality muse about cultural checks and balances. I also liked the hints he gave about a future article/book based around the notion of solutions for problems that no-one realised existed (Pro-Tools, Google etc). Blogging colleague Bryan also reports from the chinwag. And I hope I was not the only one in the audience to quietly chuckle at the notion of Denis “The Menace” O’Brien getting thanked for “supporting” the night out (ie he probably paid some of Gladwell’s big fee) which just happened to be in a venue featuring the name – and cash, we presume – of his great rival, Tony “Tony” O’Reilly?

(3) The end is nigh (part 1,908). From Saturday’s paper, the Thomas Read pub group has gone into examinership. While you’d think that a company with a portfolio of 22 Dublin ale-houses (and the Ri-Ra nightclub) would be making cash hand over fist flogging pints to punters, it seems that they are instead nearly €27 million in the hole. What I find interesting about this is that the current Thomas Read owners inherited a large debt when they took over the chain in 2005. Obviously, the banks who gave them the cash to do the deal in the first place thought that there would never be a problem making it all back. Wonder did any bank staff get a bonus for doing that particular deal?

(4) Incoming! While we’re beginning to think that 2009 is shaping up to be a year when we will see less and less gigs in Ireland, there are some exceptions. The fantastic Deerhunter play Belfast’s Black Box on March 6 and Dublin’s Whelan’s the following night. “Never Stops” is just amazing, isn’t it?

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(5) Outgoing! Per Lauren, Jay Reatard has pulled his rescheduled Dublin show for next February. That’s the show which was announced to make up for his no-show in Dublin a few weeks ago. Dude blanks Ireland again. Anyone know the story here? We’re assuming the rescheduled date had been agreed and signed off on and all of that, yeah?

(6) From the stalls. Foals were one of the acts who impressed me at this year’s Electric Picnic so I was keen to see them at the Ambassador last week. They’re a band who’re at their most interesting when they’re not playing to the gallery and here’s where the problems lie for album number two and onwards begin. For as good as “Antidotes” is – and it is one of those albums from this year which still flourishes with every listen – the band have the musical and conceptual wherewithal to go much, much further with their sound than that. Problems could occur if the band decide not to do anything to scare the horses and simply repeat rather than rework the formula. By the time that album (“More Antidotes”?) comes along, their audience may well be watching something else other than Skins. Lets hope the band will take the roads less cantered.

(7) It’s hard to imagine any other globe-trotting, blockbusting, best-selling rapper other than Kanye West (his blog is here) producing an album as arresting, bold, striking and emotionally open as “808s & Heartbreak”. It took the death of his mother and the break-up of a relationship for West to take stock of where he was at and realise that buying bling is not all it’s cracked up to be – “my friend showed me pictures of his kids/All I could show him was pictures of my cribs”. A series of eerie, fragile duets between the Roland 808 drum-machine and the Antares Auto-Tune yoke, it’s truly one of the most startling and welcome rebirths of the year. Here’s a cracking Hype Williams flick for one of the cuts.

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(8) From the cheap seats. In a time when gigs are stiffing and acts are under-performing, it was quite striking to see the size of the crowd which Wolf Parade pulled at Vicar Street at the weekend. Chalk it down to new album “From Mt Zoomer” or the various Wolf-ish offshoots doing the rounds or perhaps even the fact that the band haven’t played here since November 2005 (I’m fairly sure they haven’t been here since then). I thoroughly enjoyed the show – Ian, though, didn’t – and especially the likes of “Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”, “I’ll Believe In Anything” and “This Heart’s On Fire” from the “Apologies to the Queen Mary” album. The way things are going, it might be three years before they’re back here again.

(9) Hands up how many On The Record readers know who Chris Brown is? No Google cheating, you hear. Thought so. And yeah, you’re right, I didn’t have a clue who he was either. He is, we now know, the r’n'b dude who has just added a third Dublin show at the 02 in January having already sold out two shows there (and one in Belfast) in the time it takes to text “OMG CHRS BRWN DBLN!!! LOLOLOL etc”. When that show sells out (and it will inevitably do so within a few minutes on Wednesday morning), you’re looking at a monster 52,000 ticket splurge on Brown in Ireland. Recession, what bleedin’ recession?