I’m Scared of Vinyl

Fight Like Apes

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on September 25, 2009

If you didn’t catch Fight Like Apes’ set at this year’s Trinity Ball, then you’re in luck: they’re back to headline the Freshers’ Ball. All things considered, you have to hand it to Ents for managing to book them again, considering the spiralling popularity of a band which appears to be on the brink of mainstream success. Fight Like Apes certainly seem to be working hard: over the past year, the band have done a truly heroic amount of touring, supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Prodigy, the Ting Tings and Kasabian, amongst others, and earning themselves a reputation for their energetic live performances, which involve MayKay leaping about the stage like someone possessed and Pockets playing a keyboard with his head. As a band they seem to be charming everyone that they play with – in a recent interview that I did with the Von Bondies, Jason Stollsteimer spent at least ten minutes elaborating on just how great Fight Like Apes were, and cited them as his favourite Irish band. He also said that they were his favourite band to tour with (so much for Franz Ferdinand, The Kills and Kasabian who all supported the Von Bondies once upon a time) saying that “Fight Like Apes were the most fun to hang out with because they were like kids, like little monkeys on stage…it was great.”

Though hardly the most subtle of bands, Fight Like Apes are undoubtedly the most original Irish act of recent years, and stoically refuse to be put into a box: describing their sound as “karate rock” in order to irritate the NME after it attempted to pigeonhole the band along with two other female-fronted acts. It is their originality that makes Fight Like Apes such a striking act – unlike most bands in the early stages of their career it is extremely difficult to pinpoint their influences and their sound is truly their own. There’s no chance of mistaking a Fight Like Apes song, it smacks you right between the eyes, with MayKay’s distinctive vocals which alternately screech or croon, the heavy bass which more than makes up for the lack of guitar and the humorously explicit lyrics vying for attention with the crazy titles. Apparently specifically designed to piss off journalists, the album and EP titles are impressively long, and mostly inspired by dodgy B-movies, from their 2007 EP, “David Carradine is a Bounty Hunter whose Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch” to their rather more recent EP which was aimed to appeal to a US audience: “You Filled His Head with Fluffy Clouds and Jolly Ranchers, What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?”.

Aside from their originality and mesmeric stage presence, they have also put out one of the best albums of last year, with Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion, which they have since re-released in a two-CD format. The band flew over to Seattle to record the album with producer John Goodmanson in early 2008 and their resulting debut went down well with all but the most conservative of critics. If you read through the album reviews, what is striking is that every reviewer differs in their opinion of which songs are the best – there seems to be no general consensus as to which are the “good” songs – each individual track competes for attention, which is surely the sign of a first-rate album. All of their singles, “Something Global”, “Lend Me Your Face”, “Jake Summers” and “Tie Me Up With Jackets” received considerable airplay and the band was nominated for an array of awards, including the Choice Music Prize and no fewer than five Meteor Music Awards.

If you’re one of the few people left in Ireland who has yet to see them live, then go to the Freshers’ Ball. I’ll be in the front row, probably singing along in an embarrassingly fervent manner. Call it shameless plugging, call it whatever you want, but believe me, if you don’t see them, you’ll be missing out.

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Jenna Toro

Posted in Interviews by Catriona on September 18, 2009

I’ve somehow found myself editing the Ents Magazine for Trinity College Student’s Union, which basically involves writing numerous biographies of  bands composed entirely of information pulled from the internet. It’s always unpleasant having to write about bands in such a second-hand manner, because all personality really goes out the window, and you’re left with something that amounts to very little more that a jumped-up Wikipedia entry. Still, having said that, I’m still going to post them anyway…

So here you go, a piece on Jenna Toro, who’ll be coming to play at Trinity very shortly.

Judging from her performance at Oxegen, Jenna Toro is certainly one to watch. The 21 year old from Killiney has just written and recorded her debut album, which features her debut single Electric City. “My songs are autobiographical and writing them is like therapy for me,” Jenna explains. “I write to express myself and to sort out my own problems. It’s to benefit me, my life, and it’s for my own well-being. It’s how I deal with problems.”

Jenna has been writing music since her early teens, after her parents were advised by her school that they should get her involved in a social outlet to give her overactive mind a break. “I was reading all the time – I still go through three books a week – and I was too concentrated on my school work,” Jenna says. “Then I started doing piano lessons and the music developed from there.”

Jenna started learning the piano at the tender age of four, and by her teens she was working with the same producer as The Corrs. “This is all I’ve ever wanted to do” says Jenna. “When I was 13, I started recording demos. I used to get the Hot Press yearbook and write out envelopes to every person.” It’s not surprising that before long she was working with one of Ireland’s top managers and, and recording with legendary producer Billy Farrell.

Jenna’s lucky to have such strong support from her parents, who were so convinced of her commitment to music that they agreed to support her decision if she wanted to drop out of her degree. “I went to college for a few years and they said: “If you don’t want to go to college, don’t,” she explains. Although Jenna loved studying International Business and Languages in DIT – “I’m real kind of academic, I’m a bit of a loser,” she says with dry humour – she has taken two years out to focus on the launch of her debt album.

“Singing with the band really gives the songs a whole new life and I’m so looking forward to getting on stage,” she enthuses.

Oxegen was one of her first experiences playing live. Due to a lucky accident of timing and weather she found herself in front of a massive audience. “The Saw Doctors were finishing on the main stage,” Jenna remembers. “I went into the tent where I was playing and there were about 200 people there. The loads of people came in from The Saw Doctors and then it started to pour rain, so the place was packed, it was brilliant.”

Despite the fact that Jenna’s career is still at such a fledgling stage, she has already garnered glowing reviews from music critics for her sensitive songs as well as for her looks. Jenna believes taking a very personal approach to writing music. “It’s better if you are in it,” she says of her songwriting method. “If you are experiencing something and you go to write it, and you do something else and you don’t finished it that say, you have a problem. I’ve written before about things that are maybe painful to write about and then you have to go back and finish them and it’s very painful to go back.”

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Vivian Girls – Everything Goes Wrong

Posted in Albums by Catriona on September 12, 2009

Vivian Girls

Everything Goes Wrong

In the Red: 2009

It has only been a year since insanely cool indie trio the Vivian Girls released their debut on an eager audience. The self-titled album went on to be hugely successful with gems such as “Where Do You Run To” and “Tell The World” .The album was even included in Pitchfork’s “Top 100 albums of 2008” list. The Brooklyn trio cite The Shangri Las, Nirvana and The Wipers as influences to their shoegaze/punk style sound. Their newly released second album Everything Goes Wrong delivers much of the same of what we heard first time round. “When You’re Gone”, the first single of the album is an enjoyable enough mixture of hazy vocals and half played guitars mixed up with a dose of retro candy pop. The rest of Everything Goes Wrong follows in the same mould with few surprises or stand out tracks. I think I will be sticking to their debut.

Micachu & the Shapes

Posted in Videos by Catriona on September 11, 2009

The new video for “Turn Me Well”.

(500) Days of Summer soundtrack

Posted in News by Catriona on September 8, 2009

I went to see (500) Days of Summer the other day and while I liked the film, I was quite impressed with the soundtrack. Apart from the obvious emphasis on The Smiths (always a good thing), there was a good cover of The Pixies “Here Comes Your Man”, and the film also featured tracks from The Temper Trap, Black Lips and Regina Spektor. The most surprising thing, though, was that it prompted me to start listening to Carla Bruni, which was a bit of a surprise. “Quelqu’un M’a Dit” came on on mid-way through the film – I’d heard it before but didn’t know who wrote or performed it. After a bit of an internet search, I realised that it was from Carla Bruni’s first album. I’ve posted the YouTube link below so you can have a listen to it, if you fancy (I don’t upload music unless I have permission, sorry!).

The XX

Posted in Albums by Catriona on September 3, 2009

The xx

The xx

Young Turks: 2009

The xx are creating a serious stir with the release of their self-titled debut, and no wonder. For a first album, their songs are remarkably sophisticated and atmospheric, a collection of languid love-songs propelled into a dialogue by the male-female vocal duo of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft. The album invokes a sense of neatness and care in the composition, the measured floating vocals and instrumental precision heightened by the use of a drum machine. With no overtly apparent influences, the xx have appeared fully-fledged, with an unusually progressive sound for such a young band. The two singles that have been released so far, “Basic Space” and “Crystallised” are not stand out hits, but blend seamlessly with the rest of the tracks on this understated, lyrical album. The band are currently supporting Florence and the Machine as a preamble to their upcoming solo tour, and look set to become progressively more successful.

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