Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion People...

Chicago’s prince of oddball pop Ezra Furman takes a slanted and enchanted approach to making music on third album Perpetual Motion People.Furman follows up the highly acclaimed 2013 release Day of the Dog with a record that mixes up the pop jigsaw pieces to produce something that is hugely inventive, rewarding and constantly surprising. It’s fuelled by a nervous, twitchy energy and pulls from a bewildering array of influences, hopping genres with consummate ease.  On opener ‘Restless Year’ Furman riffs over a clattering beat, name checking Dostoevsky and Tom Sawyer while singing ‘Making my rounds in my five dollar dress,  I can’t go home, no I’m not homeless,  I’m just another savage in the wilderness,  And if you can’t calm down you can listen to this..’ with admirable ferocity. Furman’s vision of pop is one that seems blissfully unaware of current trends and fashions – the doo-wop backing vocals and sax attack of ‘Lousy Connection’ form the backdrop for one of the many hook laden tunes on an album generously stocked with them. ‘Haunted Head’ has an authentically Bowie-esque feel while ‘Hour of Deepest Need’ mines more grizzled territory, the low-fi country charm of Neil Young an obvious reference point. On ‘Ordinary Life’ Furman claims ‘I’m sick of this record already..’ but songs like ‘Tip of a Match’ and ‘Body Was Made’ continue in the same impressively raucous, inventive vein, ensuring that boredom is never a factor. Furman’s genius is in his ability to marry a diverse array of sounds and influences and turn them into something cohesive and uniquely his own. With Perpetual Motion People, Ezra Furman has produced one of the 2015’s most wildly inventive pop statements – he continues to operate in the margins, some distance from pop music’s rigidly formulaic core and...

Ham Sandwich live @ Cyprus Avenue Saturday May 2nd 2015...

Anthony Kelly reports on Ham Sandwich’s return to Cork on the back of a number one album in the Irish charts.

Loving the 80s: 10 Song-writers that soundtracked the decade Aug01

Loving the 80s: 10 Song-writers that soundtracked the decade...

10 song-writers that sound-tracked the eighties.

Roddy Frame – Seven Dials...

Growing old gracefully is not a concept embraced by all pop stars still plying their trade as the inevitable slide towards middle age sets in. Their gaudy attempts to recapture the glory days can often be painfully embarrassing to watch. Eighties teen idol Roddy Frame has long recognised that the adulation he once enjoyed as a bona fide pop star with his band Aztec Camera is a thing of the past but there is still music to be made, songs to be sung. He served his song-writing apprenticeship as part of the embryonic Postcard Records scene; the legendary Scottish label is fondly remembered as a breeding ground for acts with a commitment to the ideal of intelligent, classy pop music. In 1983, Aztec Camera released their classic debut album High Land, Hard Rain; Frame was just nineteen years old and found himself a fully fledged pop star with the hit single ‘Oblivious’ securing his place as an eighties icon. Further success followed – hit singles like ‘Somewhere In My Heart’ demonstrated Frame’s flair for penning catchy, memorable tunes, a talent that continues to shine undimmed on this his fourth solo album, Seven Dials. This is a collection of poignantly beautiful, timeless pop songs infused with a wisdom and maturity that befits Frame’s status as a musician and songwriter with over thirty years on the clock. It’s a record gilded with wistful observations on the passage of time, and Frame’s finely honed gift for crafting near perfect melodies. Songs like the brisk ‘Forty Days of Rain’ with its Dylan-esque harmonica intro and ‘Fly Into the Sun’ are lively up-tempo numbers that are instantly memorable. On the pensive and evocative ‘English Garden’ Frame sings: ‘Now in every room a different sorrow hangs|And the past is like...

She & Him – Volume 3...

The queen of quirky cool Ms Zooey Deschanel is back with another instalment of her highly successful collaboration with indie-folk songwriter M.Ward under the moniker She & Him. Volume III is actually the duo’s fourth album – and further evidence that Deschanel has something of the Midas touch. It seems the terminally cute actress turned chanteuse can do no wrong; in a career spanning fourteen years she has managed the rare feat of appealing to both the indie hipster set and a more mainstream audience with considerable aplomb. There have been rumblings of a Deschanel backlash of late – her TV show New Girl is quirky cute overkill and has led to some former ardent fans admitting  feelings of ‘Zooey fatigue’, but her popularity with the masses shows no sign of waning. When actors decide to launch a career in music, there is inevitable scepticism but right from the release of her debut album with She & Him in 2008, Deschanel’s excursion into the world of pop was warmly greeted. The She & Him take on breezy, fifties and sixties style pop had a retro charm that fitted in very nicely with Deschanel’s own public persona and sense of style.  In truth, her first two albums received a pretty easy ride from the music press – so enamoured were we with Zooey’s beauty and kooky charm, we tended to overlook the fact that she possessed a decidedly ordinary voice and the songs on those earlier albums were pleasant but slight and derivative. Volume III is more of the same but probably the pick of the bunch to date – the songs are stronger, Deschanel has improved vocally to a noticeable degree and there is a greater air of confidence in how these songs are...

Suede – Bloodsports...

When Suede exploded on to the music scene with their debut album in 1993, they injected a much needed shot of glamour into the staid and grey world of British indie pop. The glam rock stomp and tales of suburban alienation and sexual deviancy of early singles ‘The Drowners’ and ‘Animal Nitrate’ catapulted them on to the front page of every music weekly in the land and very quickly, they became the most talked about band in Britain. With androgynous lead singer Brett Anderson providing a ready supply of controversial quotes, Suede became the first British band since the Smiths to inspire rabid devotion from fans and near hatred from non-believers. Their debut album went gold in Britain on its second day of release but it wasn’t long before tensions within the band led to the departure of guitar wunderkind Bernard Butler. Replacement guitarist Richard Oakes did a reasonable job of imitating the trademark Butler guitar sound and the band continued to enjoy reasonable success before calling it a day in 2003. And now they are back with Bloodsports, their sixth album and unquestionably their best since Coming Up in 1996. Bloodsports sounds like some long lost recording that should have surfaced between their debut and their critically acclaimed third album Dog Man Star, a cryogenically frozen Suede reanimated and reinvigorated with the cocky self-assurance of old. The swagger is back – guitar heavy tracks like ‘Snowblind’ and ‘It Starts and Ends with You’ are fantastic pop songs that rank up there with the best of some Suede’s early work. The grandiose ‘What Are You Not Telling Me?’ is Suede at their most epic and dramatic while ‘Faultlines’ works on a similarly grand scale. If you were a fan of Suede the first time...