I’m Scared of Vinyl

Uffie

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on March 18, 2010

Uffie seems to be one of those artists who people either love or hate – either way she provokes a pretty extreme reaction. I should probably admit right now that I’ve long belonged to the former category of shameless Uffie-love. Perhaps it’s her music that won me over, maybe it’s her extreme Parisian coolness, or possibly even her style –more likely it’s a combination of all three.

Uffie is on the verge of releasing her long-awaited debut album, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans, which still doesn’t have a definite date of release, but the first track, ‘MC’s Can Kiss’ has already gleefully splashed itself across the music blogs, despite the obligatory dose of bitter criticism that Uffie seems to get wherever she goes. To be honest, the real reason for the love-hate response to Uffie stems from how she broke into the music scene in the first place.

Most of you, if you’re bothering to read this article at all, will be aware of the Parisian record label Ed Banger. It’s the single most influential label behind the recent upsurge in electronic music. You could argue that Kitsuné can also make a claim for this title, due to the calibre and popularity of its compilation albums, but Ed Banger has Justice on their books, as well as SebastiAn and Mr Oizo. They’re also a notoriously cohesive bunch – artists on the Ed Banger label have a very close relationship with each other, remixing and supporting their labelmates. Uffie first appeared as the girlfriend of Feadz, one of the Ed Banger artists, when she provided vocals for Feadz’s track ‘Uffie and Me’ back in the early part of 2005. She went onto record ‘Pop the Glock’, which was produced by Feadz, and in early 2006, she was signed to Ed Banger, after Busy P (DJ and ex-Daft Punk manager – he owns and runs the label) heard the track.

The single, ‘Pop the Glock’ and its B-side ‘Ready to Uff’, which was produced by Mr Oizo, enjoyed considerable success. Lyrically, Uffie has never been particularly discreet: she certainly hasn’t been shy of either self-promotion or mentioning her connection with Feadz. ‘I got a man and he goes by Feadz’ was a refrain from ‘Pop the Glock’, whilst she pointed things out even more explicitly on ‘Ready to Uff’:

‘I’m that damn crazy brat, and I don’t give a fuck,

I got my man, my sound, my glass and I’m ready to fuck…

I’m Uffie, of course.’

You can see why she’s encountered a few problems, really. Still, she’s released some genuinely good tracks, and Uffie has a very distinctive style – you can immediately identify her vocals, even through the most distorted of remixes. What particularly annoys me is that poor Uffie is currently being continually compared to Ke$ha – Uffie’s videos on YouTube are annotated with inane accusations that she is copying the white girl rapping style that Ke$ha ‘originated’. Whilst neither of them actually started it, you can’t call Uffie the imitator – she’s been releasing music for years – ‘Pop the Glock’ came out way back in 2006.

Her latest single, ‘MC’s Can Kiss’, is every bit as excellently produced and lyrically taunting as her previous work. This is what I absolutely love about Uffie – no one can deny that her songs are first rate, but they can’t help but get riled by the accompanying words. If you want to spend an amusing hour or so, read what they’re writing about ‘MC’s Can Kiss’ on the music blogs, it’s hilarious. The general consensus appears to be to give Mr Oizo the credit for producing it so nicely, but to lampoon her for her lyrics. They’re supposed to be ironic, for god’s sake. How obvious does she have to be?

Unfortunately, due to time restrictions, we were unable to get an interview with Uffie, so as you’ve probably guessed, this piece is comprised out of a motley assortment of press releases, Wikipedia entries and snippets of information gleaned from obscure internet interviews. Still, it’s the Trinity Ball Guide*, I suppose, and it does help to have some idea as to which of the acts you might try and see. Already, I’m planning an elaborate schedule for the evening, of flitting between tents in order to catch as much of the line-up as possible. It’s that pre-Ball optimism that completely fails to take into account that most of the night is going to be dictated by how drunk you are. I’m even contemplating bringing a camera, in order to take some photographs, but I know that it’s a bad idea. At the back of my mind I know that history will inevitably repeat itself. Last year, despite being at the Ball for a good eight hours, I cannot remember seeing a single act. Most of my time was spent slumped on the grass outside the dance tent, watching my friends lurch past in various states of drunken dishevelment and varying stages of undress. The highlight of my evening was accosting the Senior Tutor and having a long, rambling conversation with her. Luckily I can’t remember the details, and I sincerely hope she doesn’t, either.

This year, my expectations have reached an all-time low. I know my limits. My alcohol tolerance currently rivals a twelve year old’s. Two cans of Bavaria and I’m practically unconscious. Because of this, I’m planning on writing the word UFFIE on the back of my hand with permanent marker, to ensure that this time round, I manage to see at least one of favourite acts. Keep things simple: that’s the best way to approach the Trinity Ball. And on that note, there isn’t really much point in going all-out on buying an expensive dress and getting your hair and nails done beforehand, if you’re a girl (or a man who’s planning an interesting alternative to a tuxedo). There tends to be an enormous amount of peer pressure to prepare frantically for the Trinity Ball, but at the end of the day: it’s dark, everyone’s drunk, and you’ll spend most of the night packed into a overcrowded tent, walking across cobblestones or sitting on the wet grass. Just enjoy it for what it is – a music festival in formal dress set in the unlikely and slightly surreal surroundings of Trinity College.

*This is a backdated piece that I did for this year’s Trinity Ball Guide, hence the off-topic rambling at the end of the article. Due to a very tight deadline, there wasn’t a chance to set up an interview, hence the way that the article reads like an extended bio. Sorry about that!

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Trinity Ball 2010

Posted in Gigs, News by Catriona on February 22, 2010

So the acts for this year’s Trinity Ball have finally been announced: here’s the full line-up of who will be playing:

Dizzee Rascal

Mystery Jets

Mr Hudson

Uffie

Digitalism

Example

Jape

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool

Jesse Rose

Louis La Roche

Japanese Popstars

Fred Falke

Delorentos

The Law

Darwin Deez

Planet Parade

Replicators

Definitely Mightbe

Adored

Police Force

Bitches with Wolves

War Stage

This year’s ball is going to be on Friday 16th April, and tickets are going on sale on Wednesday, 24th February. If you’re a student or graduate you can buy tickets here.

We Have Band

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on November 7, 2009

We Have Band are playing in Crawdaddy on the 13th November, and I’m pretty excited. I first came across them on the most recent Kitsune Maison compilation (Vol. 7 ) which included their song “Time After Time”. I always try and track down the Kitsune compilations, but to be honest, I always shy away from the really hard house/techno tracks and invariably gravitate towards the more electro elements of the compilations. We Have Band are a three-piece from Manchester who have a brilliantly pared-down synthpop sound – if you do get a chance to see them live, it should be interesting.

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Ed Banger Tour 2009

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on October 1, 2009

Ed Banger Records. The legendary record label that churns out the crème de la crème of French electro house music. If you have the slightest interest in dance music, chances are you’ll already be queuing to buy your ticket, and the only additional information you’ll require is which of their artists will be DJing. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, keep reading.

France has long been the home of electronic and house music since the emergence of Daft Punk, and Paris is a base for a significant proportion of the most prominent artists and DJs in this genre. The tight knit group of musicians who are signed to the prestigious Ed Banger Records are a pretty elite bunch, including artists such as Justice, SebastiAn, Mr Oizo, DJ Mehdi, Uffie, and of course, Busy P, aka Pedro Winter, label founder, DJ and all-round legend. The current status of Paris as the hub of new wave electro and house is partly thanks to Winter, who, as well as managing Daft Punk for twelve years, set up Ed Banger in 2002 as a division of Headbangers Entertainment. The label has represented some of the most memorable electro artists around, as can be seen from their compilation albums, which rival the Kitsuné Maison compilations for their exciting remixes and innovative sounds.

Heading up the tour is the Busy P himself, whose inspired remixes of the artists on his label along with his (admittedly limited) range of solo work always makes for a good set. In an interview with Pitchfork last year, Busy P said that his ambition was to make music that people wanted to party to. It certainly seems to be working – his appearance at last year’s Ed Banger night at Transmission had me dancing on the stage, it was that fantastic.

Joining Busy P is Feadz, who has recently released his latest EP, “P*N*M*B*” (People, Numbers, Money, Business), as a follow-up to last year’s “Happy Meal”. Feadz is a long-running fixture on the Parisian club scene, working with Mr Oizo on his debut album, Analog Worms Attack in 1999, and was also largely responsible for launching the career of labelmate and former girlfriend Uffie. He’s also done remixes for the likes of Modeselektor and Justice.

The next member of the Ed Banger line-up is So Me, who is an art director and graphic designer for the label as well as doing the odd bit of DJing. He’s a man of many talents, as well as DJing, he’s also the designer for the clothing line Revolver and he has directed several music videos for artists such as Justice and Kanye West. Have a look at Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” video – So Me designed every one of the countless tshirts featured in the three minute video. As a label, Ed Banger is well-known for its distinctive visuals, and So Me has played a strong part in shaping that image.

Breakbot is the final name on the line-up and his style differs considerably from the other three, going for a far more classic disco vibe, remixing a variety of artists and traditional French pop to create a disco-tastic sound packed with slick synths that always manages to stay on the right side of cheesy. By day, Thibaut Berland makes the most of his love of animation, creating music videos and commercials, by night he creates electronic music, experimenting with beats, layers, keyboards, vocals and Daft Punk-esque bass lines.

The event that prompted the upcoming Ed Banger tour was a little odd – to promote the label’s collaboration, with, erm, the backpack manufacturers Eastpak (who, yes, made that dodgy looking schoolbag you had back in fourth class). Extensive research on the Eastpak website confirmed that although they are making a major effort to draw in the cool kids with their roll-call of carefully market-researched collaborations, their principal stock-in-trade is still schoolbags. Still, whatever the reason for a repeat invasion of the Ed Banger crew, make a note: keep Friday 16th October free, because, if last year’s tour was anything to go by, it should be epic.

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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.

Emmy the Great

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on July 10, 2009

Fresh from her appearance at Glastonbury, Emma-Lee Moss, aka Emmy the Great descends upon Crawdaddy yet again. Despite having only released her debut album, First Love, in February, the 24 year old is no stranger to touring, having supported the likes of Martha Wainwright, Bright Eyes and Tilly and the Wall. Don’t be tempted to lump her in with the recent tirade of female singer-songwriters, as Emmy the Great’s delicate folk-inspired melodies lean more towards Regina Spektor than Lily Allen. Emmy the Great is most notable for her ballad-like lyrics, which are stories in their own right: “Gabriel” is about a 19th century woman who marries for money, while “Edward is Dedward” tells the story of a girl who attends her lover’s funeral before sleeping with his father – riveting stuff. It’s Emmy the Great’s second time playing in Crawdaddy this year: if you missed her the first time, don’t make the same mistake again.

Emmy the Great plays Crawdaddy, Harcourt Street. July 15th, 8pm (€12)

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Indie Week at Whelans

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on July 1, 2009

It’s a particularly hectic line-up at Whelans tonight. Seven bands are playing as part of Indie Week, which is currently touring the country. Things could get tense, especially since the prize is the highly sought-after chance to play at Canada Music Week. Headlining the gig are two previous winners: Limerick band Vesta Varro and the up-and-coming Walter Mitty and the Realists. The competing bands are a diverse bunch: the best-known contenders are Dublin band The Kinetiks, who are currently touring after the release of their “Aye Aye Aye Aye” EP in March. They’ll be joined by 16 Llayers, Bella Clava, Poet in Process and Paperdoll. It looks like it could be an interesting competition: Paperdoll in particular should be worth watching, as the NY four-piece have had a string of critically acclaimed sell-out shows in the US in the wake of their debut album, Ballad Nerd Pop.

Whelans, Wexford St. July 3, 8pm (€12)

Josh Gabriel

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on June 26, 2009

If you’re into dance or techno, chances are you’ve already heard of Josh Gabriel, and will probably be going to POD this evening. If not, here’s an introduction. Best known as half of the 90s superduo, Gabriel & Dresden, Josh Gabriel is responsible for much of the developments in modern electronic music software, pioneering remix techniques that evolved into Mixman, the forerunner of modern remixing and editing programs. Sounds technical? It is. Josh Gabriel has a pretty formidable reputation in DJ circles, largely due to his successful and long-running collaboration with Dave Dresden, as well as some impressive producing credits and his aforementioned inventive genius. His sound has evolved from his earlier leanings towards trance, with Gabriel now favouring carefully constructed techno. Currently promoting the release of his debut solo album, Eight, which celebrates his native Amsterdam, Josh Gabriel plays at POD as part of an extensive European tour.

Josh Gabriel plays at POD, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. 26 June, 11pm (€15)

Deerhunter

Posted in Gigs by Catriona on April 30, 2009

Bradford Cox declared that his ambition was to “make a discography that listens like a schizo mixtape” and Deerhunter’s sound is certainly subverting typical genres, hovering somewhere in the surreal territory of ambient punk. Cox is notorious for his onstage behaviour, which, combined with the fact that he suffers from Marfan syndrome and has a penchant for wearing dresses, is pretty startling. This is a rescheduled gig – they were originally due to play in March – but the delay has just heightened the sense of anticipation, especially for those lucky enough to catch their last performance in Whelans, back in 2007, which was certainly memorable. Deerhunter are one of the most effortlessly cool bands around, and are even able to cite Karen O as one of their fans, with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer describing their live shows as “a religious experience”. One thing’s for sure, this gig certainly won’t be predictable.

Andrews Lane Theatre,  22nd May, 7.30pm. (€14)

Rachel Unthank and the Winterset

Posted in Albums, Gigs by Catriona on February 4, 2009

rachel-unthank

 

Rachel Unthank and the Winterset played a set in the Douglas Hyde Gallery yesterday (Tuesday, February 3). Due to the unexpected snowstorm, I wasn’t able to go, although I have a feeling that I’ll regret that for quite some time to come. Folk quartet Rachel Unthank and the Winterset are fronted by sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, who combine traditional folk music with a contemporary edge. Their debut album, Cruel Sister, was awarded Folk Album of the Year by Mojo magazine back in 2005, while their second album, The Bairns, saw the group being nominated for four BBC Folk Awards in 2008. Rachel Unthank and the Winterset are an incredibly original band, who take a traditional genre and stamp all over it – literally. Read the commentary by Rachel and Becky that accompanies the CD for The Bairns, it throws up some interesting facts about each song, such as Rachel’s comments on the accompaniment to “Felton Lonnin”, where she reveals that: “The ‘percussion’ is Becky in her high heels. Glamfolk all the way!”