Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I know how you all love a good Venn Diagram

(click to enlarge image)

*I've a feeling some math head is gonna tell me that the center should be 'songs I love AND hate' rather than 'songs I love TO hate' but it amounts to the same thing really doesn't it! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good gigs

Here are some upcoming Dublin gigs that I think will be great. Admittedly some of them are my own gigs so I'm not exactly being unbiased here!

Every Wed in August the Concert Hall is presenting a different young jazz musician at a lunchtime concert in The John Field Room. All of them will be excellent but I'm gonna go ahead and show some favouritism to my band members:  Julien Colarossi's quartet are just back from a ridiculously well received performance at the Atina Jazz Festival in Italy and you'd be stupid to miss it. I'll be missing it because I've got a flight to catch that day: I'm stupid!

Bonnie Stewart's group Criss Cross will be playing monk inspired tunes on the 29th with a fekin deadly line up. Both gigs are a tenner.

This Monday I'll playing support for Sami Moukaddem in Whelan's with just myself Bonnie and Julien playing as a trio, which we've never done before. I'll also be singing in Sami's band with a special guest piano player.

Three day free jazz festival in Meeting House Square (free as in you don't pay for your tickets, not as in free-improv...that confuses me sometimes) whos entire premise seems to be that jazz leads to terrible sinful debauched behaviour. Can't argue with that. August 24/25/26th.

And lastly myself and the band will be preforming in The Mermaid Arts Center in Bray on September 1st as part of a double bill with Luan Parle. It'll be the last chance to see the band in it's current line up and The Mermaid is by far one of my favourite places to go see live acoustic music. I've been to so many amazing gigs there (two of my favourite were Julie Feeney and Sarah Buechi's Thali) and I'm anticipating I'll enjoy performing there as much as I've enjoyed being in the audience.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Frida Kahlo's it and listen to it over and over!

Just choose your price!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A song for a rainy grey day

Yes I know the rain is falling but it needn't be seen as such a bad thing. Take a leaf out of Tommy Moore Bands book and see the bright side:

Friday, July 6, 2012


A bit of an emotional day today.

I put the first song from the album up online, and then spent all day telling absolutely everyone I could think of to listen to it, scared I'd chicken out and take it all back: 'Haha yeah that, album?! Ha I mean it was meant to be ironic..ha..emm...of course....' cue more nervous laughter.

But I didn't chicken out, it's out there in the world now, too many people have listened to it to take it back, and I wouldn't want to anyway.

There'll be more to come of course, that's just the first of many songs. Hope you all like it and hope to see some of you tomorrow night in The Kevin Barry Room.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Secretly Suicidal Love Songs

'I'd die for you': we're so used to hearing the sentiment in pop songs we barely notice it, but when you really pay attention to it it's a wee bit worrying. At best it's manipulative and super melodramatic, at worst it's suicidal and unhinged.

Here are a few common variations on the theme:

'if you leave me I'll die''

Being broken up with is a bitch, ringing the person up and telling them you're gonna kill yourself coz they broke up with you is NOT a healthy response. You hear it so frequently in pop songs you'd think we're all running around making suicide pacts with our loved ones (I really really hope you're not doing that!).

'I can't live if living is without you'

'how do I live without you'

'I would die 4 u' (to be fair if Prince wants to write unhinged lyrics I'd buy it. He commits to it fully and doesn't just throw it in there for effect) 

'You're so great I'd die for you'

It should be pretty obvious but just a reminder: great people don't usually ask, or expect, you to die for them.

'If I could just die in your arms, I wouldn't mind'

Justin Bieber's best chat up line is that he 'WOULDN'T MIND' dying in your arms. When facing his own mortality he's...indifferent. You'd think a young lad like him would have a strong will to live but apparently not.

'I'd die for you'

'I can't live with or without you' (handily enough this one falls into both categories) 

'You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for' 

Now here's a dose of healthy reasoning after all that:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lyrics for the new bridge on Sealegs

New bridge section in bold:

Sea swells, waves fall
When you're near the sky turns grey
Then you sweep me away
In your little pea green boat
You wrap me in romance
I never hear the wind blow when you hold me close

Diving in darkness
Drowning in the pull of your tides
And then you smile
Oh I hear mermaids sing
Oh the bliss of these icy waters I'm drowning in

That look of yours gives me
To and fro stay or go tell me
How this ends
Or your love will always leave me on
These sealegs of uncertainty

I hear sirens from the street
While you sleep
Find me tangled in our sheets
Sleepwalking towards the sea
So come sweep me away
In your little pea green boat
Come wrap me in romance
Don't wanna hear the wind blow so come near
And hold me close 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hand Holding

New (ish) lyrics:

In moments of ecstasy
Lovers call each others names
One last blessing
It's a blessing
To who they were before they merged
Into this

Find me here
Find me here
Find me here
You won't find me here

Monday, April 16, 2012

'I'm the boss of me. That includes my armpits'

'I'm the boss of me. That includes my armpits'

'I will not be a prisoner of my own sweat'

Apparently this is how 'strong women' feel about deodorant. Oh how I love lady-centric advertising, It's like they took the words right out of Amelia Earheart's mouth! If Gertrude Stein wrote ad copy! (the one below has a picture of a pregnant lady next to it but didn't screen grab her in time)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lyrics in Progress - 'Show Me'

A song for two voices:
First Voice written in italics
Second Voice written in bold
When both voices share the same lyric it's written in underlined, bold italics

                                                               Show me bursting blooming               
You could show me
                                                                 Show me how the moon sings                
You could show me 
                                         Show me what it means 
You could show me
                                             Show me how to feel love

                                                               Show me morning sweetness             
You could show me
                                                                           Show me how the starlight's secrets              
You could show me 
                                          Show me what it means
You could show me
                                             Show me how to feel love

     Show me love
Show me love love love love 
           Show me love...etc. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peter Delaney Interview

A little while ago I ran a night called The Acoustic Picnic in The Back Loft and invited some of my favourite acoustic musicians and poets to come perform. It was a pretty excellent, and rather eclectic night if I may say so myself. One of the musicians I had the pleasure of sharing the small, but nicely decorated, stage with was Peter Delaney. At the end of the night we swapped CDs and I went home and listened to Duck Egg Blue on repeat for weeks and realised I had a million questions I wanted to ask him about his lyrics.

Well do you know what happens to be the best thing about having a blog? It’s the perfect excuse to ask musicians nosy questions about their music, so that’s exactly what I’ve done here;

One of the things that struck me when I was listening to you perform live, and also with the CD, was the delivery of the lyrics. The lyrics seem to be woven into the fabric of the song and it's only after a few listens, or a little while, that my ear could separate the words from the harmony. It's like at first you hear the overall colour of the songs and then the words and meanings start coming out and making themselves heard very gradually.

That’s interesting. Maybe it’s because when I’m coming up with the vocal part to a song I think more about melody and how it fits with the music rather than the words I’ll be singing. Then when I work on the lyrics I try to make them go with the melody so I suppose they can become hidden in the music and it could take a while for the words to make themselves noticed.

I was reading through the CD liner notes after listening to the CD and the thing that struck me was that a lot of the lyrics work well as written pieces independent of the songs. Do you usually start by writing or singing?

A lot of the songs have their basis in scraps of lyrics and ideas that I’ve written but I’d never have the entire lyrics written before I put them to music. When I’m working on the lyrics with the music then I try to flesh out the ideas a bit. I try to be aware that the words I’m writing are for a song and that how they are sung can have an effect on the meaning so I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to write them entirely independent of the music. I don’t always do that but I try. Having said that, sometimes some of the more interesting lyrics can just come out of nowhere when you’re rambling along with the music.

There's a real mix of very ordinary, homely everyday images (like Spiderman wallpaper in a kids bedroom, I love that line) mixed in with the fantastical in the songs. Is it an intentional mix of reality and fantasy?

I don’t think I ever really think about it in terms of reality and fantasy. The songs are definitely based on reality and real experiences but I try to look for interesting ways to describe them so maybe they can seem a bit fantastical. Other times the songs can be about very subjective experiences and the only way to approach them lyrically is with more abstract ideas and in that sense I can see how they could be seen as fantastical alright. I don’t use metaphors that often but I do like to play with ideas in a way that they take on a whole new appearance in a similar effect to metaphors and that can really blur the line between something based in reality and the subjective response to it but it’s not something I really think about.

I hold onto one rather sexist belief that boys don't listen to lyrics, but I have a feeling you might be able to prove me wrong. So go for it, who's your favourite lyricist?

Really? I know a lot of guys who listen to lyrics. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to prove you wrong though because I haven’t always really paid a lot of attention to lyrics but that’s probably because they don’t seem to be a concern for most singers you hear these days. I think people like Leonard Cohen are great lyricists but there’s not many people out there who write like that. I really like the idea of playing with language so I think I probably look more to writers than singers. I really like Vladimir Nabokov and Dylan Thomas. They both have an amazing way with language and do some crazy things with words. I also read Moby Dick recently and that has some lovely prose in it. I think Joanna Newsom is a very talented lyricist. I started listening to her around the same time I started to write the songs I play now and what really struck me was how apparent her own sensibilities are in her lyrics. She isn’t just singing a bunch of borrowed expressions or the clichés of a particular style of music but exploring things that really interest her. I think that made a big impression on me and since then I try to be even more aware of my own personal sensibilities and the things I find fascinating and not just go along with the obvious imagery or sentiments that belong to a particular genre. One of my favourite lines Joanna Newsom wrote is from her song Sawdust and Diamonds:

“I wasn’t born of a whistle, or milked from a thistle at twilight,
No; I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright.”

For more info on Peter Delaney you can visit Duck Egg Blue was re-released in 2011 by Deadslackstring Records and is available from Bandcamp. Go see him live! If you live in Limerick you’re in luck because he’s playing there soon. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lyrics in Progress - Renamed 'Same But Better'

She passed him by every morning just outside his house. On Monday he caught her name. He went home and repeated it to himself quietly over and over. On Tuesday a ribbon fell from her hair. He took it home and hid it between the pages of the encyclopedia under the letter F. It looked fantastic. On Wednesday it was foggy and he could only see her blurry silhouette. He took her smell home and kept it in a jar next to the encyclopedia. On Thursday she was looking very pale, almost translucent, but he could make out her blue eyes. He went home and painted a swatch on the opening page with her eye colour. On Friday he didn't see her pass. This probably isn't a love song:

All at once
Slow motion scene
The air she breathes
Pulse thunders under over
Lips mumble of her 'own her' 
All at once
This sun drenched scene
And her eyes are all I see...

...So I'll take them, hide them, own them
And at night when I'm alone
I can piece her back together
Same but better

She goes to speak
Oh her lips are all I see...

...So I'll take them, hide them, own them
And at night when I'm alone
I can piece her back together
Same but better

She haunts my sleep
Oh her face is all I see

All at once
A horror scene
Look closer
You'll see it breathes
Pulse thunders under over
Limbs tremble 'what's been done here'
All at once
A terror scene
And my eyes
Are all it sees

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lyrics in Progress - Patchwork Lover

A rough draft of some lyrics I'm working on at the moment. I had been calling it 'Take it, Hide it, Own it' but now I'm calling it 'Patchwork Lover':

'All at once
Slow motion scene
Boundless air
 But I can't breathe
Pulse thunders under over
Lips mumble of her 'own her' 
All at once
A sun drenched scene
And her eyes are all I see... I'll
Take them, hide them, own them
And at night when I'm alone
I'll piece her back together
Patchwork lover'

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lyrics in Progress: All the Tiny Children

Plans to start recording with my band are coming along well but for the moment, while I wait on the best drummer in the world to get back from Australia, I've been working on writing lots of new tunes so that when we do record we've got lots to choose from. So here are some lyrics in progress, they keep changing by the minute but here's the latest version;

Quiet or they'll hear you sing

Tiny feet and tiny toes
You turn your back your garden grows with
Tiny fingers through your hair
They'll find out what you've hidden there

Quiet or they'll hear you sing

verse 2
They'll open up your clam like mouth
Smell your secrets pull them out and
Sitting right there on your tongue
A salt grain where a pearl belongs