Villagers – INEC 18th March (Photo Gallery)

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Top 10 Tracks of the Year – The John Wayne

Keeping inline with the tradition of all music websites publishing ‘Top Lists’ around this time of year,  I have decided to  release my very own. As you can probably tell from the title I have decided to publish my top 10 tracks of the year. So lets kick this highly original idea off with number 10.

10. The John Wayne – Little Green Cars

Since the release of their debut single, Little Green Cars have experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity. The Dublin five piece band consisting of Stevie Appleby (vocal & guitar), Adam O’Regan (vocal & guitar), Donagh Seaver O’Leary (bass guitar), Dylan Lynch (drums) and Faye O’Rourke (vocal & guitar) formed almost three years ago and have been playing and recording ever since. They have had a phenomenal year at home with major festival appearances and an abundance of coverage. With a 2013 album in the works and a growing fan base in the states and overseas it may not be much longer till ‘Little Green Cars’ becomes a household name.

 

Stay tuned for song number 9

Introducing – Golden BC

I get a lot of emails from bands and PR companies alike asking me to listen to their album and possibly write a review. Regrettably I do not always have time to get through all these requests. But I’m hoping to rectify this, a little bit anyway, by showcasing some of the very talented bands who got in touch in the past.

I’ve decided to get the ball rolling with Golden BC, the solo project of Canadian singer-songwriter Brian Offredi. His debut album, Just Take It, was released last month and can be streamed here.

On first listen, Just Take It, seems to be a highly conceptual and atmospheric record. The album was two years in the making a fact which is clearly reflected in some tracks. The attention to detail on tracks like ‘John’, with its intricate and chilling  ‘musical knife strokes’, is refreshing while the rough edgyness of  ‘Afraid To Wake Up’ and ‘The Idiots’ makes for a layered and well-rounded record.

Below is an excerpt from Golden BC’s official website.

“On a dark and stormy night in May 2006, Brian Offredi (a.k.a. Golden B.C.) sat down with a bottle of Jack Daniels and an acoustic guitar and decided he was going to write his first song—despite the fact he’d never taken a guitar lesson and had owned the instrument less than a day. He pledged that he would not get up until both the bottle and the song were complete. The next day he woke up with a ghastly hangover and pages of illegible scribbles that vaguely resembled lyrics. Eight months later, he released his first EP.”

You can download ‘Just Take It’ from Bandcamp for the reasonable price of $5CAD. I have no idea how that translates into Euro, Sterling or whatever currency you use, but it seems like a fair price all the same.

Why Skyfall Is Not A Good Film

With Bond reaching the ripe ole age of fifty this year, something special was needed to mark the landmark occasion. And taking both the critical acclaim and the box office success into account, it seems that 007 may have thrown the party of the year with Skyfall. But in this stellar year for ‘films longest running franchise’ is this really the best they could come up with?

Skyfall opens right in the action with Bond doing his thing, which we all know at this stage involves tearing up some exotic city while shooting at ‘bad guys’. And of course we cannot forget the absurd car chase. Or car/bike/train/mechanical digger, chase. The opening scene looks and feels like a 007 video game and when James Bond, do I really need to warn you about spoilers at this stage,  takes a premature tumble I almost expected  a ‘Game Over’ logo to appear on screen.

Bond may have survived getting shot, falling off a bridge and being dragged under water for the entire duration of Adele’s quiet impressive theme tune. But the film does not get off as lightly and from this point on begins its slow and agonising death. The script, in parts, is unbearable and the dialogue between characters is painfully monotonous. Javier Bardem is a great actor who tries in vain to rescue his bluntly crafted character (Mr Silva) from falling into the obvious Joker-esque role. But unfortunately he is not properly utilized and remains nothing more than a potentially good Bond villain.

With Skyfall marking Judi Dench’ seventh outing as the maternal spymaster ‘M’, it was only fair that she would occupy a more central role. She is so involved, that she ends up filling the role of Bond Girl. But of course she is not credited in this role, the honour of which falls to Bérénice Marlohe. Her 30 seconds of fame sees her head used as a coaster and not much else really.

But Skyfall does have its redeeming moments. A certain scene with an unmistakable Bond Veteran is the saving grace of the entire film. Ralph Fiennes also does well in his role of ‘M’ in waiting. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is also impressive but seemed over-lavish in parts which may have been down to fact that he was constantly trying to disguise the overall lack of a substantial plot.

I really wanted to enjoy this film. But unfortunately I just couldn’t. Skyfall lacked the overall ‘Bond Edge’ and rather than playing out as an epic it was noticeably long and arduously boring. Sam Mendes showed us a glimpse of ‘OAP Bond’ and provides a stark warning that even superheroes can grow old. But as the titles promised ‘Bond Will Be Back’, and with new fresher versions of Q, M and Ms Moneypenny it seems the future of the franchise is all but guaranteed for the next 50 years to come.

Pop Songs I Don’t Hate

I wanted to call this post ‘Pop songs I can mildly tolerate without losing the will to live and wishing I had a hot poker to drive into my ears so the last thing I didn’t hear as I left this world was the sound of that ghastly song’. But It was just a bit too long for the title section and also might have been a bit extreme.  So instead I opted for pop songs I don’t hate. It seems a little less psychotic. This section, well assuming that it grows into a section, will be a place where I feature popular songs or over-hyped artists who fill me with the tiniest bit of faith in modern pop music.

For the first week I have decided to go with the new one from Bruno Mars. You know that one which everyone keeps saying sounds like an old Police song. I have my issues with Mars (The singer, not the planet). I don’t rate him too highly if I’m to be honest. He’s a man who goes through phases of ripping off other artists musical style. James Brown, need I say anymore. And now it seems that he has cast his beady eyes on to The Police (once again to clarify, I am talking about the band). And this is the only reason why I am paying him any attention. His selection was entirely by default. Why you ask, well I hope you ask, seeing as I cannot hear you (excuse the pun) I will automatically assume
that you are.

The only reason I picked this song is because well if the police were to come back, deflate stings huge ego and release this song, I would love it. I have always believed that a song should be judged separately from the singer. And so this is why you may also find yourself listening to Bruno Mars on my blog.

I probably shouldn’t say anymore in case I talk myself out of posting this. So here goes nothing. I’m posting a pop song on my blog. Should anything go wrong I would just like to thank all my followers and readers. Without you this blog would be pointless.

But wait, there’s more. It wouldn’t be fair unless I offered an alternative right? I’ll let you decide which is better. If, like me, you prefer the second one then please feel free to leave a comment. However if you find yourself going with the first one then please keep your opinions to yourself (of course I am joking, all opinions are welcome, even wrong ones)

Ireland: The slave capital of Europe

The Black Stuff
The Black Stuff

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.

(www.jobbridge.ie)

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.

(www.welfare.ie)

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.

(www.independent.ie)

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.

Mumford and Sons – Babel

Mumford and Sons have done well over the years to forge a solid and comfortable throne for themselves. As the undisputed kings of modern day folk, they have brought the humble genre to new heights. With their previous musical offering, Sigh No More, reaching Quadruple Platinum success and their new album, Babel, looking very likely to surpass this, it’s fair to say that the Londoners have brought folk music to the masses. But have they brought the masses to folk?

Babel has already seen staggering success and propelled the band to the top of the album charts with the UK’s fastest selling album of the year so far. The reasons for this however may not be entirely or even remotely down to the music. It seems more likely that this surge in sales was triggered by the guilt of missing out on the debut album and a determination not to overlook the next. Musically, Babel offers up an irksome and insipid selection of tracks, the prime example coming in the form of their newest single ‘I Will Wait’. With the precision and subtlety of a sledgehammer it marks the bands slow and steady slip into the mires of pop.

But it isn’t all bad, don’t get me wrong. The title track, ‘Babel’, is fierce and embodies all the elements we’ve come to associate with Mumford and Son’s energetic live performances.  ‘Lovers Eyes’ is a timeless classic and true showcase of the bands ingenious talent. Other nostalgic fragments come in the form of ‘Not With Haste’ and ‘Holland Road’. But unfortunately great tracks are few and far between on this album. The search for which will have listeners feeling like a ‘truffle pig’ in search of rare and precious musical delights.