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Archive for the ‘Dublin’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DAVID O’DOHERTY-“Florence Falls” (2012).

Back in 2012, Cathy Davey said she’d “been trying to figure out how to raise awareness for homeless dogs without it becoming a negative campaign.”  She says she “wondered how many songwriters would be interested in writing songs about dogs they have loved. It turns out nearly everyone I approached had a story to tell…”

So Davey and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy curated this album.  Proceeds from the album go to the Dublin-based Dogs In Distress.

The album features new recordings from fourteen artists, including Lisa Hannigan.  When the album came out Hannigan tweeted: “A dog is for life, this album is for Christmas” playing on the Humane Society’s “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” which is designed to discourage giving pets as holiday gifts if they can’t be cared for.  Sharon Shannon and David Gray both contribute instrumentals).  And of course, The Divine Comedy.

I was planning  to write about The Divine Comedy song, but my favorite track turned out to be this one from David O’Doherty, an Irish comedian.  I don’t know anything about O’Doherty, but the delivery of this bittersweet song was top notch.

Musically, the song is simple, just a keyboard playing a nice melody.  The story starts somewhat sweetly as Florence’s owner returns home.

As my key went in the door I’d call your name, you’d start to growl
And move menacingly across the floor
And as you’d thundered down the stairs
Snarling angrily
I’d wonder why I liked you so much
And you always hated me

The details of how bad Florence was are really hilarious.

In the winter you’d curl up by the fire at home
I’d go off to get your chew-chew
And then you’d eat my mobile phone

Then we realize just how bad Florence was

The first time that you nipped me people said you were just young
And the second time it was the heat
And the third you were only having fun (ha ha ha ha ha)
And the fourth time I actually needed Tetanus and you got neutered at the vet
She said that it would calm you down
And then you bit me on the leg

And since Christmas is coming, there’s a Christmas verse too:

I remember one time at Christmas
When you opened all the stuff
I put you out into the garden
And you were furious
You cried so much at this great injustice
I had to let you back in
And then you were good for an hour


Then you licked the turkey

Florence was truly a terrible dog.  A terrible pet.  And yet the ending reveals the truth:

Oh, Florence, there was nothing good about you I can’t think of anything
But I wish that you were still at home … hating me again.
You were a rubbish dog
But a rubbish dog is better than no dog

And even though this song is sweet and might make you a little teary-eyed, the phrase “rubbish dog” will always make me laugh.

[READ: November 30, 2019] “The Curfew”

I have loved Roddy Doyle’s stories for years.  His early stuff was very funny, but it has been a pretty long time since he has written anything genuinely funny.  But no matter, because what he writes is always good and very real.

The curfew in this story is in place because ex-Hurricane Ophelia is heading towards Dublin.

The protagonist is heading home, with a half hour to spare before the curfew.  His wife is dismissive of the curfew–“Do they think it’s a civil war?  It’s only a bit of weather,” but he likes the drama of it.  He felt like he was helping to stave of a catastrophe–it was doing him good.  It almost kept his mind off the medical news.

A couple of wees ago he’d had a checkup.  All he could remember was the prostate exam.  He smiled to himself thinking he could now address his daughter’s lectures about gender: “I know what you’re talking about, he’d be tempted to say.  A woman doctor had her finger up my arse and she was thoroughly professional.” (more…)

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chancers SOUNDTRACK: BUILT TO SPILL-You in Reverse (2006).

reverseI love the audacity of coming back from a five-year hiatus and opening your disc with an 8 minute song that has lots and lots of instrumentals and solo sections.  And man is “Goin’ Against Your Mind” a good song (the band opened with this when I saw them and it awesome).  At around 5 minutes the songs slows down for a quieter section and then it builds back up again. I particularly love the roaring guitars in the back of the song (which I think are from Brett Netson—it is confusing that the band has a Brett Nelson and a Brett Netson in its line up).

“Traces” slows things down.  It has a simple but really catchy riff.  “Liar” is a bouncy, rather fun song with some pretty guitar work (two guitars in the middle) and a super catchy vocal melody. “Saturday” is a slowish ballad that is only 2:24.

“Wherever You Go” has a kid of Neil Young stomp to it, but it’s “Conventional Wisdom” that really opens up the beginning of the second half with a great riff and a fun chorus. The dual guitar solo that starts around 3 minutes in is fantastic.

I also love the guitar riffs in “Gone” and how at 3 minutes it turns into something else entirely with a big organ sound.  “Mess with Time,” which they played live, has a great staccato riff and a really interesting (to my ear Middle Easternish) guitar riff.   I also like the way it sounds like perhaps a circular saw blade is being used as percussion.  And how at 3:15 it turns into an entirely new song—an almost ska song riff with great bass lines.  “Just a Habit” is a mellow song with soaring electric guitar lines.   The disc ends with “The Wait,” a slower song that I don’t usually love.  But they played it live and in the live setting it took on a new vitality was really enjoyable.

This is an album I can put on an enjoy from start to finish.

[READ: August 7, 2015] Chancers

Chancers is a short three-act play set in Dublin after the collapse of the Irish economy.

There are four characters: Aiden and Dee who own a small shoppe; Gertie, an older lady who comes in regularly and never has a nice word for anyone and JP, Aiden’s mate.

In the first scene, we see that Dee is getting dressed up for a job interview.  She doesn’t imagine she’ll get the job, but they desperately need the money.  Aiden reveals that they have stopped offering certain services because they weren’t profitable enough.  When Gertie comes in, she mocks the two of them for trying, and for overreaching.  Gertie is nasty, undermining everything that Dee or Aiden says.

In the second scene, JP and Aiden are talking about a lottery ticket.  It seems that Gertie has bought a ticket that has won a huge windfall.  But when she brought the ticket in for him to check, Aiden instinctively told her it was a loser.  JP says that the first step has been taken now all they need to do is get that ticket for themselves so they can cash it in. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_04_14_14Blitt.inddSOUNDTRACK: SIMONE DINNERSTEIN-Tiny Desk Concert #362 (June 2, 2014).

simoneSimone Dinnerstein plays several of Bach’s two-part inventions.  And my jaw hits the floor.

I like Bach–I like his elaborate arrangements and the way he makes the piano (or harpsichord) sing.  But I never really thought about how hard these pieces are.  Watching Dinnerstein play these–simply watching the amazingness of her fingers–has blown me way.  And if I may say, her fingers aren’t long slender graceful things, they look a lot like mine.  So she doesn’t seem to have that advantage of an octave and a half reach or anything.  I am amazed that her two hands can work so independently.  And it sounds beautiful.

She groups them together into three segments and between each segment she talks a little about Bach and about playing these difficult pieces.  Her story about learning these as a child and then teaching them to children is really fascinating (and funny).

I have no idea how many Inventions Back wrote, but this set list is: Inventions Nos. 1, 6, 8, then Inventions Nos. 9, 10, and finally Inventions Nos. 12, 13, 14.

Check this out.

[READ: June 3, 2104] “Box Sets”

How can Roddy Doyle, who does funny so well, also do domestic unhappiness with such verisimilitude?

In this brief story, just as Ireland is getting through the worst of the economic depression and Sam and his wife Emer are feeling like they can exhale, Sam is let go from his job.  Now he’s been on the dole for three months.  And he is miserable.  The only good thing is that he has been watching box set seasons of all of the really good TV that everyone’s been talking about.  He feels foolish watching it all after the fuss about them has ended, but he’s still glad to watch it.  And Emer is great through the whole thing, always cheerful, always trying to make him feel better.  Always with a smile.  But Sam is getting darker and darker.

Then one night when Emer says they’re going to a friend’s house on Friday, Sam says he’d rather not.  He reminds her that at their last get together he was stumped when someone asked him what he did.  He just doesn’t want to go out anymore.  Emer tries to comfort him but fails.  He just gets madder until he throws a coffee mug and it shatters.  He takes the dog for a walk down to the seaside to cool off. (more…)

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wilderSOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live from Mountain Stage (May 16, 2012).

whitehorseWhitehorse is opening for Barenaked Ladies on the current leg of their tour (we’re going to see them in October).  I hadn’t heard of them.  Turns out Whitehorse is the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.  They are from Canada, which may be why they are touring with BNL–because they’re not very funny or very upbeat.

They play four songs in this Mountain Stage show.  I really like “Killing Time” which has a very alt-country feel—McClelland’s harmony vocals are great on the chorus, which has a very low down dirty feel.  I particularly like the lines:

Pimms in the cooler and daughter in the yard Playing California strip croquet

And

Tongue is a sharpened razor Little miss know it some But get her alone she cries I wanna go home Oh, this little piggy plays dumb.

They have some good stories too, like the one about “Emerald Isle” which is about Luke running a marathon in Ireland.  His Irish mother, who had never been to Ireland, flew out to meet him at the finish line and his wife, Melissa, flew in from Australia as well.  There are more great harmonies in this song which, while mournful has a wonderfully uplifting feel.  “Night Owls” is a very slow ballad which, while lyrically interesting, is a little too slow for my tastes.

For the final song, Melissa explains that the two of them had been playing solo and then they got married and still played solo.  And then they decided to join forces. “Broken One” was a song that Luke wrote for his ex-girlfriend (and it is mean); Melissa says that she fixed it for Whitehorse.  It’s a pretty standard country song with a honky tonk feel.  It has a great blow off line: “You gotta have a heart to have a broken one.”

There’s something about Canadian Country music that I like so much more than American country music.  I wonder what that is.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Wilderness

I recently stumbled upon this book at the library.  I was only vaguely aware that Doyle had written a children’s novel, but there it was on the shelf.  This is not a young child’s book, which is kind of a shame.  I know my son would love half of the book, but I didn’t think he was ready for the other half.

The two parts of the story are about different members of the same family.  The father, Frank, is the same.  He married a woman quite young and they had a daughter.  When the daughter was about 4 years old, the father and mother realized they could no longer live together.  After some fights, the mother left for America.  Where she stayed.  Gráinne, the daughter, is now 18 and she is a sullen, angry teenager.  Her dad is still okay, but most of the time she wants to treat him like he’s not.  But he seems okay with that and gives her space.  The crux of her story is that her mother has decided to come back after all these years.  And Gráinne now has to deal with that.

Her story is a little mature, (especially for my 8 year old son), and she has some pretty harsh things to say about her parents, (which I hope he doesn’t have yet).

The other half of the story concerns her half brothers, and I know my son would love this part.  Conveniently, the two stories are easy to demarcate–the ones with the boys are named Chapter 1 etc, the one with Gráinne are named things like The Bedroom, The Bus etc.  So I did consider telling him to read just those parts.  But maybe I’ll just wait.  Anyway, her half brothers, Johnny and Tom, belong to her dad and her stepmom, Sandra.  Sandra loves her boys and her husband and even Gráinne–most of the time.  But lately Gráinne has been a little much.  And Frank has encouraged Sandra to take the boys and go on a trip, just with them.  That will let her focus on the boys and give him some time with Gráinne. (more…)

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xmasSOUNDTRACK: BARENAKED LADIES-Live from Mountain Stage (Jan 19, 1995).

barenakedladiesThis is wonderful show from 1995 (it was recorded on Super Bowl Sunday, which explains the football jokes…including the Baltimore football team that played in the CFL for literally one year). Having seen BNL recently (and enjoyed them), I forgot how much more bouncey and fun their earlier shows were (as their earlier songs were in general more bouncey and fun).  This show is also interesting because Andy Creeggan is still in the band.  Andy is Tim (bass) Creeggan’s brother.  And I have to wonder if he is doing some of the great harmonies (especially on “Alternative Girlfriend,” which I’ve never heard anywhere else).

I love each of the four songs they play here: “Life in a Nutshell,” “Jane” (a song where their harmonies are absolutely wonderful).  “Great Provider” slows things down but allows for Tim’s great bass work.  The set ends with one of my favorite songs “Alternative Girlfriend.”  They disingenuously announce that they will be playing the Mountain Stage theme song and I think everyone is a little bummed that they didn’t.  But I was just as happy to hear “Alternative Girlfriend and this is where those great unexpected harmonies come in.  They even throw in a smidgen of “My Sharona” for fun.

I’ll be seeing BNL again in a month.  After seeing them this summer, I wanted to tell them to dig deep into their catalog for some of their middle albums tracks (like the ones here).  Since most people who see them are die hards, we’d all love some of these older tracks!

Enjoy the set here.  Sadly, you only get to see Steven Page’s glorious mustache in this photo.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Not Just for Christmas

In addition to writing a lot of novels, Roddy Doyle has written a number of smaller books.  Like this one.  This was actually written for The Open Door series which is a series of six books by different authors that are designed to help adult readers who have trouble reading.  The stories are meant to be short, engaging and relatively easy to read.

I wasn’t conscious of this story being easy to read, but it is certainly simple.  It is 77 pages with big print and probably counts more like a short story, although I think it gets classified as a novella.

Simplicity aside, the story is a very good one.  Danny and Jimmy Murphy are brothers.  But they haven’t seen each other in twenty years.    When they were younger, they were inseparable and, although they were a year apart, people assumed they were twins.  We see a few instances from their childhood where they finished each others’ sentences and had a kind of psychic connection. (more…)

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vanSOUNDTRACK: FRANK TURNER-Tiny Desk Concert #287 (July 13, 2013).

turnertinydeskNPR introduced me to Frank Turner and I’m pretty delighted that they did.  I really enjoyed his set at the Newport Folk Festival.  And here’s another live recording (a Tiny Desk Concert).

In this brief set, Frank and mandolin player Matt Nasir (he’s only been playing it for 6 months) blast through 3 of his rockingest folk songs.  “Recovery,” “The Way I Tend to Be,” (with a very funny lead story) and a rousing mandolin solo-filled and a (reluctant) NPR audience singalong. of the great “Photosynthesis.”  I imagine it was quite loud in their offices that day.

Turner is fantastic live—he’s personable and funny and even more so in this intimate setting.  It’s a wonderful set.

Check it out.

[READ: August 23, 2013] The Van

This is the final book in the “Barrytown Trilogy” (except for the new one coming out next year).  Whereas The Snapper was tied to The Commitments by virtue of it being the same family, The Van is tied to The Snapper because it follows the same guy—Jimmy Rabbitte Sr.

It’s 1990 (a few years after The Snapper because the baby from that book is now talking and mobile) and like many older people in Ireland, Jimmy Sr. has been laid off.  The first third of the book looks at life on the dole in Ireland—skimpy Christmas presents and getting handouts from your son.  And yet there’s always money for a pint or two—so Jimmy still gets to hang out with his mates at the pub a few nights a week.  He also goes out with the baby from time to time and occupies himself in various ways (pitch n putt).  There’s a lot of humor and silliness in this section–especially within the family when the twin girls start getting older and even cheekier.  And the focal point is the World Cup—because Ireland is actually going to be in it this year—Italia ’90!

And the Jimmy’s mate Bimbo gets laid off.  And that’s where the titular van comes in (over 100 pages into the story).  Bimbo is crushed to be laid off, but Jimmy is a little pleased.  He’s not happy that Bimbo is laid off, but he is happy that he has someone to waste the day with.  They go golfing together (and win a prize or two) and they do their best trying to stay happy.  But they’ve noticed that the fish and chips van that used to be parked outside of the bar is no longer there.  It’s a sad state of affairs when you’re drunk and hungry at midnight and can’t get a fish n chips.

And that’s when their friend Bertie (who can get anything for anyone) comes through on Bimbo’s half serious question–could Bertie get him a chipper van?  Bertie finds one—an unholy filthy mess of a thing with no engine.  And Bimbo uses his redundancy money, £800, to buy the mess.  Jimmy is appalled until Bimbo starts talking about the two of them being partners—working together to makes some money and sell chips to their drunken mates and—even better—to the punters who are enjoying the World Cup!  And suddenly it seems like a real idea. (more…)

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snapperSOUNDTRACK: KISHI BASHI-“Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!” (2013).

kishiI’m still really enjoying Kishi Bashi’s debut album 151a, so it’s a treat to get a new track from him.  This one is a 7″ (and apparent digital download).

It doesn’t depart radically from Kishi Bashi’s formula (high vocals, violins and bouncy, exuberant melodies).  Although this song just has…more.  More instruments, more layers, more everything.

The biggest surprise comes around two minutes in when some of the layers drop out and we get this really cool bass (which reminds me of Paul Simon) that propels the song along.  But that’s a fleeting moment amidst the swirling and swelling violins.

Kishi Bashi is one of those artists who seems to release a lot of singles and digital releases and unless they get compiled somewhere, NPR podcasts are the only place I’ll ever hear them.  Nonetheless, I’m delighted to get to jam to this one.

[READ: August 19, 2013] The Snapper

When I first got into Roddy Doyle (around 1993), I read all three of the books that are considered the “Barrytown Trilogy” (which I have just learned, thanks Louise, that there’s going to be a fourth) very quickly.  Doyle’s writing in these books is very fast and very funny–tons of dialogue that flow easily and wittily.

The Snapper was also made into a film (not as popular as The Commitments, but much funnier–check it out just to see Colm Meaney down a pint).  And Doyle’s writing is just as sharp and screenplay-friendly as The Commitments was–which makes it a real joy to read.

Although this is considered part of a “trilogy” there’s very little connection to The Commitments.  The family is the same but Jimmy Rabbitte, the protagonist of The Commitments, is a minor character in The Snapper (I’m actually not sure if it is set before or after The Commitments).  [Oh and in the movie, the family name had to be changed from Rabbitte to Curley because the company that made The Commitments owns the rights to Rabbitte (Jaysus!)].  This book is about Jimmy’s sister Sharon and, for the most part, their da, Jimmy Sr.  [There’s a slew more members of that family–Veronica their mammy, Darren, the twins Tracy and Linda, Les, and of course, Larrygogan, the new pup.

So, what the hell is The Snapper about?  Well, “Snapper” is a slang for baby (apparently).  And it seems that young Sharon (19) has gotten herself “up the pole” (pregnant).  The surprising thing about the story is the family’s reaction.  It is largely positive.  She won’t say who the father is, and after the family accepts that, things seem largely fine.

Sharon is afraid to tell her friends, but even they, including her best friend Jackie, take it well (especially after a few drinks).  So where is the conflict? (more…)

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