Friday, February 29, 2008

Can we have a krautrock special?

Can enjoy a toot

The only thing that bugs me about Tim Sweeney's wonderful Beats in Space series of mixes is the interviews. If you download a mix by a certain DJ in a flurry of excitement, and as you eagerly depress the arrow button, the initial reaction is invariably frustration as you get lumbered with a ten minute interview after the first track. Still, it's a small quibble, as pound for pound the mixes usually always deliver.

One I'm digging at the moment is a Krautrock special with Mike Simonetti, downloadable from here or streamable from here It opens with a live edit of Can's mighty "Vitamin C" before a tedious interview. Then it's down to business with two scary German funk tracks from Supermax. No, not the burger chain, but they do have an affinity for food as "Push Push (Sexy Chocolate Girl)" testifies. I'd heard this track years ago and thought it was a piss take, but no it's a real-life chunk of krautrock funk about making sweet love to a lady made from chocolate. Supermax then show Thom Yorke a thing or two about breathing during a song with "Be What You Are". La Dusseldorf's "White Overalls" reminds me of films set in the snow, like the awesome Gorky Park. Things get classical for a while before the spacey side of Krautrock comes back in with the lovely, velvety speaker swapping drums of Niagra. I love that spacey production technique they used to use on krautrock albums, it's like the music is breathing, running away from you, and then back around you and with you and off again. I can't get on a DART anymore without thinking of Can's "Safe" because of it. The best, funkiest drummers were krautrock guys. Wait til you hear those drums from about 44 minutes on. Anyway, Niagra also remind me of the mighty Hawkwind without the barmy poetry. There then follows some Neu!, Amon Duul II and some Tyndall (backed by Can) as well as some uncredited stuff, before Tim Sweeney takes over for the second half of this show with a bonkers disco mix which features remixes of Rufus and Chaka Khan, the Pointer Sisters and Hot Chip (no, really).

I was a relative latecomer to Krautrock. I always thought that my Can and Kraftwerk LP's would be enough, but the world out there beyond them is a mighty place of frustrating but often very rewarding intrigue and Mike's mix is as good a place as any to start...

De La Soul

Someone mentioned De La Soul to me today which got me thinking: What was their greatest album? And it is this one. Enjoy.

Ryan Adams in Paris

Big O has put a cracking Ryan Adams bootleg back up for a week. It features his spinetingling cover of Alice in Chains "Down in a Hole" and much more besides. It's not the best Ryan Adams gig (he's a little bored with it all) but it's worth a listen.

Get it right here.

Shock! Horror! Men of a certain vintage make atrocious list

The Irish Times brigade of rock critics have made another terrible list! Yes, you'd think they would have learned by now wouldn't you, but the critics who have been responsible for some of the best broadsheet music writing just cannot seem to get it right when it comes to lists.

Their Top 40 Irish Albums here is a largely predictable and safe mix of dated 80's and early 90's Irish rock which obviously had a profound effect on some of the writers at the time the records were released, but it's stupifying to think that much of it is remembered yet alone deemed memorable today. Perhaps having so much time on their hands 'back in the day' when they were hungry, leather-jacket and paisley-shirted clad hacks might have something to do with it? The fast-paced life of a multimedia rock critic these days obviously leaves these redoubtable men with very little time on their hands to get close to, or live with an album they way they could back in the good old days when there was only a handful of releases coming through the letterbox, and a full-scale arts section like The Ticket was something you couldn't even dare to dream about when you were clattering away at a typewriter or a word processor!

But whatever the reason for the slant towards boring, dated albums, the fact that such unspeakable shite such as The Blades, Something Happens, High Llamas, Stars of Heaven, and the most overdubbed live album of all time from Thin Lizzy is in there, as well as far too many albums from single acts (has anyone under the age of 40 even heard at least one Microdisney album, let along two? Has anyone outside Dublin actually sat through two Blades albums? Has Van Morrison really released three decent albums? Do The Undertones deserve two berths?) and career worst albums from Snow Patrol and The Frames, as well as one of the weakest Divine Comedy discs (was it included as a classic 'I heard of them before they were massive' gambit?) are in there ahead of dozens of great albums made in the last 15 years (any number of acts from David Kitt to Kila, Redneck Manifesto to Jimmy Cake, Ann Scott to Mundy, Damien Dempsey to The Walls/The Stunning, The Immediate to Pugwash, Delorentos to Cathy Davey, Luka Bloom to Little Palace, Duke Special to Jape) says much for the vintage of these men and the wisdom in getting their heads together for a good old list.

I'm a relatively old fart too, but I wouldn't be shouting it from the rooftop by praising indescrimate shite such as Stars of Heaven and The Radiators. Even the Hothouse Flowers had more to offer than these atrocious acts. Still, at least they got their number one right and at least they remembered that some good albums have been produced in recent years by the likes of Therapy, Bell X1 and, er, that's it.

It's interesting to note too that there is literally nothing from the 60's and very little from the 70's, whilst the folk and trad worlds get a token mention with a live album from Hayes and Cahill that nobody has ever seen in a shop, and a token mention for Planxty. Should they not have at least invited Siobhan Long into their private members club? Or would she have remembered something from the last 12 years? The elctronica and dance fields are also ignored, save for David Holmes' dated but still slightly vibrant collection of stretched samples "Let's Get Killed".

There's a good oul arguement going on at On The Record about it now. It's highly recommended reading.

Anyway, lest we all fall asleep in memory of the good old days in search of the next U2, the list is:
2 U2: ACHTUNG BABY (1991)
11 ASH: 1977 (1996)
14 U2: THE JOSHUA TREE (1987)
22 U2: BOY (1980)
31a BELL X1: MUSIC IN MOUTH (2003)
38 DAMIEN RICE: O (2002)

Have a cigar Syd.

You too can get your mits on some rare Pink Floyd related stuff this week. I can't because of my current precarious financial position, but if I had some money then I'd be buying Syd Barrett's old speakers and a painting (left) for less than 10,000 euro at an upcoming auction.

I'd also be buying some rare Pink Floyd album art prints which are currently being flogged for a little under two grand. They feature some of the best-known Floyd cover art and are signed by ertwhile Floyd gentleman-about-the-race-track Nick Mason, as well as designers Storm Thorgerson and Peter Curzon.

Anyway, the speakers and the painting are probably the best investment, even if the rather drab painting doesn't exactly set the world of arts appreciation alight. It's a previously unseen Barrett effort which he gave to his brother as a present, and it goes under the hammer in old Syd's hometown of Cambridge on March 5th and 6th.

"Abstract: Chain link harrows" was painted during long before Syd made arguably the finest album of the 1960's, and long before he decided to paint himself into the corner of a room for the sake of his art. It was created during his first year at Camberwell Art School, and was given to his brother where it has stayed ever since. The auctioneers - Cheffins - estimate the 50cm x 74cm painting will sell for between ST£4,000-8,000. The sale will also include two other items from Syd’s brother, including a pair of HJ Leak & Co Sandwich speakers, which were used by Syd in his flat during the 1960's. Hilariously, the brochure states that "one bears a hole to the front which was allegedly caused by his ‘cigarette’. So, if you buy them, then there's no doubt you can sit around all night taking drugs and imagining what Syd was listening to at the, er, time he dropped his cigarette.

They still work, and they can be yours for between £200-400, which is about 600 euro.

There's also a signed Christmas card, which could be yours for less than 100 quid.

Have a proper look at them at here

The fine art prints, meanwhile, look right proper tasty and I'd love to have Battersea Power Station hanging in my front hall. Alas, there's probably no chance. There's no chance either, I suppose even a Tony Iommi or a Jimmy Page would be out of the question too.

Anyway, if you have an interest in ancient rock stars, their designers, and quality cover art at ridiculous prices then right here is the treasure trove to check out.

As well as the Floyd, they are currently offering some savage fine art prints from acts such as 10cc, Anthrax, Audioslave, BB King, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, The Catherine Wheel, Eric Clapton, The Cranberries, Donovan, Ian Dury, The Flirtations, The Fool, Gentlemen Without Weapons, Gordon Giltrap, Goldie, Jimi Hendrix, The Hollies, The Incredible String Band,Live Aid & Band Aid, Bob Geldof, Led Zeppelin, The Mars Volta, The Move, Muse, The Nice, Ocean Colour Scene, Dean Parrish Pentangle, Martha Reeves, The Scorpions, Sex Pistols, Thin Lizzy, UB40, The War of The Worlds, Paul Weller, and The Who. Looking through the catalogue and some of the, quite frankly, ridiculous prices I still can't believe that there are people out there who would actually pay for anything by The Cranberries...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Iggy and the Stooges + Lovebox at Kilmainham

Looks like POD have tweaked their Kilmainham shindig a bit after last year's tin-foil clad disaster, and as well as bringing it back to festival season to capitalise on available acts, they appear to be adding bands people actually want to see! Crikey! No John Cale then?

Anyway, Iggy and the Stooges is the first confirmed show of a season of gigs there. Having left their predictable set early at the Picnic last summer (I'd already seen it note-for-note at Glastonbury) it's safe to say that the only good thing about them is the bass player, Mike Muthafucking Watt. Go along and make sure to stand stage left to get a good view of him. He is the living embodiment of rock and roll, much more so than Iggy is these days. Here's Mike's tour diary which includes the Picnic show last September:

It's an outdoors gig so John Reynolds & Co will have to leave the blue and yellow tent that has served them so well over the past few years at home.

However, they may yet be an erection in the museum grounds as Lovebox is also being moved to Kilmainham this summer.

Here's what the Ticketmaster website has to say about the Iggy Plop gig, looks like there'll be a few support acts and, er, a dress code.

MON 16-JUN-08/GATES 6:30PM

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Last gasps for Midlands and Garden Party, MCD ready in the wings?

The candles of hope for both Midlands and Garden Party have yet to be fully extinguished. A last ditch effort to get keep Midlands afloat is currently underway but as Seamus Carroll reported, it’s more than likely a goner. After the fold (the dotted lines) you’ll the latest from the local rag on the matter.

The piece below details an interesting development with regard to Latitude. MCD and Belvedere are awaiting a UK decision on it, so hopefully it’ll go ahead. That decision, as has been mentioned elsewhere, rests on whether they can share acts or not.

Noting that Midlands has gone, a certain promoter with a tendency for dancing on the grav.. dancing at the crossroads has made Belvedere an offer they probably cannot afford to refuse, and in June, you can expect to see the magic of the Hi-Fi Festival recreated on the shores of Lough Ennell, as a big pill fest is on the cards!

Speaking of bangers, Garden Party (also under threat) is allegedly going ahead. Well, according to the owners of Ballinlough Castle it is.

Speaking exclusively to Hot Lunch, a member of the Nugent family (who own the joint) said she is “hopeful” that the event will take place. “The castle is booked for the weekend, and as far as we’re aware it is going ahead.” She said she is meeting someone from POD this week to discuss it, and she did drop the name Underworld into the conversation.


Here's what the local rag had to say about Midlands:

Midlands festival ‘unlikely’ to go ahead promoter admits

The Midlands Music Festival, which was held at Belvedere last year after transferring from the 2006 venue, Ballinlough, is “unlikely” to go ahead this year.
Promoter, John Reynolds, has admitted to the management of Belvedere House that because he has failed to secure top acts for 2008, it’s “unlikely” that Midlands will be held.
“It is disappointing that Midlands Music Festival looks as if it won't take place this year although I am still waiting on confirmation of that from promoters,” Belvedere general manager, Bartle D’Arcy, told the Westmeath Examiner this week.
He said, however, that he was still hopeful that a large music event may take place at Belvedere this year, as two other weekends have been provisionally booked by other promoters.
“Belvedere is still currently holding two other weekend dates for MCD, for which we are awaiting operational decisions in the U.K. in March and although we can't take anything for granted we will be doing our best to secure a music festival for Belvedere and Mullingar in 2008," Mr. D’Arcy said.
Along with the failure to secure a big name to headline Midlands 2008, the festival suffered another blow when it was announced that the world-famous Cambridge Folk Festival in the UK is now to take place on the August Bank Holiday weekend, instead of in July.
This meant that for Midlands, the possibility of acts “doubling up” by doing one day in Cambridge, and the other in Mullingar was not going to be possible. Called reversing, this is common practice among promoters to dovetail headline acts into large festivals in the UK and Ireland on the same weekend.
Last year a number of the top acts taking to the stage in Belvedere including Steve Earle, Ricky Skaggs and the Waterboys were also appearing in the Cambridge Folk Festival.
Midlands Music Festival in 2007 also suffered from lower than expected ticket sales and heavy rain on the first day of the event, that earned the festival the nickname “Mudlands”.
“This festival was greatly enjoyed by those who attended it. It had built a reputation of being something different and as being uniquely family friendly,” said Mr. D’Arcy.
“It will be especially missed from a local point of view as a large portion of the attendance came from midlands region.”


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prince for Croke Park

Pocket-sized sports fan Prince will be playing a big outdoor show at Croke Park on June 15th. Wonder if he'll play this in honour of the Heath Ledger?

Cloverfield monster is a big bag of sticks

One of the main aspects of Cloverfield that initially irritated me was the reluctance to actually show the New York-bashing monster. In publicity and you tube clips there was no sign of the beast, not even a quick flash.

"But Hot Lunch, anticipation's the stimulation" said my pal Tom Araya, and I agreed with him.

So we went along hoping to see civilisation AS WE KNOW IT fall at the hands of some dastardly bastardly creep. But when the movie ended I still had a tingle of anticipation.

"We didn't see half enough of the beast," I grumbled.
"But that was the point!" remarked Tom.
"Arrah fuck off."

So, off I went to the internet in search of monster porn. Furious searching that literally took a few minutes saw me unearth pics that made him look like a whale with legs (fake), a whale with big suction cups (tantilising) and, finally, the truth. I have found that the Cloverfield creatre is a big pile of swimming sticks. Look at him here, all he is is a bunch of twigs with a fly's head.

The site reveals that toy makers Hasbro are releasing Cloverfield creatures to coincide with the DVD release later this year. Unless I want to scare nest-building Robins, terrify worm-sucking Jackdaws, or make tree-climbing cats uneasy I don't think I'll be buying one of these.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

2008 Meteor Awards - your minute by minute gala guide...

Missed the Meteor Awards because you were busy having a life on Saturday night? Then fear not. Hot Lunch was stuck at home with food poisoning so he now gives you a minute-by-minute account of Irish music’s biggest pain in the whole of a night.

9.00pm - Theme music - Here we go, live from the orange carpet.

A couple of minutes of footage featuring a few professional poses from “stars” such as Westlife, the creepy Dowling twerp from Big Brother, the You’re A Star judge and, crikey, it’s Muse and Joe Elliot. There then follows some nervous looking Irish acts, a sheepish Cathy Davey, a strange looking Paddy Casey, and a succession of lads with haircuts and beards, all pausing briefly in front of a half a dozen photographers. Great. Not even a token girl band this year.

9:02 – Daire O’Brian tries to be funny over lots of screaming.

9.05 – The RDS looks good. Why can’t it look like that for the all gigs there?

9.06 – Oh no. Paddy Casey is opening the show with “Addicted to Campari” or whatever it’s called, an I-want-to-fit-in-lots-of-meaningful-stuff-in-the-verses-as-quick-as-I-can- before. Slowing. The. Song. Down. To. A. Crawl. “It’s not for tonight” he sings. Too right Paddy.

9.07 – Gosh, his piano player has very hairy arms.

9.08 – Lot of Blizzards fans in tonight. Rugby jersey sporting teens galore. Or do they like the Coronas? Nope. They’re there for Westlife and Shayne Ward.

9.10 – I can’t remember any of that song. Was what’s-his-name always this forgettable?

9.11 – Is that canned laughter amid the screams of the panto crowd or has Daire actually cracked a funny one?

9.12 – An actor that’s appeared in just about every Irish movie ever and someone else get up to present best pop award to Westlife. Ho hum. Roisin Murphy looks good with a plate on her head.

9.15 – I love looking at whose clapping and who’s not. Oh, they all are. “Hello Ireland!” Leather suits? What’s going on in Westlife land?

9.17 - Patrick Bergin, on to present Best Female, looks like he’s just had a wank backstage.

9.19 - Despite only having Late Late Show footage, a dress too big for her ample charms, and a big white fringe Cathy Davey wins Best Female! Hurrah! Dolores O’Riordan looks even scarier nowadays doesn’t she? I wonder was she happy Cathy won?

9.20 – Another actor onto present an award. Is there no one else around? It's Stephen Rea. I like him though I hope he doesn’t go off on one. Nope, no time. It's the Best Irish Male Award. Hmmm, have The Frames now officially become Glen Hansard? They’ve just shown Falling Slowly with the band even though the nomination says it’s Glen. If he wins an Oscar will everybody like them, or him? Duke Special wins, deadly. He’s a nice bloke, but he’s a bit shy. Ohhh, he said a dirty word!

9.22 – The Cake Sale perform “Some Surprise”. Good to see a very neat and tidy Gary Lightbody is still perfecting his spastic frontman tics. He’s a much better pretend-spa than that spanner out of Editors though. Lisa Hannigan’s skin looks good. Crikey! Is that where Ollie Cole from Turn ended up?! He’s playing a steel guitar on his lap, and he looks like John Peel that time he was on Top of the Pops with The Faces. Wow! It’s one of The Thrills. Nice performance, even though the supergroup were so super they could play without actually plugging in, or actually playing. Maybe if they did play we’d all die of famine?

9.30 – Oh bollocks, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is on BBC2.

9.33 – Tom Baxter gets a big scream. Maybe Hot Press is right. Has Ireland really fell in love with him?

9.36 – No.

9.37 – Wonder how Tommy Lee Jones is getting on?

9.38 – Daire’s right. Most Downloaded Song is a reward in itself. Why are they handing one out at the Meteors? Do the winners not get a Platinum MP3, a Gold iPod or a letter of congratulations from Lars Ulrich, or something? Oh fuck, it’s Sharon Shannon and Mundy and "Galway Girl". What happened to the Steve Earle, why didn't his (original, and better) version with little Sharon not do anything? “An honest to God trophy” Mundy pipes - for someone else’s song? Fuck off Eddie. He thanked the DJ’s and the nightclubs!? That’s me. I had to play that shite song FOUR TIMES at a nightclub last Christmas. And if it's not fucking "Galway Girl" it's that fucking Journey song. "Galway Girl" is the ‘I Useta Love Her’ of the 21st Century though, and women from Galway will be sick to fucking death of it for years and years and years to come.

"So, ahh, where are you from?" asked Mark.
"I'm from Galway," repied Mary, her lips trembling.
"I ain't ever seen nothing like a Galway Girl!" sings Mark. "Yeeehoo!"
The whole pub joins in. Mary runs away sobbing.. The End.

9.40 – Wayhey! Eddie Jordan’s had a few. Hope he’s not driving home. At least he’s the only one on stage who actually seems to be enjoying himself tonight. The Future Kings of Spain were nominated for Best Album?! For what? An album with an eight minute song and 10 other identical ones? Gimmie a break. Paddy Casey wins. Did people actually buy that album?

9.41 – Why is Lord Henry Mountcharles wearing a Mayor’s chain?

9.42 – At least Paddy Casey was honest enough to admit that Cathy Davey should’ve won it. And he said a dirty word. Oo-er missus etc..

9.44 – It takes two people to present a Humanitarian Award? And one of them is a drunken gardener who loves Sinead O’Connor. I know Humanitarian Awards and music award shows go hand in hand, but man, do they drag on. It’s like when the bits about AIDS and famine come on during Comic Relief when all you really want to see is Vic & Bob fall about the place with the aid of a frying pan and a hammer. Tommy Lee Jones has just discovered two bullets; that film looks good. I knew I should have gone to the cinema when it came out.

9.48 – Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are on Tubridy Tonight!

9.51 – Did Sinead O’Connor have a stroke? God, the Republic of Loose drummer has lost a sight of weight hasn’t he? And he’s grown hair. He’s been on the sun bed too. Is this song about Limerick? Good camera shot of a girl walking through the audience to the toilet. Mick Pyro, pity he didn’t stay in the toilet. What a travesty of a song.

9.52 – I’d love to watch an entire World Cup or a Cheltenham festival in a pub with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. I hope ‘In Bruges’ isn’t a pile of cheeky chappie crap.

10.00 - If they ever making a Joe Dolan biopic, they should get Colin Farrell to play him.

10.05 – Funny the way extra Boyzone tickets were put on sale on Friday even though the show at the RDS this summer is far from sold out. Bet Keating is regretting it. He is. Look at the face on him. Keith Duffy looks so out of place doesn’t he? He’s like a groom trying to enjoy the first dance at his wedding when he knows the woman he should have married is sitting over there by the bar. It’s the same medley they did at Children in Need too. Can they not just sing one fucking song instead of doing a trailer for undersold live shows? Oh, and Stephen Gately is a cunt.

10.08 – The regional DJ from Cork just thanked Daire O’Brien for being a legend.

10.09 – Glenda Gilson looks quite weird. Shayne Ward looks good. Ray Foley wins Best DJ. Thank fuck Ray Darcy didn’t win.

10.13 – Jim Aiken receives posthumous award. Wow. Charlie Pride looks good for a man in his 70’s, and Louis Walsh can still crack a yarn. “He looked after the stars, but he also looked after the crew” said Christy Moore, and Louis Walsh rightly said the Irish music industry would be a different – and a worse - place without him. I met Jim a few times, he was a proper gent. Peter Aiken cried as he picked up the award, it was the first real tears I think I’ve ever seen at an Awards Ceremony, er, ever. Aiken never missed a show. Hope he was watching this.

10.20 – So this is the Coronas? They’re this year’s version of the Blizzards, or the Revs aren’t they? Good God, they’re diabolical, but if I was in college in Carlow or somewhere like that, and had nothing to do all day but drink cans and sing 'Galway Girl' to any female from Connaught, then there’s no doubt they’d be my fave band. They're like Feeder without any lyrics. Can’t wait to see them up on the Main Stage at Oxegen at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning this summer...

10.23 – Wonder if the remake of Rollerball on TV3 is any good? Oh, Westlife are on Tubridy Tonight! Jesus, he’s getting all the stars tonight. He’s just asked Mark (the gay one) if he wants to have kids in a manner that suggested male pregnancy.

10.30 – It’s time for the best song of the night – “Reuben”. Cathy Davey rocks, and Keith Farrell is the finest bass ‘cat’ on the planet (even though he’s miming tonight). The guy from the Immediate has turned into Liam Clancy. What a great song though, and a decent performance. There’ll be at least one artist feeling a Meteor sales bounce next week blah blah blah etc etc.

10.35 – Is it just me or are the nominations for best folk/traditional act the same every year? It’s the first “Dublin is the greatest city in the world” moment of the night from some token MTV dude over for the night. Damo Dempsey wins, fair play. Love the new look. He’d be a construction worker if it wasn’t for the fans, or so he told us. He’s also the only one with a cupla focal too, and the only winner so far with a bit of charm and charisma.

10.40 – Ham Sandwich have been chosen by the listeners of Ricochet’s show to follow in the illustrious footsteps of Angels of Mons, Relish, Rubyhorse and Royseven! Hope they don’t. They deserve better even if the lad with the beard is, well, whatever. I suppose Hot Press will now hilariously get them to pose with their award between two slices of bread? Manager Derek Nally looks delighted, and I think everyone in Irish music is delighted for him. Dracula has been at the coalface for a long, long time and he can now continue to chip away at it and bore us to tears with Van Morrison and Juliet Turner stories armed with a long overdue Meteor.

10.45 – Nice of Muse to make the journey over to pick up their award and talk about how much they love Dublin. I thought they kept the crowd waiting for an hour at Oxegen? Anyway, I’m sure that when they did play, it was worth it. I saw a bit of it; I think they only got to play one suite from "Tales from Topographic Oceans" because of the delay.

10.46 – Westlife again, and they’re singing live. Pretty good as it happens; well, they’re in tune at least.

10.50 – Ding dong. I’d STILL give Bo Derek one. She’s on Tubridy and she looks awesome for a 60 year old... Blimey, she’s just said “coming to Dublin is like going to Hollywood.” She works with disabled veterans. Hmmm, I think I’d happily serve in Iraq and be blown to smithereens by an IED if I knew Bo Derek was waiting for me in a hospital in California, ready to teach me how to play wheelchair basketball.

10.55 – Who bought Scouting for Girls onto that bill? Are they this year’s The Feeling? They should be done for stealing chords from the Beach Boys and, erm, looks from Keane. Fuck off. What would Elvis do? He'd fucking shoot you, then get the Colonel to hang you.

11.00 – Probably the most moving moment of the night – a tribute to the late, great Joe Dolan, a guy the Meteor Awards and their ilk have ignored for years. Indeed, 2 issues after his death, Ireland’s so-called leading music magazine Hot Press has failed to even acknowledge the fact he has died.
Anyway, Gerry Ryan grasped the moment brilliantly with his tribute. All night long the audience screamed and screeched for Westlife, for Shayne Ward, for Boyzone and for whatever pop/rock act wets their knickers, and Ryan reminded them that Dolan was the first one the Irish screamed for, and through his international fame and his incredible strike rate of no. 1 singles abroad, he brought home a dream that Irish acts could do it. That they could be pop stars. He was the first to show it can and could be done.
Ireland has produced a galaxy of stellar talent over the past 50 years, he said, but few who could cross borders, genders, or generations like Joe Dolan. “Joe Dolan rocks” he roared, and when you saw the cracking film of clips they put on after, you had to agree with him. Joe Dolan did indeed rock. He was Ireland’s first pop star, and he enjoyed every bit of it.
The film after was very moving, and as it ended with “Goodbye Venice Goodbye” I shed a tear for Joe. There’ll never be another like him again.

11.10 - It was kind of ironic that the next award went to a band from Joe’s hometown of Mullingar, The Blizzards. Dunno what he’d make of them, and if there is a torch being handed on back at the ranch (which there isn’t, The Blizzards have yet to convince) and if it is in the hands of the Blizzards, then at least they’ll have plenty of people to show it off too. They may not push everybody’s buttons, but they push more buttons than most Irish acts. Their singer told us he used to caddy for Joe Dolan and hoped he would be proud of them. I’m sure he is in his own way.

11.13 - Shayne Ward actually sang quite well, and after that moving tribute to Joe Dolan, it was quite a nice Meteor Award moment to be honest, with the screaming women finally drowned out by their own singing.

11.15 – Another odd but nice moment as Aslan win Best Irish Band. Aslan winning would normally send hundreds (including me) running to the doors screaming about a lack of cool, kudos, tunes etc but their boundless enthusiasm and their conviction to what they do 25 years into the game has to be acknowledged and admired. There was only two of them there though, the livewire Billy McGuiness and the drummer. The others were probably away doing an unplugged gig somewhere... Anyway, McGuiness was over the moon with the award and jumped around like a baby. By thanking EMI he also revealed something worth pointing out. Cathy Davey, Roisin Murphy, Dolan and Aslan were all signed to the label, a label that has generally been good to Irish acts over the years. Hopefully that will carry on even after Guy Hands and Terra Firma make them all sing for their supper. McGuiness finished his speech in true oul leather jacket fashion, but not before getting a plug in. “We’ll see yiz in the Olympia on March 16th – ROCK AND ROLL!” he roared. Alongside Eddie Jordan, he was the only one apparently enjoying himself up there.
The drummer then paid a nice tribute to the younger bands nominated at the awards and he followed that up with a decent, from-the-heart plea for Irish radio to support these up and coming Irish acts. He name checked a few of them, who can all be thankful for the plug. Two of them had appeared on 2fm’s 2moro tour, but they have rarely been heard on daytime 2fm. We never saw Bono do that when U2 won the same award every other year, so fair play to Aslan.

11.25 - Pat Shortt introduces the Saw Doctors. Two fine examples of rural Irish gold. I’m no big fan of either of them, but there was something quite nice about the Saw Doctors VT that followed. The ultimate compliment, as Davy Carton pointed out, is that in a 100 years times there will be someone singing a Saw Doctors song in a pub. And he’s right. Will Scouting For Girls, Ham Sandwich, The Coronas or Paddy Casey be remembered in 25 minutes time - yet alone 25, 50 or 100 years?

You know, it’s easy to take the piss, but the Meteors, in recognising Joe Dolan, Aslan and Saw Doctors, finally seem to have recognised the hard graft of acts that are neither on the radio, or on the wavelengths of most of those who tell us what we should like and what we should buy. But these are the guys that deserve to be rewarded, and there was something fitting about this conclusion to this year’s Meteors that they finally were - and en masse too. As an awards show, the Meteors has been defunct for years, so in coming on like an awards show from years ago maybe now that they have rewarded the old wood, they can move on. But to what exactly? U2? Snow Patrol?

There was a few signs of a bright future tonight, but sadly, what the 2008 show demonstrated - in those that won in other categories and in those that failed to win elsewhere - is that there’s all too few of acts left in Ireland of any character. Perhaps with the exception of Dempsey, who won the folk award, and probably Ham Sandwich, who took the previously blighted 'Hope For...' home to Meath, there’s very little in the way of character in Ireland’s current crop of bright young things. Maybe a fiver on the Saw Doctors to win Best Irish Band at next year's award may not be such a daft bet...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

1. Kitty Litter

Here's the first in a series of slightly delayed reviews.

1. Cat Power – Jukebox

Verdict: Avoid like the plague

Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, is a veteran at this covers lark. Back in 2000 she became a darling of the Uncut and Mojo world with the release of “The Covers Record”, a genuinely heartfelt and, at times, remarkably touching covers disc that saw Cat wrap her husky, dulcet and distinct voice around songs by Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, Smog and even Moby. It was quite a feat, and her fragile versions of well known rockers carried enough imagination for even the original songwriters to laud her. Sadly with her return to the covers formula she’s more than likely going to have the original artists lining up to shoot her. “Jukebox” is possibly one of the most spirit-free, energy-sapping, unimaginative and downright degrading covers albums since Paul Weller dealt with his writers block by unleashing an album of "his favourite songs", the hopeless and instantly dated “Studio 150”.

After her first covers disc, Cat seemed to be going places. She followed it up with the excellent, and again moving, album “You Are Free”. She then royally fucked it up with the self-indulgent “Speaking for Trees”, an arty DVD/CD set. The DVD consisted of bad footage of Cat performing ‘au naturel’ off the side of some freeway. It was obviously shot by a drinking buddy and sold onto Matador as a ‘one shot’ art project in return for a case of whiskey.

The resulting piss up eventually brought her to Memphis where the label hooked her up with some seasoned Southern Memphis players – grizzled vets of studio housebands who had been there, done that, and not received a dime in royalties for it. Together they harnessed little or no energy and created the feather light but, it has to be said, often engaging album “The Greatest”. It grew after much repeated listening, but I felt Cat was terrified to use the players at her disposal, and it felt that even they didn’t have much confidence in their new charge.

And now, staring once more into a creative abyss, Cat Power has managed to sour an occasionally promising career with one of the worst pieces of crap I have ever had the misfortune of buying.

It opens promisingly enough with a rather remarkable, upbeat cover of the Sinatra standard “New York”. Wait a minute, you think, this could be good. You remember “You Are Free” and that first covers disc. Sadly, any good this album possesses dies after those all-too-brief 2 minutes.

Hank Williams’ “Rambling Man”, covered to perfection by Mark Lanegan a few years ago, is reimagined as “Rambling (Wo)man” and the less said about it the better. I’ve heard Hank Williams covered to death across the world, from Delvin to Delhi, but I have never once heard anyone make this tragic figure’s lyrics sound trite, contrived and boring. But Cat Power manages just that. Awful beyond words.

An instantly forgettable crawl of an original that sounds like a depressed Sinead O’Connor singing as gaelige, and a woeful cover of the horse stealing cowboy song “Silver Stallion” (which features a child playing slide guitar) pass by and then this fast-fading honky tackles “Aretha, Sing One For Me.”

I have genuinely heard better Status Quo b-sides than this hash of a cover. If “the” Quo had the gall to cover a black standard, at least they’d do it with a nod, a wink and you wouldn’t mind. Well you would, you wouldn’t listen to it. If Aretha ever hears this she’ll be out for Cat’s head. Out of time sloppy drums, a guitarist forgetting his licks, the bridge from “Rescue Me” thrown in at the wrong place and a few uncomfortable pauses make for extremely uncomfortable listening. This isn’t a re-imagining, or a tribute, this is an insult.

And just before it couldn’t possibly get worse, it does. James Brown’s “Lost Someone” is, er, lost. She pleads for help throughout – “Help me, help me, please, please, please, good God almighty” she sings, without so much as dropping her lyrics sheet, never mind dropping to her knees. She puts about as much passion into it and sings with as much conviction as a reluctant captain of a losing Camoige team would if she was asked to sing Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” after her team had been annihilated 10-5 to 0-01 in an Inter-County Final. Thank God it only lasts less than three minutes. If James Brown was alive to actually hear this shit, he’d whip out that shotgun of his and hunt this kitty down.

"Lord Help the Poor and Needy in this Land” sounds like a demo recorded with a guitarist who had just joined the band five minutes earlier on account he could sound like a twangy blues man. Cat sings about motherless children, and countless other unfortunates, with absolutely no palpable sense of care or concern.

“I Believe in You” follows. Hang about; is this a Rolling Stones b-side circa “Steel Wheels”? Nope. Chance would be a fine thing. It’s a Dylan cover? Jesus, I’ve heard Bob Dylan sing this better than Chan. And just you wait for the overdubbed keyboard solo to come in! Yet another lazy waste of time. Mercifully, it fades out just as the “band” are allowed to “cut loose” by the former singer. Next.

What’s this? A piano? Sounds interesting. Oh, it’s an original, and strangely enough, the second best song on the album. Even Bob Dylan will be impressed that it's been written about him. Sadly, there then follows three more insults to Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell (how could anyone make “Blue” sound so bad?) and Janis Joplin, a singer Cat Power so desperately wants to emulate. We’ll have to approximate a famous football line; she’s not even fit to spike her drinks. There was a second disc in the version I went to inordinate lengths to buy, but I'm not even going to bother writing about it.

This album is so bad it represents something of a cultural shitegeist for the covers genre. In fact “Jukebox” is so bad, it's actually quite difficult to describe without opting for toilet talk. It is without doubt, the single worst album I have heard so far this year - possibly in a whole year - and is further proof that despite (sporadically) promising so much, Cat Power has evolved into one of the most talentless and over-rated indie queens in a long, long, long time. If a cat shit this out, she's be too ashamed to even cover it in sand.

I'm the gaffer

A handy guide for Trappatoni to endear himself to the Irish media:

Sono il capo - I'm the gaffer
Il dollaro ferma con me - The buck stops with me
Mi tite - You tell me.
Rinky Dink - Rinky Dink

Why do so many confectioners get rid of foil and paper wrapping?

I've lost count of the number of bars that have changed their wrapping from a traditional paper sleeve and foil finish to the far inferior all-in-one foil fresh wrap. I suppose Kit Kat is the biggest offender, and Cadburys can stick their all-in-one Dairy Milks, Whole Nuts and Fruit 'n' Nuts up their hole, but this morning I was saddened to add Jacob's Club Milk to that list.

I hadn't had one in years, but the impending doom and gloom surrounding Jacobs has reawakened my taste buds for Jacobs products. Pretty soon we won't have any mass-produced Irish biscuits to call our own, so I have vowed to test them all again before they're made in Estonia or somewhere equally grim.
Anyway, despite the crap packaging, the good news is that Club Milks rock! They have gone back to the tried and tested two biscuit with a chocolate filling formula (they changed it a few years ago to a single biscuit format) and the chocolate is like a brick wall. Perfect. It brought me right back to days supping ale in the Welcome Inn and the Airways pubs in Dublin 1 long before I'd even begin to think about lunch, then the doorbell rang. Savour them now before it's too late!

Hot Lunch - Asparagus and cheesy mashed potato pie in filo pastry, with a few seasonal leaves. I have now mastered at least 24 Jamie Oliver dishes.

Home & Away was daft. Martha, who is now living in a hay barn with a dog and an outdoor bath, was found wearing her ex-husband's bride-to-be's wedding dress. She tried it on after her ex-husband ran over her dog. For some reason he handed it to her so her to keep on the farm, so he and Martha's new fella, could go to the hospital and look for medical genius that is Rachel. However, Rachel, the counsellor who turned into a surgeon overnight, was at home having a baby for the O'Halpin fella. Then she lost it. He didn't care either way. He probably misses Cork. And Neighbours has a new look - fancy credits, censored theme tune lyrics and a new singer.

Hot Sauce - MCD better bring Eddy Grant to Oxegen. He's laying down an Electric Avenue at T in the Park the same weekend.

The only interesting thing about Oxegen headliners REM is the drummer

REM for Oxegen

According to Hot Press, My Bloody Valentine are paying Electric Picnic because they heard Primal Scream and Jesus and Mary Chain had great craic at it last year. So, does that mean REM are playing one of the most atrocious festivals in the world becuase they heard Davy Carton of the Saw Doctors, the drummer from Arcade Fire and Avril Lavigne had a right old laugh at it last year? Probably.

Anyway, after not much deliberation at all, REM have been unveiled - alongside the totally out of their depth Kings of Leon - as the main Oxegen headliners. Expect a clatter of shite and at least a dozen acts worth breaking the now-annual "I'm never going again" pledge to be announced once MCD get the Meteors out of the way.

T In The Park is normally a good guide as to who's playing Oxegen, and to dat they have announced: The Verve, Rage Against The Machine, REM, Kings of Leon, Fratellis, Kaiser Chiefs, Stereophonics, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Kooks, Aphex Twin, KT Tunstall, Biffy Clyro, Erol Alkan, Amy Winehouse, The Raconteurs, Primal Scream, Feeder, Counting Crows, The Feeling, DJ Hell, Wombats, Ian Brown, Amy MacDonald, Pigeon Detectives, The Enemy, The Pogues, Justice, The Charlatans, Interpol, Hot Chip, Pendulum, Ben Folds, Slam, Reverend And The Makers, The National, Jack Penate, Alabama 3, Sons and Daughters, Lightspeed Champion, The Courteeners, Band of Horses, Seasick Steve, Ting Tings, The Law, Black Kids, Sergeant, Gabriella Cilmi, and many more to be announced... Bloody Hell. RATM? Aphex Twin? Looks like my pledge is already broken...

REM are a curious beast and, like the decision to stick The Who on the main stage two years ago, they are a baffling choice to play a load of post Junior Cert teens, culturally clueless culchies and rookie drug users. It's a well known fact at this stage that REM haven't made a decent album since the mid-1990's. Sadly, the only interesting thing about them these days is the fact that former Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin plays with them, and even at that they only seem to allow him play live as he has yet to become an 'official' member despite putting up with their directionless MOR shite since 1997.

Rieflin was with Ministry from '86, joining them midway through "The Land of Rape and Honey" sessions. He went onto drum on "The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste", although by this stage he'd turned into a cyborg. After extensive surgery pioneered by Omni Consumer Products (OCP) had turned him back into a tweed-friendly dandy, he can be seen 'in the flesh' on the rather dangerous live vidjo "In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up". His finest hours sweating like a lug behind Al Jourgensen, though, came with the seminal "Psalm 69" and the organic and utterly briliant "Filth Pig" - arguably Ministry's finest hour that. Sadly, old Bill didn't seem to think so, and he fucked off before the "Filth Pig" tour got underway.

Somehow he ended up in REM, and last summer he thrilled the natives and regulars in Barney Drakes pub in the tiny Westmeath village of Castletown-Geoghegan when he became the only REM member to get publicly drunk when they stopped off for a few pints after a day at the Kilbeggan races. Stipe, by all accounts, wanted to go home straight away because two local children asked him to sing a song. The other two sheepishly followed but not before Rieflin snuck in two more quick ones.

I suppose the fact he's still not yet an official member of REM makes this outrageous behaviour acceptable. He's had plenty of grounding in madouva la-la-land. Away from Ministry and REM, Rieflin has pounded the pots for the likes of KMFDM Lard, 1000 Homo DJ's, Pigface, and The Revolting Cocks. His only other soft drumming jobs have been with Robyn Hitchcock and The Minus 5.

Masters of Reality - John Brown - Live - Feat Ginger Baker

It's easy to forget that without Masters of Reality we'd have no Kyuss and no Queens of the Stone Age. A one-man band in all but name, Masters of Reality is generally QOTSA and Kyuss producer Chris Goss and whoever he finds lying around. Over the years the band has featured plenty of QOTSA alumni and plenty of desert rock heads.

One of America's most underrated bands in the last 20 years, they have produced a string of eminently classy albums, and they've another new one on the way this summer.

Their finest hour though, was 1993's "Sunrise on the Sufferbus" for Def American. For it, Goss somehow managed to make Cream drummer Ginger Baker part of the set up.

It's a staggeringly beautiful album, equal parts rocking and haunting, with Baker's playing a revelation. His thundering rolls, warm cymbals and meandering timekeeping really make the album, but even if he wasn't there this would have been a special recording.

From melodramatic string swept pieces like "Tilt-A-Whirl" and "100 Years", to rootsy rockers like "She Got Me", and "Rabbit One" to beautiful love songs like "Jody Sings" this evocative album has everything. If you've ever tried (and failed) to get a decent cuppa tea in the States, it has a song for you "T.U.S.A." in which Ginger moans about the standards of USA tea. So now.

The song above, "John Brown" is not from "Sunrise on the Sufferbus" though, as very little footage exists of this classic, chain-smoking line-up featuring Ginger. It's a song from the first Masters of Reality disc, but Ginger's drumming is something to behold.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Midlands Music Festival - that's all folks

One of the most charming - but ever so slightly confused - additions to the Irish festival scene, The Midlands Music Festival, seems to be no more.

According to several well placed sources, the festival has been postponed - or, depending on your point of view, axed - this year as its promoters, POD Concerts and Rag Lane Entertainment, found it increasingly hard to secure top drawer talent which fitted the Midlands bill.

The failure of the promoters, POD Concerts and Rag Lane Entertainment, to secure a big box office name for the third outing has now led to the festival being postponed for a year.

After the relative disaapointment of last year's event, they had been aiming high this year - they had to - and concert-shy Joni Mitchell had allegedly signed on the dotted line before deciding not to tour. They really pushed the boat out on securing the silver-haired services of Neil Young and Bob Dylan too, but they failed to nab either man. George Jones, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and even American rock icons Tom Petty (long overdue an Irish visit), John Fogerty and ZZ Top (due to play it last year) were on the hit list. The Eagles were the stars everyone wated. But without any of these on board, the writing was on the wall. Having made little or no money in its previous outings there wasn’t much in the Midlands kitty to lure any of the high kings of the country, folk and MOR genres, and without them, Midlands was doomed.

The festival will be sorely missed this summer; in it's all-too-brief life it had become a welcome addition to the Irish live scene. But there won't be too many tears shed in MOR land as they will be more than looked after by Aiken Promotions who have lined up a veritable orgy of shite in the form of Eric Clapton and numerous other dullards to fill venues in Malahide and Cork. And no doubt the Eagles will cut the ribbon on the new look Vodafone Point "Theatre". It also looks increasingly likely that in the next two weeks Aiken will unveil big shows for key Midlands targets Dylan and Young. No doubt a load of other heritage acts will be unveiled too.

Country roots
The festival proved to be the sleeper success story of the increasingly crowded Irish festival market when it debuted in 2006. Pitching itself as a rootsy, family-friendly contemporary country festival, the likes of Kenny Rogers, Loudon Wainwright III, Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Dwight Yoakam and Glen Campbell were unveiled as the headline acts for its debut outing. But within weeks, the ‘2 days of Contemporary Country at the Castle’ tagline covered a more broader festival. Some seasoned middle of the road veterans such as Van Morrison, The Saw Doctors, and Don McLean were added to the upper echelons of the bill, whilst down below, folk-friendly steay-as-it-goes acts such as Tony Joe White, Lambchop, Mozaik, Albert Lee and others helped to broaden the appeal of the festival. For some reason Low were in there too. Country was looked after with Hayseed Dixie, Del McCoury, The Hillbilly All-Stars, Guy Clarke, Darden Smith, Charlie Landsborough, Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Hacienda Brothers. A real masterstroke, done with typical John Reynolds flair, was the decision to allow kids under the age of 12 in for free. Sadly, a stage set to be curated by Foggy Notions fell by the wayside, as did another stage full of old-timers. Acts like Calexico and more were pulled from the bill.

The event was a success and, as anybody who was there for Garden Party earlier that same summer would tell you, the venue was a real find. Set beside a lake and a real-life castle, it was a wooded, landscaped gem, with no bad views of the main stage, and with deckchairs galore it was an oddity, but a laid-back one at that. Facilities, catering and drinks wise, it was a small-scale Electric Picnic with decent grub and feck all queues.

Crowd watchers had a real treat at Midlands, as it was a festival which seemed to attract every strand of Irish society. The crowd was a real mixed bag of culchies, elderly couples, young families, seasoned festival goers, piss heads, genuine salt-of-the-earth music fans, gangs of good natured youngsters and people you would never normally see at a gig, never mind a two-day outdoor music festival. I remember meeting my father’s solicitor, out of his tree, wandering around clutching a wine box praising the skies for the presence of Jackson Browne. Even my girlfriend’s parents were there AND they got to meet Kenny Rogers despite her father calling him a "plastic-headed cunt" not two minutes before they shook his hand and welcomed him to Ireland.

Van Morrison confirmed that he is still rubbish on home soil, an utterly charmless man; I peed on Louis Walshes shoes; I ate the finest half-chicken I have EVER eaten at any festival in close to 20 years; and I had a whale of a time, certainly much more fun than I have had at an Irish festival in a long, long time. And the music wasn’t bad either. I’ll never forget standing with about a dozen others watching Low, and then being outnumbered by Lambchop. It has to be said that Kenny Rogers was bloody great - he rocked in a pure guilty pleasure kinda way, but he also had a shit-hot band of session guys you were sure you've seen before (you had) and he had Coolio (?). Glen Campbell was funny in small doses, Del McCoury was a lovely find, Jacksone Browne pretty good, Dwight was alright, Loudon Wainwright III was better than his offspring, Hillbilly All-Stars were great fun, and the likes of Tony Joe White etc were all good because it was all good all around.

There was some degree of surprise then when it was announced that Midlands 2007 would move to Belvedere House, Gardens and Park in Mullingar. However, the move worked. This venue had proved itself remarkably adept at housing at least 17,000 pill heads and apprentice trades”people” for the Hi-Fi:Ireland rave-up, so surely it would cope with an influx of older, more discerning music fans.

The move also meant Midlands shed its contemporary country tag, and a really diverse bill was announced. Signs that it was on shaky legs were glaringly apparent when the headliners were unveiled. Glen Campbell - on at about 2pm the previous year - was promoted to the top of the heap, whilst gnarly country vet Kris Kristofferson was unveiled for the Saturday. After much procrastination on his part, an initially reluctant Christy Moore was added to the bill. Other notables included Richard Thompson (at last!), Gillian Welch, Aimee Mann, Steve Earle, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Hillbilly All-Stars, Blind Boys Of Alabama, and, er, Kíla and some more including perennial Irish audience favourites Paul Brady,and The Waterboys.

The rest of the bill featured: Mundy, Anjani, Raul Midon, Jim Lauderdale, Old Stagecoach, Allison Moorer, Tom Russell, Prison Love, José González, The Be Good Tanyas, Bray Vista, Hothouse Flowers, Richmond Fontaine, Ben Taylor, Niall Toner, Sunny Sweeney, Luan Parle and The Cosmic Banditos.

As I posted below, the country market was all but sidelined for the second outing in a row, and Foggy Notions didn't make the cut for a second year with the promised four stages becoming two. However, the festival was another relative success, but despite the awesome venue, and all the plush extras and decent attention to detail we’ve come to expect from outdoor outing organised by POD, the magical atmosphere of that first outing was not in abundance. The incessant rain wasn’t a factor in this, there was just a sense of anti-climax.

Crusty Moore was impressive enough, and depending on how drunk you were, he rose to the occasion, but when you were going home after the first day singing the praises of him and Mundy you knew there was either (a) something great about salt-o-the earth Irish music; or (b)something wrong.

The novelty factor of Glen Campbell could only last so long, and it really should have ended the previous year. He just couldn’t cut the mustard as a headline act, and he was patently the wrong choice. The fact we were reduced to catching a cabaret cruise ship act such as this was a crushing disappointment, as was the thoughts of seeing Jose Gonzalez and a bird who did a line with Leonard Cohen in slots any number of killer acts on last summer's festival circuit would have died for.

However, there was plenty of gold in them thar hills, and the likes of Richard Thompson, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Prison Love, Hillbilly All-Stars, Gillian Welch and even The Waterboys more than made up for the poor and in choice of acts elsewhere on the bill.


At this juncture, you have to feel a little sympathy for POD’s John Reynolds and Rag Lane’s Darryl Downey. As far as promoters go, they are a very rare breed indeed - men of good intentions who put the punter first. But they were also gravely confused about what they wanted Midlands to be, and by cancelling it for a year, it may damage its reputation. They must be disappointed with the lack of firepower, especially considering there are few indoor venues for the big acts to play this summer, and we can only hope that they bounce back bigger and better in 2009. Maybe they should emulate the Cambridge Folk Festival (which runs on the same weekend) or perhaps make it a sister festival? Maybe they might consider taking Aiken on board too... Whatever, by postponing it, they have stunted its growth somewhat. Maybe they should have let it grow.

An official announcement is due later this week, as it is understood they were making a last-ditch attempt to save the festival last week and earlier this week. However, it’s too late now as Jim Carroll reveals on

Maybe a year off might give the promoters a chance to change things round a little, and to rethink it and decide what it should be. As far as the synergy of the event, the festival name, it's location and everything else goes, Midlands has it in spades, so hopefully it’ll be back.

So where could it go?

Should it go more country? Should it go like the aforementioned Cambridge Folk Festival and festivals like Cropready? Or carry on as they were and hope the big guns with across the board appeal will be available next year?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

KLF to take a Picnic?

Rumours are abounding that the KLF are reforming for a series of summer dates which may include an Electric Picnic date and a Bestival one a week later. The rumour mill has been grinding away for years that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty would once again don whatever suits they fancied and rev up the old squad car for a filthy lucre run.

Sadly these latest rumours are predominantly on the message boards of the Electric Picnic and Bestival websites so, er, they may not have the slightest grain of truth or hope. So, it may be some time yet before Ford Timelord deposits Time Boy and Lord Rock at a car park in Stradbally. Meanwhile, here's my favourite KLF clip, at the 1992 Brit Awards with Extreme Noise Terror saying "cheerio" to the music business. Billy Bragg seems to like it.

And check this shit out to see how much people have spent on their KLF collections. And there was I worrying about a fiver I once spent in Freebird on "Justified and Ancient -Stand by The JAMs (featuring Tammy Wynette)"

Patti Smith backed by Silver Mt. Zion? Imagine the hum...

"We're happy because we don't wear underwear" - A Silver Mt. Zion just after they completed their Patti Smith endorsed personal hygiene course at the Montreal University.

On paper, the only thing Patti Smith and A Silver Mt Zion possibly have in common is a dramatic history of often undocumented mental illness. To try and comprehend the two of them teaming up is, well, incomprehensible. But in Montreal last October the unthinkable happened.

Patti Smith was doing a poetry reading at the Ukrainian Federation in Montreal, and rather than bore the, er, Ukranians to tears, she twisted the arms of Efrim and his collective band of merry men and women to join her. And now, courtesy of the Big O, here is that set in full!

They didn't practice much (it shows) but there are some truly magical moments where each of their respective strengths shine through - in Smith's case bonkers poetry, and in Silver Mt Zions', bonkers instrumentals that go on until next week. Patti's in better form than she was on her last Dublin visit too, which is a bonus.

As the Big O (one of my all-time favourite download sites) will tell you, it is very much Smith's show but, as the occasional team up's between Irish slam poet Marty Mulligan and Kila demonstrate, the team-up works because it seems easier to jam with someone belting out a poem than playing a regular song.

It's an audience recording, as are most Silver Mt Zion and Godspeed You Black Emporer live bootlegs on the net (can't remember the site, but there's a Canadian one with a shedload of great ones out there somewhere, will update when my brain works)

There's a superfan review - "behind her Cassandran hair" etc - to accompany the slow download speeds you'll no doubt encounter if you're pinching this show at work.

Cold Lunch - real ham, baby gem lettuce, sugarsnap peas, cucumber, tomato, light splash of Levi Roots Fiery Guava Sauce, Hellmans mayo, salt, pepper, Govender's Chili Pickle, stuffed between two lumps of homemade bread, tae and Toblerone.

Hot Lunch - Kid Loco - Graffiti Artist OST. Rediscovered last night after it had spent at least two years under the couch.

Toliet Lunch - Cat Power Jukebox - and there was I thinking Paul Weller's Studio 150 was the most dissapointing, if not the worst, covers album of all-time. Well, it's got company. What a boring pile of unimaginative, unoriginal toss from a singer capable of much, much more.

Home & Away - Missed it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hank Williams Doc

All this George Jones talk got me thinking about Hank the Tank, another under-rated country giant who liked a drink.

By following the linkage below, you'll find a great BBC-produced retrospective of the late great Hank Williams as told by Steve Earle.

File under UNKLE

UNKLE are probably no more after the guy who actually made the music, Richard File, has decided to part company with the rampant egomaniac that is the, er, Man from UNKLE, James Lavelle (he's the one on the left).

I always had a soft spot of sorts for UNKLE, particularly as a result of their "Psyence Fiction" album (which was really just DJ Shadow and guests). It's also worth noting that Lavelle used to be a decent DJ. Some of the UNKLE mix albums are pretty decent, I have a few MP3's knocking around that aren't bad, and one of his Glastonbury sets is constantly on the go back in the office, much to the distain of my co-workers. He (or rather File) did a decent remix for Robert Plant too at one point.

However, in recent years Lavelle really became the quintessential prat. He re-released the remarkably dull "Never Never Land" album about two dozen times, and the last UNKLE album "War Stories" was as dull and about as interesting as instant gravy. Even the presence of Chris Goss, the balding genius behind one of the finest American bands of the last 20 years, Masters of Reality, the producer of the almighty Kyuss, and the studio boffin who used to make Queens of the Stone Age sound relevant, couldn't save "War Stories".

They toured that piece of crap last year, promising "an all-out live assault" (yeah, right), but I was genuinely looking forward to seeing them at the Electric Picnic. However, Lavelle ended up almost runing my weekend with his non-stop clapping, jumping, miming and general jackshittery. 'The ego had landed I thought' as I watched this fool march about the place miming everything and occasionally asking the engineer to turn up his monitor so he could hear himself clap. It was that bad a show, it sobered me up. Surprised it took Richard File this long to sober up...

Jaws guy dead

I hate it when the good guys of my youth pass away.

Roy Scheider, best known for his impressive smoking at sea "gonna need a bigger boat" and "die you sonnova bitch" role in Jaws has died at the age of 75.

He only ever received two Oscar nominations - one for his role as Buddy Russo, a policeman alongside Gene Hackman in The French Connection, and a bizarre best actor nod for playing a womanising nightclub owner in All That Jazz. But even though Scheider will be best-known for his small-town policeman role in Jaws I have fond memories of watching him strut his stuff as tough cop Buddy Manucci in the The Seven-Ups (1973), which features one of the best car chases ever. He was also great as a shady CIA agent alongside Dustin Hoffman in the excellent Marathon Man. He was also good as a helicopter pilot in Blue Thunder, and especially good with a nervous, sweaty turn as a cheating husband who turns the tables on his blackmailers in the brilliant, and very under-rated 52 Pick-Up. He turned up in the 2001 sequel 2010, in Jaws 2 and, rather nicely, in Cronenburg's The Naked Lunch. He also had roles in the Spielberg-endorsed TV series Seaquest DSV (which I can't remember ever watching) and Grisham-influenced thrillers The Peacekeeper and Rainmaker and - towards the end of his career - loads of ropey straight-to-DVD and 'based on a true story' shite that you wouldn't dare rent from a vidjo store for fear of being laughed out of the place.

Like so many of the great character actors from the golden 1970's era, he never really got his dues in later years, something that his vocal opposition to the Iraq War didn't help. Not even George Clooney could find a part for him. He'd been receiving treatment for cancer for two years but this did not affect his incredible suntan as any recent picture of him proves.
Rest in Peace you old goat.

Cecilia, you're wreckin' me head...

This bloody song followed me around like a bad smell all weekend.

Having not heard it for years it was on random radio statons TWICE on Friday morning. I switched off before it got to the bongo break. Later I was in Athlone to do my bit for Seoige & O'Shea, so after it I had a look into the Virgin, now Zavvi store and, lo and behold, bloody Suggs was on the instore stereo system. Instead of turning on my heels in disgust I ended up buying Slashes autobiography for a tenner. Then, back in the car, instead of listening to the yawnsome tones of Mary Wilson I instead tuned into Shannonside FM in the hope of cathing their award-winning obituaries round-up, but no, it was bloody Suggs again with Cecilia who was still breaking his heart and wrecking me head.

Then, on Saturday, Camden Town burns down. Suggs recorded an excruciating song called "Camden Town". Maybe the two were connected. Did the nutty boy burn down Camden? Probably.

Anyway, the Sid Little and Eddie Large original was much better...

Today's lunch: Toasted hang 'n' cheese with mustard and tae.

Home and Away: Dull, but at least Jack and his amazingly boring marriage crisis didn't figure. Instead we had the half sister who's DNA was never tested to see if she really was a half sister getting drunk and allowing bad boy Aidan to get his leg over. We had Ric's affair and something else that I have immediately forgotten about.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Keep it country!

"You sure you're off the drink George?"

"I sure am Tammy. Now can I have the keys to the lawnmower?"

It seems the Midlands Music Festival in Belvedere House Gardens and Park in Mullingar has some competition up north, with UTV and a crowd called JW Promotions hosting the first ever UTV Country Fest over the August Bank Holiday weekend. That's if Midlands is taking place this year of course... As yet there has been no official announcement, but Hot Lunch has it on extremely good authority that it is happening again despite losing a barnload of money over the previous two outings.

However, the promoters of Midlands, POD and Rag Lane, have lost one of their target headliners to UTV and JWP: the great George Jones, without doubt the sweetest voice in country music, and certainly one of the few remaining country music stars still recording and performing. Nanci Griffith and the terrific Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder have also defected over the border, but what could be of key note to POD and Rag Lane, and this is something they could be kicking themselves with, is that the UTV Country Fest (what a terrible name) has spotted something that Midlands really lacked: Irish country music.

Now the names Robert Mizzel, Mike Denver and Jimmy Buckley might cause much guffawing in more 'pure' music circles, but these guys are the ONLY Irish music acts that are consistently packing them in around the country, and as uncool as they sound (and often look), they are the only Irish acts capable of bringing a few thousand punters into unfamiliar territory: a multi-stage music festival. Midlands failed to attract the pure country crowd because they do not like standing in fields watching acts with tenuous country credentials like Don McLean. Night after night these Irish country music fans are packing dancefloors in all 32 counties with Ray Lynam, Buckley, Denver & Co providing the soundtrack, but over the past two years both these people and the IRish country music acts were completely ignored by both POD and Rag Lane who decided that what Irish country music fans really wanted was Hothouse Flowers, Sunny Sweeney and Mundy.

Anyway, the UTV Country Music Festival will take place in Dungannon Park Co. Tyrone on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd August 2008. According to the promoters blurb, the festival will see over 50 International, National and local acts perform on three stages and will run each day from 1pm-11pm.

"Country Music has a huge following in Ireland and the announcement of such an event of this magnitude will be very well received," say JW Promotions. "The main stage will see most of the American acts perform with the likes of George Jones, Ricky Skaggs, Nanci Griffith, Gene Watson and Vernon Oxford to name only a few that will enthral the large expected audiences on each of the festival days. All the American acts will appear on both days as will 95% of the other performers."

Am I the only one perplexed at that set up?

Acts confirmed to appear (to date) include:

George Jones (who we hope won't live up to his 'No Show Jones' tag)
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder
Nanci Griffith
Stonewall Jackson
Jimmy Buckley
Billie Joe Shaver
Mike Denver
Robert Mizzell
John McNicholl
Eamonn McCann
Philomena Begley
Shaun Cuddy
Roly Daniels
Justin McGurk
Leanne & Carrie Benn
Bonnie Stewart
The Murphys
Colin Kirwan
Deirdre Bonner
Alan West
Ken Bruce
Gene Watson
Vernon Oxford
Gretchen Peters
Boxcar Brian
Dee Reilly
Brian Coll
Country Harmony
Ally Harron
Marion Curry
Rod & Tracey McAuley
Louise Morrissey
Sean Corrigan
Anthony McBrien
Warren Smyth
Curtis Magee
Ray Lynam
Matt Leavy
Liam McLoughlin
Tony Kerr
Fiddler Adam
Billy McFarland
Aidan Quinn

Tickets are on sale from Ticketmaster at £st40 per day or £st75 for the weekend.

The brains behind Midlands, meanwhile, have booked Belvedere for the 26th and 27th of July. Their main musical targets (excluding George Jones who may yet play) are Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. There's also talk of Aiken coming on board this year.

Whilst the last two years were very good events indeed and were perhaps the most chilled out music festivals I have ever attended in Ireland, and despite some magnificent performances not least from the likes of Richard Thompson, Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch, Glen Campbell (!), Kenny Rogers, Hillbilly Allstars, Richmont Fontaine, Blind Boys of Alabama, Del McCoury Band, Hayseed Dixie, Aimee Mann, Low (to an audience of about 17), Lambchop (to at least 12), Emmylou Harris and even Tony Joe White and his pork salad, they failed to turn any substantial profit. This has left this year's Midlands very much in doubt. But the venue is booked, so who knows?

Belvedere is also booked for TWO other music festivals this summer. One of these is certainly Latitude, an MCD, and Festival Republic co-production aimed at the Electric Picnic Electric Picnic, crowd. It's taking place the same weekend as its UK counterpart, but in Belvedere's case it'll be the 18th, 19th, and 20th of July. No word as yet on the third festival... but it is not believed to be a bigger version of Garden Party. It too has lost serious money over the past two summers, and it is strongly rumoured NOT to be going ahead this June Bank Holiday weekend despite rumours that Hot Chip and Underworld were set to play it...

Friday, February 8, 2008

No no, no, no no no, no, no no no there's no limits! Well, there was as it happened....

Last year over a few beers a friend and I discussed - at length - a proposal to bring 2 Unlimited into Ireland for a couple of dates. We felt their horrendous blend of infectious, repetative, lyrically-rich techno pop 'Eurodance' was long overdue a re-appraisal. We recalled magical nights as young bucks, drunk on a fiver in exotic, far-flung places such as McGrath's on O'Connell St listening and occasionally dancing to this awful shite. We argued over whether we'd actually heard the DJ play 2 Unlimited in the Asylum the night some scanger fired a sawn-off shotgun in there. We recalled Anita's mini skirts in the videos, and sang along in the jacks to such memorable hits as "No Limits", "Get Ready For This", "Twilight Zone", and "Let the Beat Control Your Body"and decided there and then to book them in for an Irish tour. After a few more we decided we'd stick Techotronic , Dr. Alban and maybe Haddaway and Black Box onto the bill. I really, really, really wanted to get De'Lacy to play as "Hideaway" is one of my all-time favourite songs...

Unfortunately we didn't quite make this masterplan a reality. We both got waylaid in work and play but two weeks ago, over more beer, we made a new years resolution to at least bring the Eurodance legends that were 2 Unlimited to Ireland. We both had a few euro and thought there was still plenty of people left alive in Dublin's Inner City prepared to spend a night on cheap yokes. A few more enquiries were made and then today, I was alerted to this on State of Shock: 2 Unlimited are playing the DCU Rag Ball.

And I quote: "After sitting on this one to see if its a wind up we’ve now been assured that its not. Although I still firmly believe that it is! Anyway the DCU Rag week 2008 line-up can truly be said to have something for everyone. Confirmed so far are: - Groove Armada DJ Set- DJ Sash- B*witched- 2Unlimited"

The bastards.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Today's hot lunch

I normally stuff my face with steaks and rashers on Ash Wednesday, but as an experiment that was unbeknownest even unto myself until a few minutes ago when I suddently realised, this week I have become a vegetarian. Since Saturday night last, I haven't eaten any meat. God knows why... Now that I think of it, I'm feeling quite weak.

Anyway, today's hot lunch was Wednesday's hot dinner. A homemade tomato sauce concoction with fresh organic, free range pappardelle pasta. The sauce was started with onions, celery, a few carrots and a good hunk of garlic sweated in the sausepan for a few minutes with the aid of a dart of salt and pepper. Into this steaming pile of crisp flavour, I lashed in a couple of cans of tomatoes, followed by a chopped bunch of fresh basil and a few other herbs that have been hanging around the kitchen. For good measure I added half a red chili (chopped), some red and green peppers, a healthy squeeze of tomato puree, those brown-capped mushrooms you get in M&S (much nuttier than the white shite we're accustomed to), a glug of wine and few olives that were floating in a lonely looking jar at the back of the top shelf of the fridge. A spoon of brown sugar and further seasoning and away with it for an hour or so.

Served with fresh pappardelle pasta, parmesan shavings, and a quickfire baby leaf salad with basil, olive oil, salt and peppa, and a squeeze of lemon.

As Jack struglled with his forthcoming marriage, flashbacks to his recent shooting and his feelings for ex-wife Martha, and as Amanda's young fella nearly shot the doctor who looks like one of the O'Halpin brothers, I washed it all down with a cup of coffee and a lump of Toblerone.

Talk about declining standards in RTE...

Do they not have proof readers or something similar in RTE? Maybe even a spell check function on their computers?

Here's an email I received the other day about yet another Battle of the Bands competition. I haven't yet mastered the necessary technological standards to scan it and put it up real fancy like, so this cut 'n' paste job will have to do. Hopefully the bad spelling, atrocious grammar, and general air of bullshit will prevail. Sadly, the wide variety of fonts used in the original email won't come through. I'm also sad to say that the completely random use of capital letters throughout the email also won't be best illustrated by my declining standards in computer literacy.

I was also pleased to note that like every Battle of the Bands competition held in Ireland over the past 2 years, this one also features a token member of the Hot Press staff and Ken Allen.


Hello there,

I am the co-ordinator of this exciting new project for secondary school bands for RTE 2fm and I would really appreciate you giving us some coverage in the next edition of the paper. Please let me know if you would like any more information and I'll be happy to help,
Thanks very much and Kind Regards,
Helen Cullen

RTÉ Music


RTÉ 2fm’s Ruth Scott will revealed details of the RTÉ 2fm School of Rock – Battle of the Bands competition for secondary school students last Saturday on RTÉ 2fm’s The Saturday Show between 12pm and 3pm.

RTÉ 2fm’s School of Rock is inviting bands to send in demos for consideration. Five bands will be chosen to compete at five regional heats, ( Ulster, Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Dublin Heats)The judges will then choose one band from each heat to go forward to the final.

The School of Rock judges for the regional heats include; Cormac Battle of RTÉ 2fm, Ken Allen of Faction Records and musician Mark Greaney of Concerto for Constantine (formerly of JJ72). For the live final, the panel will be expanded to include Chairperson Larry Gogan, Stuart Clark of Hot Press, Noel Mc Hale from MCD, Emma Harney of Entertainment Architects, a representative from Walton’s music.

Speaking at the launch Cormac Battle said:

“It gives me great pleasure to be a School of Rock in this competition because I have been one of those soldiers trying to get on the first rung of the ladder and it ain’t easy. So to see some bands going for it will be great and as it’s a top competition they will be firing on all cylinders….may the best band win”

Mark Greaney agreed:

“I was extremely fortunate when someone from a large label signed the band I was in while I was still in school, but I know that that was an exception to the norm. That’s’ why, I am delighted to have the opportunity to take part in something which will hopefully change the norm, to make it easier for young inventiveness and flair to grow in the light. I’ve experienced some amazing things since my first steps into the world of rock, and I hope we can, at the very least, set a young band on a path to similar experiences. Let the eavesdropping on hidden genius commence!”

The winner of the RTÉ 2fm School of Rock will win:

- €5,000 gift voucher for Walton’s Music Shops

- 5 days recording time in Pulse Recording Studios

- An interview with Hot Press magazine

- A support slot at an upcoming MCD music event

- A photo shoot with music photographer Enda Casey

- A Pure Marshall DAB Digital radio for each band member

- An award for their school

In addition to this, the four runner-up bands at the live final will receive a €500 voucher for Walton’s Music Shops.

All the regional heats are All-Ages gigs and tickets are available for free from the RTÉ 2fm website. A special guest from previous RTÉ 2fm 2moro 2ours will perform at each of the regional heats while the judges are adjudicating. The final will be broadcast live on RTÉ 2fm at 8pm on 5 April with presenters Ruth Scott and Dan Hegarty

The Leinster Regional Final Heat will be held onSaturday 29th March in The Stables, Mullingar from 3-7pm with special guests The Flaws

On Saturday 5th April there will be a Live final from Studio 1- Broadcast live RTÉ 2fm with special guests Messiah J and The Expert.

The closing date for applications is Monday 25 February. Application forms and the full list of rules and regulations are available from this Saturday on the RTÉ 2fm website. . For futher info please email

*Please find attached two photos from the School of Rock Launch featuring Ruth Scott, Cormac Battle and Mark Greaney*


Notes to Editor:

Cormac Battle: Ex-Kerbdog and Wilt front-man Cormac Battle presents RTÉ 2fm's alternative music programme, The Wireless, every Sunday from 8-11pm.

Cormac, a native of Kilkenny, has been directly involved in the frontline of Irish music for over five years and is a keen fan of music from many genres. Aimed at the discerning music fan, the late night show will feature new and alternative music from the hottest acts around as well as the RTÉ 2fm sessions, live recordings, band interviews and a lot more.

Mark Greaney: Mark Greaney formed his band JJ72 when he was 16 while still in secondary school. This band released hit singles from two albums between2000-2003; the albums went on to sell in excess of 650,000 copies. During these years JJ72 toured across the planet and performed with musical luminaries such as Coldplay and U2. The band split in 2006. In August 2007 he embarked on the second phase of his musical journey, forming Concerto for Constantine with Gavin Fox and the infamous Binzer. Concerto for Constantine performed on the RTÉ 2fm 2moro 2our in November 2007 and wowed audiences throughout the country. The band has since been confirmed to support the Smashing Pumpkins for their Dublin and Belfast dates at the beginning of February.

Ken Allen: Ken Allen runs Faction Records, an independent record label from Dublin. He is also the a/r man for The Blizzards and co manages Irish band, Director. He will be releasing the ‘Faction Two Compilation’ of the best of new Irish acts in March. ‘Faction One’ was released in 2005 and featured early releases from acts such as Director, The Blizzards and The Immediate.

The information in this e-mail is confidential and may be legally privileged.
It is intended solely for the addressee. Access to this e-mail by anyone else
is unauthorised. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure,
copying, distribution, or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance
on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.
Please note that emails to, from and within RTÉ may be subject to the Freedom
of Information Act 1997 and may be liable to disclosure.

Adrian Crowley, long distance letter

An odd package awaited me on my return to work this morning - a large parcel containing a copy of Adrian Crowley's excellent, Choice Music Prize nominated "Long Distance Swimmer" album - an album I had already bought when it came out last year. Might I also just add that when I bought it (I always prefer buying albums by Irish artists), it didn't have a cd booklet. Anyway, I didn't mind. Don't judge an album by the sleevenotes and all that. The album itself was all that mattered, and having become an Adrian Crowley fan many years ago after I found myself talked into attending an underpopulated TBMC gig, it didn't disappoint. I had already heard a bit on his myspace and I knew it was going to be good. Little did I realise it would be his best to date. So, on the road home I listened to it, and all that weekend I listened to it. Even after that first full listen I knew I would be adding it to a certain list I was compiling at the time. When I got to work the following Monday and checked my post I was pleasantly surprised to find another copy of "Long Distance Swimmer" waiting for me in an envelope, especially considering as I had gone out over the weekend to pick up a couple of copies to give to friends and the brother abroad.

But today's copy - the second one posted to me in three months remember? - was baffling to say the least. It was there in a strange looking envelope with nothing else in it, just the cd. No note. No slip. No paper. No biog. No press release. No sticker even. Maybe I'm hard to pin down, but the envelope also appeared to have been written by two different people. One handwriter had carefully written my name with a flourish, whilst the other wrote my work address in bonkers joined up writing that could only have come from the pen of a lady.

So, has the album be re-released? Or are Adrian's people doing a regional round-up? Or did they forget they had done one already? Still, at least there was a booklet with this one...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Battle of the (Mobile) Band(width)s

No matter what way you dress them up, local Battle of the Bands competitions like this piece of crap from Vodafone really do suck and, if you're in a band, are a complete and utter waste of time. NO matter what bells, whistles and a token deluded Hot Press staffer have been attached to them in recent years, they all hark back to the clapometer system, i.e. the band who brings the biggest audience wins. Hot Lunch has lost count of the amount of talent contests/battle of the bands in recent years which have all been dressed up as the next big thing in talent contests. The one that will send you all the way to the top, and not just to the bottom of the bill at Le Cheile or some other rural music festival for the locals. From the pitiful You're A Star, to Coke's Blast thingie with those strange people, to a dreadful one I was involved in a few years ago, Emergenza, it always comes down to tribal lines. If you bring them with you, and they clap loudly, or drink whatever's been hawked, text whatever has to be texted, or download whatever has to be downloaded, you will win. And no amount of shite PR will tell me, or any other bitter old soak, any different.

But little did I realise there would be a new method of polishing a turd!

So, kudos to the reputable Jim Carroll of the Irish Times for exposing the latest battle of the bands sham, and a quite worrying one at that. If your band makes it to the final (which is hosted by RTE's latest comedy sensation PJ Gallagher, chuffed I'm sure that Makin' Jake has been dropped) your humble entry form MP3 becomes property of none other than Universal Music Ireland, the home from home for talent show nobodies like the white hat sporting You're A Star winner Lucia Evans and, er, a host of other bright young things. You also get optioned for a deal, whether you like it or not, with no trace of the normal trappings a band gets in return for handing over the rights to their music. Of course, it's all dressed up like the greatest thing since Ready To Go phones, so nobody will notice the small print, but if Jim's post gathers the same momentum that nialler9 did back in November when he exposed another sham, then I'm sure mobile phone companies will need to find a different method of getting into the youthful moshpit for the time being.