1. So Cow - 'Commuting' from I'm Siding With My Captors.
2. Fight Like Apes - 'Something Global' from the Something Global EP.
3. Halves - 'Medals' from the Haunt Me When I'm Drowsy EP.
4. Heathers - 'Reading in the Dark' from Here, Not There.
5. Bats - 'Atom and Eve' from the Cruel Sea Scientist EP.
6. Fight Like Apes, 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues' from the Something Global EP.
So Cow, I'm Siding With My Captors.
I found out about this guy from The Indie Hour and also from this song playing on the radio. So Cow is a guy from Galway, Ireland who started releasing music while working in South Korea teaching English (the name is a sort of bilingual Korean-English pun). And boy, is it good music. Mostly I've seen it described as lo-fi indie pop stuff, sort of like Pavement, but what hit me from hearing this song is the sort of early 90s ska-punk/pop from San Francisco; like a mix of Green Day's first two albums (this song is about girls on buses, or rather, a girl on a bus) and Operation Ivy/Common Rider (Jesse Michael's post-Op Ivy project, which sounds the closest to this than anything else I can think of). The rest of the album is just as good, if not better.
Fight Like Apes, Something Global.
Fight Like Apes, Dublin's '07 indie sensation, have been suffering from some blogger backlash in the drip-feed run-up to their first full-length album, Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion, due September 26th. 'Something Global' is the headline single for the album, and comes on a CD with their first recorded version of 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues', the Mclusky song, and a new original, 'Knucklehead'. It took a bit of adjustment, but I really do like the new sound and I enjoy every minute of this EP (not that there are many, and I would have thought this is just a single with two b-sides, but apparently not.) 'Something Global' is a self-referential introduction to a newly professionalised sound (produced in Seattle by Blood Brothers producer John Goodmanson) and it's all the better for making that statement. Any band that releases a song in 2008 that has the lines "hooks are for wimps, and choruses are for gays" are obviously doing something post-modern.
I couldn't not include 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues' here, especially since I used the original for my last best-of-the-decade punk rock tape. This is a transcendent cover, and not just a replication of the excellent live version. I've seen it said that this marks a noticeably rawer diversion from their new originals, but it's also a powerful adaptation of their new sound. There's an edge to this song that, dare I say it, isn't actually in the Mclusky original.
Halves, Haunt Me When I'm Drowsy.
Ireland already has world-class post-rock band in the form of God Is An Astronaut, but I'm liking Halves a lot at the moment. Haunt Me When I'm Drowsy is there second EP, and also their second to be contained in impressively delicate and refined packaging. This one is closed by a strip of fabric elastic, clearly visible in the picture. Mine actually broke after a week or two, but I glued it back on and it's been working fine ever since (DIY all the way!). The previous EP had a flap secured by a silk ribbon.
It's not all style over content, however, as this second EP is a clear progression of their sound. To my ears they sort of bridge a gap between Explosions in the Sky-type guitar post-rock and the more ambient Sigur Ros sound. 'Medals' is more on the latter side, while I've been keeping another opposite track for use in a joint God Is An Astronaut/Halves post. It took me a while to get into 'Medals', so it may not be the best choice for this mix, but it is the track they shot a video for. Even better is this performance of the song live at a Tower instore.
Heathers, Here, Not There
Heathers are young twins graduated this year from a certain south Dublin secondary school, immediately to embark upon a US tour to support their debut album jointly released by Florida's Plan-It-X Records and Deansgrange's Hideaway. Here, Not There is a set of anti-folk/pop songs of impressively high quality and directness. Voices (two), guitar and in this particular case, a cello. Simple.
Bats, Cruel Sea Scientist
I first saw Bats last October, playing support for the Locust. I'm pretty sure this was one of the songs that caught my attention then, a sort of Q and Not U math-rock pushed into metal overdrive. This EP was released earlier this year via the Richter Collective group which collects together a lot of the best Irish underground bands of the moment. Cruel Sea Scientist I had sort of feared would be too heavy for my (metal-phobic) tastes, and there are parts of it I prefer more to others in that respect, but it's a solid, progressive, dynamic record (reminds me of Transistor Transistor in certain parts.) Especially good for my 'hardcore for nerds' sensibility is their anti-Creationist agenda... the CD has 'A T G C', the initials of the four chemical bases of DNA, written prominently on it.