The FREQUENCY-IRELAND Music Alternative

An independent voice on choice sounds from the alternative/underground music scene in Ireland.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


An album that has already been championed by many in the music press as one of the highlights of the year thus far, White Wonder is a treasure trove of fuzzed up melodies and infectious indie-rock. Armed with propulsive electronic beats and synth pop sounds it has all the ingredients of a solid album, and well-balanced one.

As with the highly acclaimed Stay Loose début from 2006, there is influence of Grandaddy, a touch of Sebadoh, and to a lesser extent Sparklehorse, that can be heard at various moments throughout. It's often said though, that it is a mistake to make the same album twice, and with White Wonder, bookended by the electronic beats of the White Wonder Theme, we do have an album of notable differences.

Not only does the album take on a propulsion all of its own, most notably in the Grandaddy-esque chorus of All The Elders, Ciaran Smith has also matured as a songwriter on it, and with frequent nods to themes of lost direction often delicately put, 'sometimes tired eyes just can't see clearly', the album could be considered a quaint concept album - a concept of which we had a foretaste of course with the single which preceded the album release, Lost In The Forest. Although many of the beautiful mistakes of Stay Loose are absent in White Wonder, a few more purposeful moments ensure that the album is still full of surprises, such as where the lazily warm exit song in We Sleep culminates in some crowning fuzzed up moments before it tails off back to those same electronica beats of the intro. 10/10.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

United Bible Studies - Black Colcannon

As a musical collective in the truest sense of the word, United Bible Studies are not quite like any other band on the local alternative music scene. Members come and go, the music is fluid and freeform, the results are beguiling and enchanting. Black Colcannon, released in February of this year on Deserted Village, captures three such sessions by the band on one limited edition release.

Dealing with the release in three live takes, the highlight of the first is undoubtedly the forlorn folk bereftness exuded in Who Will Put Me In My Grave, warm and captivating folk and perhaps as together as the material gets. Though the making of the release lies elsewhere. Candles For Albert recorded at the now disappeared Boat Club of Limerick epitomes a haunting, enough to make the hair on the back of ones neck stand on end, as if resurrecting the ghosts of the Shannon to capture the audience in a hypnotic four minute seance. The third and final session is a 30 minute medley from The Boom Boom Room in Dublin, reaching in mid-flight a noise that screeches through a freeform psychedelic racket as it rises to bewitching intensity for the best part of 10 minutes before sinking into a sublime lullaby with Christ Is Nailed To Many Crosses. The session closes with the title track from their 2006 album, The Shore That Fears The Sea, and one wonders where the time went. Sublime, even if more than a bit directionless. 7/10.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kill Krinkle Club - The Bloody Murder Of Krinkle EP

Delicate. Dreamesque. Dark. Minimalist experimentalist electronica pop for the forgotten and lost. Call it what you will, The Bloody Murder Of Krinkle EP recently released by Kill Krinkle Club has a fairy tale sense of wonder and mystique about it. Perhaps it's the often indecipherable soft vocals of Justin Commins. Perhaps it is how Elina Bergman's compliments his. Either way, it's essential listening, and a welcome deflection into it's dream sequence electronica.

I first became familiar with Justin's vocal style back in the early days of The Star Department, all of two years ago, and since then have come to appreciate his rather unique vocal delivery. It's twee romantic but quirky and mischievous. Hard to put in a nutshell, and though different is not always good, it is here. While one can draw comparisons to the likes of Schneider TM or The Postal Service, Kill Krinkle Club are a rather different proposition. And with the complement of a fondly female vocal from Sweden, and with the use of all from clarinet to chime bars to sellotape, Kill Krinkle Club are surely going places. Krinkle better watch out. 9/10.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Russolo's Pet Project - It's Clobberin' Time!

And now it's time to bring out the fuzz... Russolo's Pet Project is the experimental side project of Northern Ireland's underground meisters of feedback,
SUPER-8. With ample material to download from the Russolo's Pet Project space on the web, it is time to indulge in the mix of material, all curiously themed with choice Marvel & DC Comics Super Hero characters. What do we make of it?

Choice material on offer include Freedom Girl (Catwoman), taking shape as a dreamesque ballad in the mould of the Velvet Underground, while Wrong (The Joker) takes on the best of the Jesus & Mary Chain circa 1991. Elsewhere, in Ben Grimm we have what Death In Vegas might come up with if they remixed a few Velvet Underground out-takes, where the backbone runs in the vein of the claustrophobic dystopia of late 90s, but the melody runs delicate and free as VU 60s. Live Wire Live Moment, another track of note, is Primal Scream putting structure to the dysfunctional Lazycame territory of William Reid. All in all, the demo material, some more recent than others, is well worth the indulgence. 8/10.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Terrordactyl EP

A noise that is next to frantic at the best of times, lampooning through melodies that hover between jagged and jive in fleeting moments, the post-rock / math-rock noise of Terrordactyl has rested under a batch of over-listened CDs for the past few months awaiting excavation. Finally taking the plunge this week, one finds the offering an interesting sonic snapshot even if more than a touch debased from the live adrenalin that Terrordactyl have in their more natural environment.

As with many bands of this genre, there is beauty in the controlled chaos, though from the onset in Hikikomori, through to Calabunga and Stingray, the output, though always threatening to explode, in the end fails to ever take flight. The largely instrumental release, brought out last November on the Organised Ideas label in Dublin, leaves one with the impression that there is constrained outburst here where it should be pulverising an audience all the way back to the Cretaceous period. Perhaps in this light it is more worthwhile to go see them live instead, as I'm sure there is a beast within Terrordactyl that is not quite captured here. 4/10.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Minus Circus - Hide & Seek EP

02.10.07. The Sugar Club. Dublin. Although it was the launch gig for their Hide & Seek EP, the gig would be remembered as a farewell gig, for Gerry Scullion of Minus Circus was soon to pass through the departure gates. Australia beckoned.

Six months on, Dublin's loss is Sydney's gain, as Minus Circus frequent its venues instead, with wordsworth Gerry Scullion's fusion of acoustic rock into that indie rock format - the same core found in REM and Wilco on through to The Blue Nile.
Hide & Seek is a welcome reminder to those of us who miss the presence of Minus Circus on the local scene, of what makes it all that bit special.

In Good Soul/Bad Soul, which had also featured on the self-titled 2006 EP release, Gerry digs deep to explore his struggle with the darker side of his psyche, and sets the tone for an EP that refuses to sit too comfortably with the listener. In Revolve we have a vibrant pop-leaning track that enthuses in a bitter-sweet twist to an end of a relationship, while we are treated to a soft ballad in Hide & Seek, the title track of the EP, where the analogy to childhood is used to capture the struggle through the years of finding a soul mate. Rounding off the EP, an anthemic track in Hold On Tightly, echos the sounds of a broken man looking to find a new way forward.

It is altogether an engrossing EP well worth the attention of those who appreciate the merits of accessible indie-rock with a lyrical edge. In one of the tracks Gerry questions 'What's left to write that hasn't been written before, we've all lost a love and I think we know the score'. Fortunately, he always finds a new way to put it out there 'sometimes I look and stare right to the stars, I don't believe at all that all of mankind are from Mars'. With an album currently in the works, perhaps we will see Gerry return from exile with Minus Circus on its completion. 9/10.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


At first there were Towers and Timeclocks. The fuzz tone on, the noise loud and hard hitting, the voice heartfelt and emotional. Taking form from the post-punk of Gang of Four, a rock in the mould of Idlewild, and some of the sensitive lyrical meandering of The Cure, Echo Lawrence as they are now known set out with the lofty and admirable aim of becoming their own favourite band. They are cetainly going about it the right way.

A recent stint at home recordings over the holy weekend, sidestepping prayer for the benefit of music, Echo Lawrence have produced six songs from their current setlist which purportly retain all the energy of their live performances. Demo material of particular note now available online includes not just a sublime delivery of The Letter, but also the impressive harder hitting tracks of Into The Blue and Red Blink, while ballad My Lady In Blue touches through all the right spots without ever overstating itself. A band not to rest on their laurels, they are already continuing to work on further new material in preparation for some recording studio time in May, and one gets the impression that we will be hearing a lot more from Echo Lawrence as the year pans out for them. They can be caught live next at Eamon Dorans in Dublin on May 18th as part of the Garageland Showcase gigs. 8.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


Another assailment of angst and aggression from Dublin's favourite freaks of the underground, The Things' Tiger EP contains three ultra-primitive, garage rock stompers in the shape of Tiger, Voodoo Spells and Lungs. As a limited edition taster for the as yet untitled début album which is now due for release this spring, signs are promising for what could be a milestone psychotic stomper in the mill.

After arising from the dreggs of Dublin's low society back in 2002, The Things have since established themselves as a cult band in their own right as one with a rabid despotism and few peers. The term 'Cult Band' is usually reserved for commercially unsuccessful acts who curry favour with the underground masses but fail to hit the nail on the head in terms of Album Sales, though in the case of The Things, it is a case of not yet putting out that album to test the water. Despite the fact that they've yet to release that long awaited début album, their live shows, backed by a couple of limited edition vinyl releases, have placed them firmly in the shadows of notoriety, with a passionate and ever growing fan base in Europe and around the U.S. Inspired by outsider Rock N'Roll in the shape of The Cramps, The Damned, The Stooges and The Misfits, their Hammer Horror smeared venom has unleashed on us an infested angst ridden core with a dark underbelly of depravity.

Although this Tiger is jammed out to near military precision, the EP marches as close to a live experience that can be captured to vinyl. An EP released on their own Psycho Sound Records label, TIGER is limited to 500 copies vinyl, but also available as an itunes download. Hitting stores this March 28th, this is yet another testimony to all that is vibrant about the alternative/underground scene in Ireland today. One awaits their début album with unabated trepidation. 10/10.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lines Drawing Circles - Lines Drawing Circles EP

3 guys. 1 girl. She's French. They're not. A curious synopsis included with the release advertises in brief a multicultural aspect that is now part and parcel of the band. I am dealing with the début EP from Lines Drawing Circles, a band which formed in late 2007 from the ashes of Dublin indie-rock act Cry Yuma. The question is, with the French connection, and a fresh start, do we like them now?

The EP is certainly a step forward from their Cry Yuma days. Creating a sound that is not unlike a mixture of Nada Surf, The Shins and Radiohead, they describe their sound now as progressive pop with a fondness for noise, and one can certainly appreciate both the noise favour and the looser structure within the material now. In parts we can even hear subtle leanings into the circles of Good Morning Spider and the genius of Mark Linkous, in second track, simply titled '108'. Undoubtedly, though, the appeal of the EP will be its Radiohead leanings which manifest in both opener 'Lull' and closing track 'I Wont Let It Keep Me'. Meandering, melodic and adventurous, the three tracks give a fine taster of what may yet come from them. Recorded at Windmill Lane, the début EP which was released this March can be purchased from the band's website. Nice work... 8/10.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Having taken their legendary live show underground for almost a year, The Spikes return to show the world just how well that time has been spent. Surely their most vibrant offering to date, Hypnotised is the new single out on Thick Neck Records, and one has to now start asking, is this a band on the verge of greatness?

As with the previous three singles, again the influence of The Doors can be heard in the bass line and the confident swagger, though now out of their minds on a half a dime, the new single is more explosive than what we have come to expect. The gamble pays off, and is surely the Ace they have been threatening to pull all along.

The Dublin-based band whom had arrived here from New Zealand just a few short years ago have had many successes to date. Their début single Monster received considerable praise from the press, while the follow-up In Love No More was listed in the top 100 tracks of 2006 by Phantom FM. Their third release Ninja Girlfriend was selected by Hotpress for the Tisch Video production by the Tisch School New York. With a naturally compelling hip-swaying beat, expect this new offering from The Spikes to be as big of a hit on the indie dance floors as on the air waves. One awaits what will surely be an arresting début album. 9/10.

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