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Thursday, 21 September 2017

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community - Part 2

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community - Part 2

I woke up the next morning after writing the first part of this post and realised that there were at LEAST three or four gigs from the eighties that I had omitted that really couldn't be omitted. So my plan to do the next post from the 90's onwards is being parked while I do a further return to the eighties.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community

In Concert - Favourite Gigs of Ireland's Music Community

This book came out last year and I've been meaning to get it ever since. I finally got around to buying it this week and am enjoying dipping into it.

I remember when I was younger there were many conversations about who would win if Ali fought Dempsey, or if Superman fought Batman... The very fact that these were unanswerable questions was what made them interesting.

Best gig is one of those questions. I can't really answer it for myself let alone hope to come to a consensus with any group of people. The other question is what gig would I go to if I could travel through time? This book asks people to name their favourite gigs and provides ample material for me to consider when I think upon these things.

I know some of the contributors and was at some of the gigs. The book is probably mostly of interest to people who have some familiarity with the Irish rock scene of the seventies, eighties and nineties. It brings up feelings of envy, nostalgia and sometimes, bafflement. Rather than try to review it in any objective way I am going to spend some time reminiscing about some of my favourite gigs. A infamous pub bore like myself doesn't do one favourite, this will be many favourites.


Sunday, 4 June 2017

From a Box of Cassettes


From a Box of Cassettes

I'm returning once more to the dusty corner of the world which is this blog to share something from the dusty corner of the accumulated mess of things that I have gathered over the past fifty years.

At our last rehearsal the band (The Knocking Shop) were trying to put together one of our old songs from twenty years ago with a poor live recording as the guide. When Dave, the guitar player, told me a couple of days later that he had a better recording on cassette, plus some other 'forgotten' songs I decided to go through my own pile of cassettes with a bit more rigour. And I was rewarded with a copy of what was a work in progress towards a third demo.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Top 102 Albums, No Minus 18 - No Such Place

Top 102 Albums, No. Minus 18 - No Such Place

No Such Place - Jim White

In the early 21st Century this was the album that dominated my listening more than anything else and while it has never left my playlist I haven't listened with quite such intensity until these last few days as I prepare to see Mr White play live for the first time.

I have previously written about White as a filmmaker - his documentary, Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus is a trawl through the south of Harry Crews, Flannery O'Connor, Raptures, Snakes and Mr White.

I've been searching for the right word to describe him and I keep coming back to fatalist. There is a richly humorous and life affirming fatalism that permeates these songs. Life may be bad, you may be at an all time low, but hell, it could always be worse, as in the opening song, Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi:

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Top 102 Albums, No Minus 17 - Teens of Denial

Top 102 Albums, No. Minus 17
Teens of Denial - Car Seat Headrest

"I am freaking out in my mind / In a house that isn't mine
My end goal isn't clear / Should not have had that last beer"

Sometimes age feels like a fog. Everything becomes less distinct, and those things that are distinctive are often only so because they are aided and abetted by memory / nostalgia for eyes that were less cynical and more full of the pulsing expectations of youth.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Live Tonight! The Re-Animation of The Knocking Shop continues.

Live Tonight! The Re-Animation of The Knocking Shop continues.

The Knocking Shop are supporting the rather wonderful Mik Artistik's Ego Trip tonight in The Grand Social in Dublin City Centre. There are worse ways of spending your Friday night and all for a measly €12!

We'll be dedicating this one to President Trump!

Books Read 2016 - Part One

Books Read 2016 - Part One

2016, despite being a bitch of a year for heroes and an ominous year for politics, has been a pretty good year for reading, even if my blogging muscles have largely withered away.  I started this post on December 31st in order to try and have one final post before the years end and to clear the decks somewhat for 2017, when I hope to get back to writing a little more regularly. However, it has since been sucked into the purgatory known as the 'draft' folder.

Rather than group my reading as many have done, or select my favourites I thought it might be interesting/easier just to list the books in the order I read them and add whatever few thoughts (if any) come to mind as I go through them.
 Perhaps when I get to the end I will highlight a few as my 'Best Books of 2017", but really I see all as part of the same book somehow, a larger sprawling multi-referential, oddly interlinked, post-modernist roman fleuve.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Rossmore Road


Rossmore Road - Barry Andrews

"White and yellow lines and street signs"

A love song to a song.


Saturday, 27 August 2016

LIVE!! TONIGHT!!

LIVE!! TONIGHT!!

This blog and the blogosphere in general has suffered some neglect recently as all my focus has been on tonight's gig in The Grand Social in Dublin. Somewhat more activity may start taking place next week...

It will the first Dublin gig in twenty years for The Knocking Shop and at the moment my nerves are making it feel a bit like Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum but I'm sure it'll be a great night.

There's an event page on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/events/1045545818885717/

and you can like the band page here - https://www.facebook.com/knockingshop/

Here's one of the songs we'll be playing, taken from our comeback gig in January in London. Hope some readers will make it along..

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Knocking Shop to hit the Dublin Stage.


The Grand Social
The Knocking Shop to hit the Dublin Stage!

The revival of The Knocking Shop hits a high point with our return to the Dublin stage at The Grand Social  on August 27th

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Literary Conference & An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter


The Literary Conference (translated by Katherine Silver) & An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (translated by Chris Andrews) - by César Aira
"In my case nothing returns, everything races forward, savagely being pushed from behind by what keeps coming through that accursed valve. This image, brought to its peak of maturation in my vertiginous reflections, revealed to me the path of the solution, which I forcefully put into practice whenever I have time and feel like it. The solution is none other than the greatly overused (by me) "escape forward.""

Having started a long translated novel and lost interest as it seemed opaque to me (perhaps the original, perhaps the translation, perhaps just me) I decided that I would reread the César Aira novellas I had read and enjoyed last year but never made it to a blog post apart from a listing in my Books of the Year. This would allow me to contribute something further to SpanishLitMonth..

I started with The Literary Conference as it was the one that had left the greater trace. I had really enjoyed both books but neither had left as much of an impression as their companion in the three novella set I had purchased Ghosts. This may have a lot to do with the fact that I had posted on Ghosts. It is as if blogging has become an essential part of fully digesting a book I've read and committing it to memory.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Top 102 Albums, No Minus 16 - Suicide

Top 102 Albums, No Minus 16
Suicide - Suicide

"Frankie put the gun to his head
(Inarticulate visceral howling of demons)
Frankie's Dead"

The death of Suicide frontman Alan Vega has me listening to Suicide and remembering the key part they played in the development of my musical 'taste'. I first came across Suicide on a mixtape that was made for me when I was repeating the Leaving Certificate and which also included Patti Smith, The Velvet Underground and John Cale. I already knew The Velvets through my early Bowie obsession leading to Lou Reed and Patti Smith and John Cale I had vague intimations of. However, even if I had heard of Suicide I had not heard them and had never even imagined their pulsing, echoing, synth heavy rock 'n' roll.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Tres


Tres - Roberto Bolaño
Translated by Laura Healy

Tres is a collection of three poems by Bolaño, although two could just as easily be called prose fragments. Indeed the first 'poem' is called Prose from Autumn in Gerona and the third "section" is called A Stroll Through Literature, a title that might seem more at home in a middlebrow essay collection. The central poem is called The Neochileans and centers on a tour by a band of that name. It is a short book, despite it's 170 plus pages, as many pages contain just one short paragraph and the facing pages feature the original Spanish texts.

What is surprising (or not) is that the work fits seamlessly into Bolaño's oeuvre, and readers who have read a number of his works will find themselves again in that large reverberating echo chamber which all his books seem to exist in. Partly it is that the writer's life is stitched into his work and partly the language and the fascination with geometry. Bolaño often seems to see the relationships between characters and the effect they have on each other in terms of a geometric theorems, as if a formula could be derived of the forces pulling the characters together, or apart. The word features in the very first paragraph of Prose from Autumn in Gerona.
"A woman - I ought to say a stranger - who caresses you, teases you, is sweet with you and brings you to the edge of a precipice. There, the protagonist gasps or goes pale. As if he were inside a kaleidoscope and caught sight of the eye watching him. Colours arranging themselves in a geometry far from anything you're prepared to accept as okay. And so begins autumn, between the Oñar river and the hill of las Pederas."

Friday, 8 July 2016

But For the Lovers


But For the Lovers - Wilrido D. Nolledo
(Foreword by Robert Coover)
"You never actually bury a volcano. There's always a resurrection."

Last year I posed a question to Rise, meister of the wonderful in lieu of a field guide blog. What book by a Philippine author would he recommend? This was the book and you can read his better informed blog by clicking the link to his blog. it is a while since I read it and I could easily leave this patchy, unfinished post in my drafts folder but I have attempted to put some shape on it because I believe this novel deserves more attention. It deserves a better post but this, I hope, is better than nothing. I intend reading it again at some point in the future and maybe I can make a more coherent and considered case then.

Barring Rise's introduction this is not a novel or writer that I have encountered anywhere else, an obscurity that seems thoroughly undeserved and unfortunate. This is a sprawling; energetic; humourous; mysterious; sometime brutal; poetic book that brought to mind Kenzaburo Õe, Gravity's Rainbow, Juan Carlos Onetti and Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch, just for starters. And I haven't come across so much shapeshifting since reading Asturias, especially in the poetic, dreamlike opening section.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

August 1914


August 1914 - Barbara Tuchman
"When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one single dominant one transcending all others: disillusion. 'All the great words were cancelled out' for that generation, wrote D.H. Lawrence..."

I have decided to try and finish this draft post today as #Brexit and the centenary of the Battle of the Somme attest to it's relevance in today's world. History can be misquoted to mean anything and the density of Tuchman's research and the way she manages to enter the deluded, prejudiced and overly privileged minds who led various countries and armies in the lead up to WW1 is still redolent with lessons for today.

The name Barbara Tuchman drew me to this book more than the subject matter. I read her masterful history of the fifteenth century A Distant Mirror many years ago and it is one of those books that comes to mind when I try to compile lists of favourite books. I may well read some more of her work after this for once again she makes distant history human, compelling and full of narrative drive and compelling characters.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A Weekend With Claude


A Weekend With Claude - Beryl Bainbridge
(I read the revised 1981 issue of what was her first published novel.  The dust jacket describes it as "virtually a new book". Having not read the original I can make no comment on this.)

"With each circlet of grease I rubbed away one or more layer of romantic love and sat exposed with shiny nose and oily mouth, suburban, self-tormenting, waiting to be hurt."

I have been inspired to try to put together this post by the Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week (which ended yesterday). I participated in a previous iteration of this event in 2012 and have been gradually accumulating a number of posts on novels by Bainbridge, who has become firmly ensconced in my own personal canon over the lifetime of this blog. In it's original form A Weekend With Claude was Bainbridge's first published novel, but given that the rather brilliant Harriet Said had been written before meant this didn't dampen my expectations.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Another mix of my Favourite Songs

Another Mix of my Favourite Songs

The last time I tried to put together a list of Favourite Songs it got out of control - One; Two; Three; Four. This time I was trying to put together a Top Five but that proved impossible so I expanded the parameters. Here are five songs from: Before 1950; the 1950's; 1960's; 1970's; 1980's; 1990's and the 21st Century.

The list is totally subjective and would be different if I did it again. For a couple of the decades I had alternate lists and simply 'pinned the tail on the donkey'. But I like it and hope that you do too.




Monday, 16 May 2016

Signs Preceding The End of The World

Signs Preceding The End of The World
Yuri Herrera
(Translated by Lisa Dillman)

"The place was like a sleepwalker's bedroom: specific yet inexact, somehow unreal and yet vivid.."

The first two words of Signs are "I'm Dead" followed by a comma and qualifications that indicate that life is still present, as Makina, our heroine "flailed her feet frantically backward, each step mere inches from the sinkhole, until the precipice settled into a perfect circle and Makina was saved."

"Slippery bitch of a city, she said to herself. Always about to sink back into the cellar."

Makina will prove herself adept at keeping the ground under her feet and as tough as her imprecation to the city indicates. The city, and the world surrounding it, demands toughness to survive. It is not a cosy or trustworthy place.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Woodcutters


Woodcutters - Thomas Bernhard
(translated by David McLintock)

"For twenty years I had not wanted to know anything about the Augsbergers; for twenty years I had not seen the Augsbergers, and in these twenty years the very mention of the name Augsberger had brought on third degree nausea, I thought, sitting in the wing chair."

Finally I have got around to Thomas Bernhard, and although late to the party, the cake still tastes fresh, or should that be refreshingly stale and crusty. Woodcutters is an internal monologue blasting away in the mind of the narrator who sits in a wing chair at a party to which he wishes he had never been invited.

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of this book but now that I have found Bernhard's voice I've a feeling I'll be returning soon. If only more people would discard their Bernhard's in Charity Shops. Maybe I just don't frequent Charity Shops in the right areas. Perhaps I need to return to the capital, perhaps frequent again the bars in the cultural quarters, the openings, the awards nights, the love-ins of the loveless narcissistic creatives desperately building charlatans into paper maché colossi so they can rub shoulders with giants.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Why I no Longer Write Poetry

COW AND CALF, 1969. Louis le Brocquy 
Why I No Longer Write Poetry

I live for nonsense
and die by the truth
Pulling my ego
Out by the root

Scratches in pencil
Scratches in pain
I watch the words
Dissolve in the rain

I watch and grow weary
Of words and their thrust
Speeches and self-importance
Republics of dust

The bellow of a wounded cow
the screeching of a wren
Old patterns returning
Still meaningless

AMEN