April 29, 2009
The new Little Boots video is finally on the internet, free and happily roaming like some kind of young animal. Earlier on today though, it was not. That being the case, I constructed a blow by blow re-enactment (not in the Tom McCarthy way, more in an E True Hollywood Story way.)
This is basically what happens. In pictures. If you’d like to recreate the sense of watching a music video, you could maybe wiggle your computer screen a bit. Or blink quickly.
There are also some more cars, but we’ve looked at a picture of a car already. The real video is here, if you need to see it. I think the above is quite enough though.
April 26, 2009
I’ve literally spent 3 hours looking, Old Mother Hubbard-style, in the cupboard. My options for dinner include spaghetti hoops, toast and/or a combination of the above two. I mega-heart Spag Hoops, but it’s no Saba on Clarendon St. Which is where we all ate to our hearts’ content yesterday. Tom Yum Gai. It doesn’t have a ‘yum’ in the name for nothing.
Pretty much the only thing making this Sunday worthwhile is the fact that yesterday I also watched 17 Again, aka the best film ever made. I could watch it every day for the rest of my life. No lie. I got really excited when I saw that it was already up on youtube. I was super wrong.
Back to considering dinner so.
April 21, 2009
Anyone else feel a bit overwhelmed?* Me too. Katie-Lilga three. Hate April. HATE it. With the force of my Granny’s love for the Pope. (Srsly, Gran got a letter from the Pope the other day). So, what could make April better?
1. Snacks. For defs. Banana on crackers p’raps?
2. Bangin’ choons like the new Patrick Wolf.
3. New internet people in the vein of the now long-lost
Eoin NEIL Changes His Look.
4. And this song. Always this song.
*BTW, for the etymology of ‘whelmed’ check out Bianca’s thesis in TTIHAY
April 17, 2009
Hello. Welcome to a new section on Bluebirds Are So Natural, called ‘Can’t Speak French’. In this section, we’ll be using the wonders of modern technology to determine whether or not any of the artists in the current Top 30 can, ‘speak French’ as it were. Basically, what this means is that we’ll pop some lyrics from a song in English (Middle 8 and Chorus) into Babelfish, translate them into French, and then back again, for megalaffs.
This week, it’s the turn of Girls Aloud’s ‘Untouchable’.
‘Whenever you’re gone, gone
They wait at the door
And everything’s hurting like a bore
Without any meaning
We’re just skin and bone
Like beautiful robots dancing alone
And in my dreams it feels like we are forty storeys tall
When you’re around ooooh we’re untouchable
And in my dreams it feels like we aren’t ever gonna fall
We’re safe and sound and we’re untouchable’
Toutes les fois que you’ ; allé re, allé
Ils attendent à la porte
Et everything’ ; s blessant comme un alésage sans toute signification
We’ ; juste peau et os re
Comme de beaux robots seul dansant
Et dans mes rêves il se sent comme nous sommes quarante étages grands
quand you’ ; Re autour de l’ooooh we’ ; untouchable re
Et dans mes rêves il se sent comme nous aren’ ; t allant jamais tomber
We’ ; sûr et sain re et we’ ; untouchable’ re ;
‘All times that you’ ; gone Re, gone They wait the door
And everything’ ; S wounding like a boring without any We’ significance; ;
right skin and bone Re Like beautiful robots only dancing
And in my dreams it feels as we are forty large stages
when you’ ; Re around l’ ooooh we’ ; untouchable Re
And in my dreams it feels like us aren’ ; T never going to fall
We’ ; sure and healthy Re and we’ ; untouchable’ Re;’
VERDICT: That held up pretty well, all things considering. So, yes, Girls Aloud can speak French.
April 14, 2009
1. OMG Harlequin in Castle Market have a half price sale on. Leather jackets for ten earth euros? Dresses for fifteen? Run along stat.
2. Benefit founders Jean and Jane Ford are making a PA at Brown Thomas this Friday. For 40e they’ll do your make-up for you. Plus the money’s redeemable against any Benefit product. Book a place by ringing 01 617 1139.
3. Gosh. We never promote things that actually cost money. Well, seldomly. The above two were exceptions to the rule. Luckily, on Friday the 1st of May, we’ll be hosting the second ever Songs for Swinging Children in Spy. It runs from 7pm-11pm, 2-4-1 (lol) cocktails and all other lovely things. Facebook event here.
April 10, 2009
While clearing up my hard-drive this morning (snore), I found the below article on Tribute Bands I wrote for the September issue of now online-only Analogue Magazine. While it’s in print somewhere, it’s not on the internet. And, obviously, the internet is the only place that counts. Read on, dear readers. (BTW, does anyone remember when Katie and I used to write actual blog posts? Nah. Me neither.)
I’m sitting on a couch in a stranger’s living room. His son comes in and gives me a cup of tea, and a Kit-Kat. I’m flanked on each side by two members of the Folsom Five, a Dublin-based Johnny Cash tribute band. They’re dressed in turned up jeans and their hair is carefully quiffed. They also have cups of tea and Kit-Kats. I was meant to be sitting in on a band practice, only Chico- the main man- hasn’t shown up. I’m severely disappointed. By the sounds of it, Chico is fantastic. Originally Chico was in a Bob Marley tribute band, and then decided to ‘branch out’. Apparently, he’s from ‘the North Side of Dublin, and isn’t as tall as Johnny Cash, but as soon as he’s onstage he puts on the accent and keeps it up afterwards. When we’re onstage, it’s like we’re straight out of Memphis.’ Sans Chico, the other members make up another band- the rockabilly outfit Aces Wild. When the film ‘Walk the Line’ came out, the enterprising Chico suggested forming a Johnny Cash tribute band, and the Folsom Five was born. The ’Five perform songs from all eras of Cash’s career- focusing mainly on the San Quentin and Folsom Prison Sets- with a twenty minute interval, during which they play well known rock and roll songs as Aces Wild. Presumably Chico has a cigarette break at this point. The band has yet to have a negative response to any of their gigs- provided they stick to better-known songs. ‘We spent ages practicing Cash’s version of ‘Hurt’ and then played it at a gig. Dead, it was. You could hear tumbleweed blow across the room. We had to cut ‘Hurt’ in the middle just to keep the tempo going. There’s a band in Scotland and they do anything in the Johnny Cash voice. Union Avenue they’re called. They do ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ or ‘Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me’. Ireland’s not ready for that. Ireland’s very closed-minded.’
Ireland may not yet be ready for such crossover hits as the above, but it’s very accepting of tribute bands, indeed, as are most countries. With ticket prices ever-rising, and tours skipping over cities, countries and continents, a tribute band offers the chance to hear the music of a loved band, in a live setting. Tribute bands first came to prominence in Australia- due to hefty waits between live appearances by the real deal; groups such as the Australian Pink Floyd filled the gap in a prog-rock-hungry market. The first tribute bands are generally acknowledged to be the Rolling Clones (formed in 1979) and the Bootleg Beatles (1980). However, tribute bands are coming to the fore in their own right. This summer, the Tribute to Music Festival was held Verbania Football Stadium, Italy. The festival was a week-long celebration of tribute acts, including appearances from Oasish, Rollin’ Clones and One Night of Queen. Glastonbudget, held on Turnpost Farm, Leicestershire, is the UK equivalent of the Tribute to Music Festival. The combined pun factor inherent in both festivals would support a Christmas cracker joke-writer in mince pies for 100 years. Notable samples include- Fake That, Stereotonics, Razorlike and Pink Fraud. The overt punning can sometimes lead people astray though. Earlier this year, Lez Zeppelin (an all-girl Led Zeppelin tribute band) caused the music press to frantically backpedal. Lez Zep were slated to play at Bonnaroo Festival, only, several music sites-including Associated Newspapers, Telegraph.co.uk and NME.com- in their excitement, failed to read the small print, and presumed it was Plant and Co. What a difference a letter makes…
Not that it matters, of course, that Lez Zeppelin are all female. The important thing in the world of tribute bands, it turns out, is the sound. Kevin Doogan, of Metallica tribute band Frantica, explains- ‘I saw a really good Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band a few years ago, and they looked nothing like them. If you closed your eyes it was like you were at the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s the person’s preference.’ The toss up continually arises between looking like the band, and sounding like the band. It seems though, that it’s an easy choice. Though most groups consider their appearance to a certain degree, a tribute band’s ultimate goal is to recreate faithfully the live experience of the band in question. This often involves more work that one’d think. For example, there are little differences between the studio album and the live album. A studio version of song X fades out in the end, but when playing live, fading out isn’t an option. Therefore, one has to find out what happens when it is played live. It’d be easy to dismiss members of tribute bands as fanboy/girls, and brush off their obsession with capturing exactly every precious note, but to do so would belittle the amount of professionalism and perfectionism that they show. With Frantica, ‘we want to get it note for note right, for our own enjoyment, and for the show. People notice the difference live. I don’t want to have a laugh; I want to get it perfect. We spend ages trying to learn all the small bits, the little harmonies, the bits that you could leave out, but you should leave in because the song wouldn’t be the same without it.’
Bearing this in mind, perhaps the most difficult aspect of playing in a tribute band is trying to re-create, live, the stage presence of the band emulated. Especially when it’s a band as big as U2. Rattle and Hum was the first U2 tribute band in Ireland. Half of them taught in my secondary school. Rattle and Hum that is. Not U2. My entire secondary-school experience is rooted in watching the Business teacher and the English teacher pretend to be Bono and Larry Mullins, respectively, in various venues around Dublin. Except they weren’t pretending, they were being. It’s hard to explain. When they were onstage, we were no longer watching our teachers play music at the weekend, we were watching U2. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief inherent in watching a tribute band play, but, really, atmosphere is key. It doesn’t matter how much they look, or sound like the genuine article. If it doesn’t feel the same, it’s always going to be ersatz. How then, do Rattle and Hum recreate the experience of a live U2 show? Michael ‘Bono’ Malone answers: ‘The stage presence is always a challenge because your average pub/club/venue is never going to offer the magic that is an arena like Wembley/Croke Park etc. What we try to put across is a scaled down U2 gig a bit like those MTV unplugged sessions (that were not unplugged) that were all the rage about 15 years ago.’ Uisneagh ‘Larry’ Treacy adjoins- ‘Obviously we don’t have a big stage like they have. We’re limited like that. You try to bring across an energy that the audience can react with. The best gigs are where the audience engages with the band. You try to emulate them [U2]. Your audience dictates what your set list is going to be. We never do exactly the same set. We get a feel for the kind of gig and the audience. You tailor your set to whatever the audience is going to be like. You try and get a mixture of everything. Even if we don’t like it we have to play it. You’d be expected to play them. It’s not necessarily an artistic thing, in order for you to survive as a tribute band you have to sell yourself.’
Aye, there lies the rub. The audience always wins. Like every other band, tribute bands get fed up with their material too. This is- as much as anything else- one of the reasons that tribute bands are so keen to pick up on new material as soon as possible. Frantica have ‘already got the bones of a few songs from the new album (‘Death Magnetic’). Because we’re restricted to stuff that’s already been written, when new stuff comes out it gives us a challenge. I enjoy learning new songs. I reckon people will definitely expect it. If you do play it, it’s going to be a bonus.’ Equally, Rattle and Hum are ‘looking forward to U2’s next album in the spring.’ Though in the case of the Folsom Five there’s no case of any new material surfacing, they content themselves by playing original material in the Aces Wild set in their shows. Are all members of tribute bands failed musicians then, yearning to play their own music, but with the time or the talent? While every band-member that I’ve interviewed had, at some stage, been in an originals band, to make such a claim would be false and unkind. Without sounding cloying or disingenuous, what shines through, above all else, is a genuine love of music. It’s more than a hobby, it’s a lifeline. Despite long hours, ungracious audiences and poor pay, none of them see their bands packing up any time soon. Music is a constant thread in their lives. Be it that of U2-‘we’re all very proud of what we’ve achieved in the band- we never set out to last that long. Rattle and Hum has been a constant thing in all our lives. Every day we just think about the next gig.’ Or Johnny Cash- ‘If we got bored doing it we’d knock it on the head. Even if we weren’t in the band we’d jam anyway. We’re always thinking about it. We’d ring each other about three times a week, before and after the practice, with new ideas or things to change’. Or Metallica- ‘I’ll always be playing music, definitely. I stopped for a while and I had to go back playing. I stopped, but my guitar was always there. I will always play.’
April 7, 2009
Gosh, it’s going to be lovely.
Edit: Photos will be up by tomorrow. It’s only taken 4 days. Lucky sods eh?
April 4, 2009
A glorified events guide we may very well be of late, but look here, we’ve just branched out into the very specific genre of ‘getting tagged and answering questions re: ourselves’. Woah. Behold…
What’s the last thing you read or are currently reading?
A. Watt; Samuel Beckett
K. Bodies by Susie Orbach
Do you nap a lot?
Who was the last person you hugged?
A. Katie, last night on Grafton St.
K. Ailbhe, last night on Grafton St.
What’s your current obsession/addiction?
A. Tuna sandwiches. No, really, every day for the past month. I had a panic attack the other day when I didn’t know what I wanted to eat for lunch. Then I stopped being silly and had a tuna sandwich. I hope I don’t get mercury poisoning.
K. David Hockney and raw carrots.
What are you wearing right now?
A. A really old Sufjan Stevens t-shirt and jeans.
What was for dinner?
A. Cheese on toast. It was amazing.
K. Cheese on toast. It too was amazing.
What have you been listening to lately?
A. Swan Lake, Camera Obscura, Beyoncé’s ‘B-day’.
K. Our Song by Taylor Swift (on repeat, it’s awful, seriously) and Jape.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
A. I’d like to have Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s zappy finger. I think that would cover most of my bases.
K. A bit of time travel wouldn’t go amiss.
What is your favorite weather, and why?
A. Cardigan weather. I don’t fare well in the heat.
K. Sunny days, Ireland style. Not too hot, not too cold.
What was the last thing you bought?
A. A bus ticket. How. Exciting.
Say something about the person who tagged you :
A. She’s lovely, but a little shy.
If you could have a house- totally paid for, fully furnished- anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be?
A. Berlin. Yum.
K. Can I have three little ones? Thanks. Dublin, Paris and Sydney please.
Favorite vacation spot?
A. The seaside plz.
Favorite pair of shoes you keep going back to over and over, even though your closet is overflowing with a zillion others?
A. Brown penny loafers. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with the summer.
K. Not possible. All of my shoes fall apart. All of them.
Name one thing you cannot live without.
A. Late-night radio.
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
A. After finals. That would be great thanks.
K. Sydney, thereby solving my problem of deciding when to go and booking flights. Deadly.
April 4, 2009
At this stage, we’re really just a glorified events guide*, but normal service will resume when FUN THINGS STOP HAPPENING RIGHT AFTER EACH OTHER. So, tonight, we present: Under the Neon.
You’re Only Massive launch their brand new single at The Hideaway House (probably the coolest venue in Dublin) tonight at 6pm. Entry is 5e and will also get you a lovely 7”. Smashing. Y.O.M. will play a set (obv) and so will Babybeef. If that’s not enough, I’ll be running ‘Under the Neon Red Carpet’, which is the reason why my garage is currently full of fairy lights and a massive red carpet. Oh yes. See you there k?
*If this is annoying you, you could go read my boyfriend’s blog. Though it offers less events, it’s stupid funny.