Two years ago on this very day, a certain somebody decided to put fingers to keys and start a blog. The blog was of course this one and the person, have you guessed yet? It’s been a busy couple of years, starting with a handful of film reviews and even fewer followers. But somehow, against all the odds (que dramatic voiceover) this little blog refused to go down without a fight. And so, in what would later be described as a sort of Rocky training montage with blogging, this humble weblog started to grow.
And now, on the eve of the ‘Blog Awards Ireland’ finals, it’s only appropriate that this little blog says thanks. Okay I hate to spoil the ending, but the blogger in question is me. And whilst my writing endeavors might not have been as hard as Rocky’s in-ring exploits, they were still made a thousand times easier by you (you being anyone who has commented on or liked a post, followed my blog, sent an email or simply took the time to read my mindless babble). So thank you, each and every one of you. And so as tradition dictates, this post would be nothing without some form of song attached to the end. So how about my very first ‘Song For The Weekend‘?
As I write this post I am currently siphoning free wifi from a local cafe, so I’ll try to keep this short. The Blog Awards Ireland shortlist was announced over the weekend and I can gladly report that my blog has been included in not one but five different categories. The shortlist nominations are as follows:
Best Designed Blog
Best Youth Blog
Best Music Blog
Best Blog of a Journalist
Best Humour Blog
Of course I am delighted to be recognised and included amongst some of the countries finest bloggers. Things have come a long way from my solo shortlist nomination for best newcomer in last years awards. I’ll keep you posted and have more updates once the good people at o2 solve my broadband issues.
OK so here we go, I think it’s about time that I got back up on the proverbial horse and returned to the faithful blog. I do apologise for my lengthy absence but I had the small matter of my final year of College to deal with. But now as I write this post I am free. Free from exams, free from painfully long essays, free from pointless lectures and above all else free from educational slavery. Of course I have to mention that the aforementioned freedoms are subject to me actually passing my final exams and assignments. Fingers crossed though!!
So what have you been up to since my last post here? I’m not addressing any one individual in particular, just trying to be friendly and open up a dialogue so I can tell you everything that I have been up to. So for the past couple of months, as I mentioned above, I’ve been working towards my college degree. This included the production of a documentary film called ‘Under The Influence’ which examined the relationship between video games and their users, but more about that on another day. I also appeared on the radio (can one appear on a primarily auditory medium?) and was asked to give a spiel on the upcoming Irish Festival Season. The blog post for which can be found here. I also have the mp3 file from the interview which I may put up at some stage.
Over the past few months I have received a large number of music submissions from some great bands. Whilst I have not had the time to blog about them it is fair to say that my study playlist was anything but dull. I’ll be catching up on these reviews over the next few weeks so be sure to watch out for the likes of Red Elephant, Analogue Wave, Wolfgirl and many other talented bands.
Finally, you may have (or not) noticed the Roksan logo on the right hand side of the blog. Relax, it’s not some bad attempt at naming my favourite Police song. The good folks at Roksan Audio have kindly lent me their Radius record player for which I will be using to add a new vinyl review section to the blog. I haven’t exactly settled on a name but I’m looking at something along the lines of ‘The Vinyl Countdown’, ‘The Vinyl Frontier’ or something equally as cheesy. To ensure the fruition of this soon to be launched section I am looking for vinyl records (yeah probably the most obvious one) but if you are in a band and have decided to press vinyl or happen to own records that you would like to donate then please get in touch. Secondly, I will be looking to interview some vinyl enthusiasts and collectors, so if you would consider yourself to be such person then please also get in touch.
And so think that’s it. Now that the silence has been broken you can expect a lot more reviews over the coming weeks, months and possibly even years. But for now let’s stick with tradition and finish with a song. (Bet you didn’t see this one coming)
So this Summer is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet for Music Festivals in Ireland. Be it the recently announced Oxegen and Electric Picnic line-ups, the newcomers Longitude or the small but reliable host of boutique festivals, it’s safe to say that there is something to suit all musical tastes (unless of course you are into heavy metal). If you missed my Irish Festivals update on Spin South West on Saturday do not fear. This blog will tell you everything you need to know as well as some things you don’t, about this summer’s musical offerings.
A previous jewel in Ireland’s festival crown, back by popular demand to a lackluster chorus of disapproving keystrokes as the nation mourns the death of ‘real music’. It seems that ‘Europe’s biggest Rock n Roll Weekend’ has forgotten itself during its year-long sabbatical and renounced most if not all of its roots. This years line-up sees the likes of Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Snoop Whatever, Example and Chase & Status occupy the headline slot and show previous headliners (Coldplay, Foo Fighters, The National) how things are supposedly done. Early Bird Tickets start at 149.50euro. For more information visit http://www.oxegen.ie
Go and see
Soulwax could be good
I’m pushing it here but Rizzle Kicks could be good for a laugh
If I had to choose a third act, even though there is no one forcing me but myself. I’d nearly say Example
Despite earlier concerns over the festivals future it seems all but certain to go ahead now following Thursday’s Line up announcement. Some of this years heavy hitters include The Arctic Monkeys, Fat Boy Slim, Bjork, Ocean Colour Scene, Franz Ferdinand and Johnny Marr. With 2013 marking the 10th Anniversary of the beloved festival it’s fair to say that revellers expected something a bit more fitting i.e. David Bowie & Daft Punk. But it’s early days yet. If you are thinking of heading along to this years EP and have been in the past then be sure to check out the loyalty scheme over on their website http://www.electricpicnic.ie/holding.html
Go and see
My Bloody Valentine
So this is the big ‘indie disco’ The Divine Comedy have been singing about. Longitude, the younger brother of the UK’s Latitude festival is all but set to make its Debut appearance this coming July. Formed after a musical breakup with the aforementioned Oxygen, Longitude took a host of indie and electro acts, left home and set up shop in Marlay Park. All the stops have been pulled out and a host of heavy hitting bands such as Phoenix, Foals, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Hot Chip and of course Kraftwerk have been recruited to mark the arrival of this new flagship Irish Festival. One thing worth mentioning is the lack of camping facilities. I’ve always seen these day festivals as a ‘cop out’. I mean it’s not a festival unless you’re camping on a mud made island in the middle of a rain water lagoon. Tickets are a reasonable 149.50. More details over on http://longitude.ie/
Go and see
The Cast of Cheers
The Year of the Small Festival
This year, without question, belongs to the small festivals. The larger music festivals, mentioned above, seem to have pigeonholed themselves into distinct genres and are catering for a select fan base. But festivals are all about diversity (no not that dance group off the telly) finding new bands and ‘rocking out’ to genres you wouldn’t normally be caught dead with. And if you want this variety then you cannot look any further than the boutique festivals. Body and Soul seem to have put together a great festival with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Willy Mason, R.S.A.G and Wallis Bird to name a few. And with regard to Indiependence, where they lack in the headline department, with the likes of De La Soul, Fratellis and Bastille, they more than make up for it further down the line up. With bands like Windings, The Hot Sprockets, Le Galaxie and even Kodaline, Indiependence has positioned itself as a real front-runner for the August Bank Holiday. But watch this space, the ever solid Castlepalooza are yet to announce their line up, and you just know that they have something special up their sleeves.
Bluegrass, folk, a big double bass and an ole banjo thrown in for good measure. Sound familiar? Of course it does! Corner Boy are relatively new kids on the tweed covered block, can a block be covered in tweed? We’ll it was only a metaphor, but disprove me if you must. The ‘Irish Folk Rockers’ formed under the guidance of singer and guitarist, Michael D’Arcy, and have recently released their debut EP Morning Morning. The 5 track EP, recorded in the secluded railway town of Lennoxville, Quebec, contains many points of reference within the modern folk scene. And before we go any further with this review it’s only fair to get these over-obvious comparisons out of the way so I can keep the focus on musicians at hand.
In 2011 Corner Boy packed a bag full of all things musically related to Irish and English folk and headed for the bright lights of Montreal. There the band garnered as much Americana Bluegrass and Gospel as their baggage allowance would permit and returned home with their debut E.P. Morning Morning and a hefty fine for excess baggage. The overriding sound produced from this intercultural pick n mix is nothing short of an impromptu jam session between Mumford and Son’s and The Lumineers in an Irish pub. Sure it’s not highly original but everyone is tapping their feet, clapping their hands and having a great time. Session on!
And that is what this E.P. is all about. From the explosive opening title track to the subtly crafted ‘Move to Paris’ you are bombarded with ‘catchy melodies and instant sing along lyrics that radiate energy; bringing the marriage of the new folk revival and Irish trad into the 21st century.’ For a debut record, Morning Morning is a very positive sign of things to come. They have already graced the stages of Other Voices Derry and have picked up nominations in the MRU Awards. Big things are most definitely around the corner….boys.
This is just a quick post to thank each and every one of my readers for making 2012 a special year for me and my blog. Seeing as I started out back in October 2011, last year was my first full calendar year and with almost 34,000 views and 1375 followers it’s fair to say that it has been a successful one. Thanks for all your comments and likes. They have added new dimensions to all my posts and above all else they proved that someone was actually reading them.
As for 2013 plans, it really is too early to say. But for those of you familiar with my blog you’ll know that my New Year doesn’t start till February. And for those of you asking why, perhaps you should read this post.
Coming up in the next few weeks I will be interviewing the talented Brian Offredi a.k.a. Golden BC as well as bringing you a diverse host of up and coming bands and artists.
But for now, let’s get the ball rolling with an Irish band called Little Green Cars. I already featured one of their songs ‘The John Wayne’ in my Top Tracks of 2012 List. With their highly anticipated debut album soon to be released and heavy backing from RTE 2FM (Ireland’s National Broadcaster) It’s fair to say that they are the band to watch in the coming year. Now whilst I might have some issues with Little Green Cars such as their style of music and the fact that they have already began to mold themselves to suit the American market. But there is no denying their talents and any song that contains the line ‘I put mice in the kitchen to see if you’d kill them’ is good enough for me.
Which brings me on to their new single, Harper Lee. You can watch them perform it live at the Ruby Sessions below or head over to spotify to listen to the studio version.
On first glance this title may appear to be a bit extreme. Especially for those of you with the fantastical view of Ireland as a green lush country over-populated with mystical little leprechaun’s, where we dance our way to the pub to battle our on going love affair with the ‘black stuff’. A more likely story reads closer to these lines. The green has long been washed out of our lands thanks to the almost non-stop year round rainfall. Also we do not dance our way to the pub for two reasons. One being that the literal meaning of the term ‘slip jig’ would be put to the test with our abundance of rainfall. The second, and more plausible, reason being that the cost of a ‘night out’ in our recently nominated ‘happiest country in the world’ would amount to a bill equaling a weekly spend on groceries. And what about the slaves I hear you ask?
Ok, so Ireland may not be leading the way in terms of conventional slavery, by which I mean that there is not a great deal of human trafficking carried out in this country. Not to say that it does not happen. But in terms of this article I hope to highlight a new form of slavery which has actually been spearheaded by our very own Minister for Social Protection. Ironic right? Well welcome to Ireland. The land of 1000 welcomes and all that. But at this point I suppose you want to hear about this legal brand of slavery?
Here in Ireland our devout ministers and government officials, looking for a solution to the great unemployment epidemic which is spreading through the country, have come up with a ‘flawless’ amendment to the problem. In a genius moment of clarity they have decided that the main problem surrounding employment is money. Well salary and wages to be precise. So to counteract this problem, they decided to stop paying workers. But of course this would be illegal, so they opted to pay workers 5o euro per week instead and have label it as the ‘National Internship Scheme’. But let me clarify this a little bit. Of course the entire working population takes home more than a measly 50 euro per week. I should have specified earlier that the scheme only applies to educated workers, who have obtained a formal College/University degree.
The aim of the National Internship Scheme is to assist in breaking the cycle where job seekers are unable to get a job without experience, either as new entrants to the labour market after education or training or as unemployed workers wishing to learn new skills. The scheme will also give people a real opportunity to gain valuable experience to bridge the gap between study and the beginning of their working lives.
The government claim that the scheme will help to provide work to over 5000 Irish people. They say that the scheme will help the intern to gain valuable experience and gain new skills. This is all well and good as it encourages people to get up and do something during these tough times. I myself am currently on a College work placement scheme at the moment and even though I am receiving no payment whatsoever I can say that the experience has been more then beneficial. But this minor collection of benefits is greatly outweighed by the negative and potentially harmful aspects of the scheme.
Participants will receive €50 in addition to their existing social welfare payment and they will retain all of their secondary benefits. The Scheme will not displace existing workers.
Although there are current limitations in place which regulate the amount of interns that can work for any one company and the internship period is limited to 9 months there is still more than enough room for exploitation and abuse. The Irish government, especially Joan Burton the minister for social protection, have made countless assurances to Irish people that the scheme will not effect existing workers. But it does not take a genius to realise that 5o euro per week is much lower than a standard weekly wage. Also the scheme is now accessible by any company, including fast food restaurants, bars and supermarkets. This in turn means that there now is a readily available army of high skilled cheap labour to be ‘used’ as a major cost saving device.
EMPLOYERS have tried to exploit the Government’s new €20m internship scheme to get free labour.
The department monitoring the scheme has been forced to take down at least 28 job offers from its website that “did not meet required standards”.
One of the ads removed was for a delivery driver and another for a night porter, according to sources close to the internship scheme.
The scheme has already sparked fears that the candidates would replace existing staff on higher wages, or that they would not get the opportunity to develop their skills.
The scheme is open to those on the Live Register for more than three months.
Employers have to pay nothing to the interns — who get less than €2 from the State for up to 40 hours work a week, on top of dole payments.
The fact of the matter is that the precedent has been set. It is no longer customary to pay staff for their work in Ireland. It is accepted as part of the economic recession, paid jobs no longer exist and we should be honored to be given the opportunity to work regardless of pay. The situation has been turned on its head to the extent where job seekers have to grovel and beg, just so they can work for free in the hope that they may gain some ‘experience’. You may not agree that Ireland is currently a slave capital. But give it a few years, I’m sure your mind will be changed by then.