We are finally able to unveil our shiny new website to all you good people. Head over to www.cockandbulltv.com and take a whiff of that new website smell before it fades away. You can also see some new videos from Forbidden Fruit Festival including interviews and performances from Wild Beasts and the almighty Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips!

The new site will be the home to our blog from now on so while we’re sad to be leaving this lovely little site behind we’re really excited about the new one. It’s a real step up in quality and a marker of how far we’ve come in the past year. So make sure you check it out! NOW!

Check out some of Laura Nolan‘s snaps from the second night of the Dublin Camden Crawl, featuring Ghostpoet and the Rubberbandits.

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Our second review of last weekend’s inaugural Dublin Camden Crawl comes from our regular contributor Louise Bruton.

This was the first year of the Dublin Camden Crawl and even though venues like Twisted Pepper and The Grand Social were more than a brisk walk away from Camden Street, it was great to have our little city being taken advantage of in this
way.

Bands from every corner of the isle and further afield had us zig-zagging from D1 to D2 quicker than a granny that’s late for mass. With great expectations, I had initially drawn up a must-see list of 6 or 7 bands each day but with the distractions of pints, running into mates en route and pit-stops at deli counters (props to the staff of Spar on Dame Street) and queues that formed very promptly outside of venues, it was rather difficult to fit it all in. However, the bands that I did see over the two days put on such raucously good shows that for any failures on my behalf or clashing timetables, they certainly made up for it.

Day One
First on the agenda were those rascals, Wounds and their very special guests, the heads of two dead pigs. Yes, you read that right. The swine heads were thrown about Twisted Pepper by frontman Aidan and his guitarist brother, James. Live,
this band do not give a flying effigy about their safety and it definitely kicked the festival off with a bang – so much so that the set was cut short due to a busted bass. Hardcore behaviour.

There was a stark difference between their show and the gentle synth-pop from Cork band, Young Wonder in The Grand Social. Rachel Koeman’s enchanting Cork-tinted vocals were nothing short of dreamlike. This, of course, was aided by her Tiger Lily-inspired Indian headdress.

This sojourn of calm was then rudely awakened by the always incredible And So I Watch You From Afar. Their set induced an absolute sweat-fest in the Button Factory. The now three-piece pulled a set that caused just enough ruckus to inspire divilment but not enough to cause institutionalisation.

As the evening turned into night, the queues became a challenge. This was not helped by the brimmed-to-capacity We Are Scientists gig in The Village. Many punters were turned away from those doors and in turn, Lethal Dialect ended up
with a crowd of new fans next door in Whelan’s. The Blanch-based rapper, aided by his entourage, delivered a show which definitely earned his title as ‘one to watch’ this year.

 

Day Two
With aims to hit a bigger band count this day, I had a strictness that only a Catholic school teacher could possess. Alarmist in The Village were the first stop of the day. They drilled out the well-known tracks from their debut EP within an inch of perfection and teased us with a couple of new tracks which would hint at something bigger from the quartet later this year.

Fionn Regan was the next act of my schedule but seen as he took 35 minutes to get onstage on an already delayed running order in Whelan’s, I could only sample one fifth of a song before I had to peg it for Mystery Jets in The Button Factory. They managed to whip out the big hits from each of their albums and the finishing number, ‘Flakes’, saw the majority of the giddy and mostly adoring crowd linking arms and singing along with its oh, so easy cho-oh-oh-oh-oh-rus.

Now, while my sternness with getting to venues on time was in tact, I did not realise that other schnakes would also have that plan. The queues outside of The Twisted Pepper and The Grand Social were extortionate so I had to cut my three
last remaining acts down to one and that lucky champ was Toby Kaar in The Workman’s Club. The second Cork act of the weekend and the final act of mine and, Toby, I am so glad I ended it with you. My ears were left ringing for approximately 12 hours after this set. The energy from the crowd was ecstatic and he delivered more than his fair share of tunes to erase any memories of long queues and delayed sets of the rest of the weekend.

You can follow Louise on Twitter at @luberachi, and check out her blog Not Very Wise.

Check out some of Laura Nolan‘s snaps from the first night of the Dublin Camden Crawl, featuring Jape, And So I Watch You From Afar and We Are Scientists.

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It’s Friday, it’s 8 PM and the Village is heaving. No ordinary occurrence but then tonight is no ordinary night. Richie Egan of Jape is on stage as part of the Camden Crawl, an imported concept from London to Dublin. Given the prevailing economic circumstances (there’s recession on you know) it’s probably the only import going in that direction right now but it’s like the good old days of the Celtic Tiger never left, as the excesses of a Saturday seem to be in evidence on the day the lord set aside for chilling out.

Richie isn’t a man to fail to rise to the occasion, with the inevitable ‘Floating’ transformed from laid back ditty to powerhouse dance anthem. Disappointingly, many people, including eh, me, make for the exit when that song finishes, leaving the rest to enjoy ‘Ocean of Frequency’ from last year’s album of the same name.

I head down the stairs, out the door and into Whelan’s, right into the sonic assault of the Bambir, who are apparently the house band on Friday nights. This was ironic in the extreme, given the organisers purposefully kept the schedule under wraps for as long as possible to encourage spontaneity and discovery. Speaking only for myself, the one new band I managed to discover ended up being completely unconnected to the festival itself.

And what a band; their off beat time signatures and noodling guitars recalling prog-rock at it’s best, like Mahavisnu without the navel gazing, topped off with the type of flute work that would do Ron Burgundy proud. Their impressive sound lead to me making a real lemon of myself on Twitter, asking for info on them which was far more easily gleaned by just asking someone. There might be an app for that yet.

My timing already off by showing up late for Jape, I had a vague notion I’d catch a bit of the Ambience Affair, a notion quickly squashed as I headed up the stair to see two thirds of the band come the opposite direction. Woops.

At this stage it was getting close to stage time for And So I Watch You From Afar (hereafter known by the acronym ASIWYFA and various superlatives) in the Button Factory. The venue seemed less than half full when I got there but I needn’t have worried as the Belfast quartet quickly filled the remaining space with noise.

They went even further than just filling in the space between people and seemed determined to fill mouths, ears and chest cavities with pure noisy joy. I said to one fellow gig goer that I felt strange; having gone to “gigs like this” since I was 15 but never having seen this sort of crowd, an eclectic mix of revellers rather than heavily tattooed types,
enjoy music like that.

But of course with all due deference to the likes of Converge or Dillinger Escape Plan, the gigs which I readily associated with them, ASIWYFA are a band apart from whatever you choose to lump them in with. The instrumental band with the sing along anthems; the guitar musos who never have the audience anything less then 100% engaged as on the shout along refrain to ’7 Billion People Alive All At Once’.

The set reaches a climax on ‘The Voiceless’ with Rory and Niall taking to the audience and creating an impromptu sit down in the middle of the dancefloor. As the song builds towards its epic conclusion everyone rises up, until there is a heaving mass of people with no demarcation between band and audience.

It was always going to be tough for the Dublin Gospel Choir to top that, given their usual exposure to this type of audience is in a field in Laois on a Sunday morning, but I was unable to find out, having departed on the high of ASIWYFA.

You can follow Lee Daly on Twitter at @LeeDalyIre

Photos by Luke Byrne.

You have certain friends that when you agree to a night out with them, you are signing yourself into having a great time. You do serious damage to yourself all in the name of a good time. YACHT are that friend and in the Workman’s Club one fine Thursday, a few hundred people signed on to having a hootenanny of a night.

They came on late, ten past the eleven to be exact, so all notions of getting the last bus home went out the window as soon as the first notes of ‘Paradise Engineering’ began. By the second song, frontman Jona Bechtolt was submerged in the crowd, lapping up the frenzy that was created. The onstage synergy between Jona and his ten-foot-tall leading lady, Claire L. Evans, is electric. Like the biscuit and fondant of an Oreo, they work perfectly individually but, combined, they are deliciously complete.

With the realisation that cash would be spent on taxis home and the fact that when YACHT were last meant to visit Dublin two years ago, ash from a pesky Icelandic volcano got in the way, both the crowd and the band wanted to earn this night and, by dad, we did. ‘Psychic City’, ‘Dystopia’ and ‘Love In The Dark’ got the biggest reactions in what the band christened the “Temporary Autonomous Zone” (T.A.Z), where anything could happen and it felt as if we could orbit off into YACHT’s magical world at any moment.

Support came from Catscars, whose live show has really improved in the last twelve months, and the always bleedin’ deadly Tieranniesaur. The ‘saur pulled a blinder of a set and you should cut out the basics from your life – bread, butter and Bavaria – just so you can afford a ticket for their next gig.

Live, YACHT are mad. Their reality is what I want to have for breakfast. I had just over an hour of experiencing their twisted reality and it is exhausting and exhilarating at once. They taught us a valuable lesson in merriment. In fact, all colleges and schools should employ them to teach the foundations of fun. They bent over backwards, literally, to put on a show for us and if the beads of sweat on our collective foreheads weren’t grateful enough, let me say now – thank you YACHT for being so spectacular and giving us a gig unlike any other.

Louise Bruton
Contributor

You can follow Louise on Twitter at @luberachi, or check our her blog Not Very Wise.

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We sent Alan Moore of Audio/Aperture to the Button Factory on Saturday to catch Russian Circles destroying the gaff with some serious tunes. Check out the snaps below.

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The Magnetic Fields are one of those bands that elicit devotion from their more loyal fanbase; twenty years into their career, they have never really troubled the mainstream but have consistently released interesting records, most notably their three volume classic 69 Love Songs, and the following “no-synth” trilogy of albums. The theatrical surrounding of The Olympia is the setting for tonight’s show, an all-seated but far from sold out affair. The support slot is filled by Dublin’s Yossarian Lives, who I forsook my pint in the bar to watch. The band play folky pop numbers lyrically not far from the headliners witty styling’s, and claim to have nabbed a number 47 slot in the Croatian electro-folk-pop charts, a fact which I choose to believe. The audience is politely responsive as the band play, but the clearly audible chatter floating up to the upper circle from below says it all.

The stage is unadorned for The Magnetic Fields – just the instruments and an assortment of unmatched chairs and bar stools, an arrangement Frasier Crane might call ‘eclectic’. We are firstly regaled with the story of Merritt’s previous visit to Dublin where he contracted food poisoning and enlisted the help of the notorious rock doc to make him gig-fit. This time around Merritt, and the band, are in fine form, joking their way through a lengthy set of stripped back, acoustically formed numbers. Songs from their new Love At The Bottom Of The Sea album get an airing, for me working better in this format than they do on wax, as well as favourites from their back catalogue. The barbed lyricism of tracks like ‘Your Girlfriend’s Face’ and ‘My Husband’s Pied-A-Terre’ are contrasted with the sweetness of those like ‘Come Back To San Francisco’ and a fantastic ukulele-led version of ‘All My Little Words’ with each instrumental layer ringing crystal clear in the venue.

For the most part it’s a laid back night; the gig never really gets out of first gear, but the all-seated audience seem quite happy to sit back and take in the frequent anecdotes and amusing banter, particularly the repartee between Merritt and pianist Claudia Gonson. The three vocalists however keep things interesting, with the cello of Sam Davol providing a solid foundation in lieu of percussion, and Merritt chipping in on a kazoo every now and then. Numbers are rolled out with ease as Gonson cracks wise before each one, and a relaxed version of ‘Quick’ from the new album works well in this less spritely form. Throughout there is frequent audience laughter between and during the songs, particularly for ‘Andrew In Drag’, as Merritt’s clever lyrics fall on a room of appreciative ears.

Just as it may seem that the gig is somewhat of a workman-like endeavour, the band then pull something magical out of the bag with an astonishing bare-bones version of ‘The Book Of Love’ that brings the venue to a dead silence; a special moment that turns a good gig into a memorable event. The two female vocalists exit the stage leaving Merritt to sing the final number ‘Smile! No-one Cares How You Feel’, before returning and name-dropping Alan Cumming many a time. An encore of ‘All My Little Words’ and Forever And A Day’ round off a gig that sparkled in places, performed with ease by a band whose company was a gentle Saturday night treat.

Justin McDaid
Contributor

Lower Dens formed in 2009 around the axis of front woman Jana Hunter, the classically trained violinist and guitarist familiar to followers of the so-called ‘freak-folk’ scene, around whose fringes she skirted with its leading light Devandra Banhart. The band’s 2010 debut Twin Hand Movement was well received, an atmospheric odyssey built around guitars and swathed vocals, and with Nootropics (no-eh-tro-pics) they have taken this a step farther. This is an album where sounds veer from industrial confusion to dreamy ascension, and where the lyrics – often barely perceptible, yet exuding emotion – are wrapped up in vocals that constitute yet another melodic layer.

The album title is apparently a reference to the use of certain drugs and technologies to enhance human brain functions, keeping in line with Hunter’s fascination with becoming a more optimally functioning soft machine. And here, where synth lines and precise percussion collide and merge together, an often-times clinical and dehumanized noise collage is effectively neutralised by the more organic guitar sounds and Hunter’s ethereal vocal.

The syncopated drum intro and synth of ‘Alphabet Song’ begins the album in just this way, and the song lifts off when the contrasting bassline kicks in. These two rhythms pull in different directions before a sparse, echoing guitar joins the rolling pattern and all these distinct layers of sound build, disparate rhythms that shouldn’t gel but somehow slot together. This contradiction of sound is evident again in ‘Lamb’ where percussive jolts punctuate the mellow pulse of the song, before it casts them off and erupts into a beautiful vocal section. Over the hard, dark beat of ‘Candy’ Hunter advises “Find cover / Somewhere to hide / Dig up the earth and crawl inside” while a scream-like guitar wails in the background. While it may be tempting to slap a dream-pop tag on Lower Dens, some of the sounds on this record seem more like the stuff of feverish dreams.

‘Lion in Winter Pt. 1’ begins ominously, a seemingly structure-less soundscape moving through various opaque themes. It disappears from sight only to re-emerge for a brief moment as if freshly awoken and shaking free from a nightmare to lead into ‘…Pt.2’, an altogether different beast; shadowy and playful, powered by a pulsing synth. The vocal phrases though are the album’s crowning triumph, from the glorious ‘Nova Anthem’ to the rich hazed vocals of ‘Propagation’, whose swirling layers float over a laid-back bassline.

‘Brains’ is a number redolent of Brighton band Electrelane, driven along by a no-nonsense bass drum and an effective build-up, and there is a small but perceptible surge to the pleasure centre in the brain as Hunter starts to sing “Don’t be afraid…” at the song’s coda. It runs directly into ‘Stem’, where things take a slight, subtle upward gear shift and a louche guitar casts itself over the synth line, the song itself almost an extended coda to ‘Brains’.

The idea of transhumanism espoused by the band and the album title is most overtly executed with the industrial twelve minute closer ‘In The End Is The Beginning.’ Hunter sings “At the end of the world / There’s no-one waiting / For you / In the beginning / There was light / But now it’s dark outside.” A jarring guitar interjects -“I feel different now / than I did before” and that guitar is back again. This epic is filled with unsettling sounds and a final, intoning vocal embellished by
sporadic cymbal washes. All of these elements combine to reveal a song not just about rebirth and transformation, but a grander still apotheosis. Lower Dens have pulled together a dense collection of sounds, creating chaos from order and vice-versa, but with Hunter’s vocal there to elevate proceedings, Nootropics frequently delivers texture and warmth in spades.

Justin McDaid
Contributor

You can stream Nootropics now over on the NPR website.

I love that stage in a boy’s life when he becomes a man. Before you get the wrong idea and accuse me of being a kiddy-fiddling pervert, I am referring to the stage when a lad realises that a ponytail or jocking about does not a man make. But it is an acceptance of being who you are and being grand with it. This is what Mystery Jets‘ latest album, Radlands, embodies, except they’ve skipped man and went right for old man.

The dapper Blaine Harrison and co. appear to be paying homage to icons like Bruce Springsteen (I doubt the album title is a mistake), The Eagles and David Bowie – listen to the Jets’ ‘The Hale Bop’ and try to fight humming ‘Golden Years’. Previous Mystery Jets albums celebrated youth, most notably their 2008 album, Twenty One, with songs like ‘Young Love’, ‘Flakes’ and ‘Two Doors Down’. Unfortunately, in their attempt to provide a mature cheddar sound, they have lost half a spark of what it was that made them so special – that starry-eyed, wondrous approach to the pining hearts of failed and fragmented romances. Back then, their music was the music to bop aimlessly to on the dancefloor and throw shapes for a fleeting shift with a hottie.

In ‘Greatest Hits’, they reference The Kinks, Mark E. Smith, Wings and Minutemen. They question serious-face topics like life and existence in ‘The Nothing’ and religion in ‘Sister Everett’. The love duet, ‘Where The Roses Grow’, with Sophie-Rose Harper is a bluesy, country-twanged ditty. It’s very “let’s just have one glass of wine with a nice roast beef and lament the past and politics”.

Nobody wants to admit that they are less able to act the git repeatedly on nights out but the Mystery Jets have not only admitted it but have heralded it in song. Many bands of their vintage have reached their manhood point. With Arctic Monkeys, frontman Alex Turner has reinvented himself as an Anglo-Josh Homme and even Patrick Wolf has found blasted happiness. We all grow up (Andrew WK is the sole exception to this rule) and that’s a fact but we use some bands as an escape from this dire and depressing fact.

As negative as all this sounds, it is still a good album. The Jets have not pigeon-holed themselves as indie darlings but are admirably changing up their signature resonance. There’s nothing worse than aul fellas lepping about like they’re still 19, ahem Blink 182, but when you are still relatively young, Mystery Jets, please, embrace it.

My hesitance to Radlands is my hesitance to aging. It is my immaturity that has me reaching for Twenty One over Radlands. Some day, I will be ready to absorb their sagely sounds but for now, I will remain throwing shapes for the shift until I retire to Friday nights in drinking port, the perfect setting for this album.

Louise Bruton
Contributor

You can follow Louise on Twitter at @luberachi or read more from her on her blog Not Very Wise. Radlands is streaming now over on the NME website.

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