Archive for ‘Discussions’

May 1, 2013

The final Sweet Oblivion on 2XM… and Camden Crawl Dublin gigs

by sweetoblivion26


Tonight will see the last Sweet Oblivion go out on RTÉ 2XM at 11pm. It has been a hard decision to make, but for now I’ve decided to take a break from the show.

Sweet Oblivion has been going out on the digital station for almost four years, and aside from a year or two’s break I’ve been presenting a show under the Sweet Oblivion name for around 10 years, since the days of Cork Campus Radio in UCC… so it’s going to be strange not having a weekly show to make.

2XM is a fantastic resource and I was so lucky to get to play whatever I wanted, with no one telling me what I was playing was too out there, too familiar, too old or too new. It was a lot of freedom, and the station is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get into the radio game. A huge thanks has to go to Mark McCabe and all at the station for their help and support over the last four years.

I have plans to archive the old shows, in case there are people who still would like to listen to them, so I’ll keep you posted on that.


I’m turning 30 this month, and life has changed a fair bit in the past year – this is just the latest change. And yet, it comes from some quite positive reasons, like a change in job that has in many ways enriched my life in ways I didn’t expect. Along with that comes a new focus and new opportunities, and I think I need the time that the show took up to just do new things and take a breather from churning out a weekly hour of music.

It was a privilege to get to do the show, not a chore, but when I realised I wasn’t giving it 100 per cent, I knew it was time to finish up.

A huge thanks to anyone who has listened to it at any stage over the past few years. I’ll still be doing my monthly podcast with the Ticket in the Irish Times, so Irish bands are very welcome to send their music to me for that.

Camden Crawl

It’s coincidental that the last show comes just days before the Camden Crawl Dublin festival, where there will be two shows under the Sweet Oblivion name. It’s in the Stag’s Head just off Dame St, and the bands that will be playing will be low-key and really lovely.

There’s Peter Delaney, Hidden Highways, Skelocrats, Soil Creep, The Holy Roman Army and Yawning Chasm. There is so much choice at the festival, with loads of big names, so I hope that we get a decent crowd at the Stag’s Head. If you’re at the festival, why not pop in on Saturday or Sunday night for a drink and some great Irish music?

Doors are at 7pm, the first bands go on at 7.30pm. On Saturday, Skelocrats, Yawning Chasm and Hidden Highways play (in that order), and on Sunday, Peter Delaney, the Holy Roman Army and Soil Creep play.

Here’s a taster:

Peter Delaney

Hidden Highways


Holy Roman Army

Soil Creep

Yawning Chasm

Tickets for Camden Crawl Dublin, and all the info on other bands playing, is available here.

Pics by me

January 22, 2013

[Pics] Moving house

by sweetoblivion26

My mum moved house last month, out of the family home where we had lived for more than 20 years.

I took these photos during the move, feeling restless and strange about the house being emptied of everything that had meant ‘home’ since I was a child.

I’ll miss the squeaky step at the bottom of the stairs, the front door that would never shut properly unless you shoved it like you were furious with someone, the cold terracotta-coloured tiles, the kitchen walls that must bear at least five much-deliberated-over layers of paint, the strange noises that emanated from the attic at night, the weird palm tree out the back garden, the shed full of random odds and ends, the tree whose branch I used to swing from, the mossy driveway, my old bedroom, the walk from the bus stop to the house that felt shorter and less scary the older I got.

Still, to new beginnings. There will be another house I’ll love somewhere else, soon.


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January 16, 2013

HMV closure, nostalgia, memories and music

by sweetoblivion26


Photo by me

It feels like another lifetime, but in reality it has only been just over a decade since going to HMV (or Virgin Megastore, the other record store chain in Cork City when I was growing up) was a Big Thing for my peers and I (and, if you’re reading this, most likely you too) to do on a Saturday. I’ve so many memories of buying albums in there, browsing even when broke, learning about bands from friends, reading the backs of CDs to try and figure out if the album would be any good, buying singles on tape…

Today, HMV went into receivership, staff (with their families and homes and bills and lives that all depend in some way on their wages*) were told the doors to the stores were to be shut and are likely to remain so, and another nail seemed to have been hammered into the coffin containing the decaying corpse of what is known as ‘the music industry’.

Things have changed. We know that, and most of us don’t really know how things can get any better. One thing they can’t do is go back to where they were, now that the genie is out of the damned bottle and we have access to music in ways we only dreamt of 10 years ago. Had you said to me when I was 15 that when I was 25, trips to the record store could be replaced by buying records ‘off the internet’, I could choose to download album tracks instead of whole albums, and I could have any album I wanted, for free, in a few minutes, I’d have raised an over-plucked teenage eyebrow. How great does that sound?

But what has resulted from all of these changes in the way music can be sold, distributed, and accessed? An industry floundering. Had I also been told that in my 30th year, musicians would be questioning how much they are getting paid for their songs to be listened to on legal streaming sites, that independent record stores were few and far between (though, thankfully, those we do have are a joy to visit) and that the traditional model of selling and listening to music was sailing down the Swannee with just some driftwood left in its wake with which to cobble together a new model, I’d have been confused. Wouldn’t we have prepared for this?

Yes, some companies adapted and changed, but some stayed stagnant. Large music retailers wanted to – of course – keep the important position they had on the high street, and diversifying into selling books and DVDs (and even relegating the music section to the basement, as HMV on Grafton St, Dublin, did) seemed to be the answer for some. But it wasn’t enough for HMV. Or Virgin Megastores. Or Zaavi. (Or Road Records.) It seems the case that with the evolution of music consumption, no amount of diversifying could ever be enough for the larger chains in particular.

This was initially supposed to be a post about YouTube, about how stumbling across a Jeff Buckley video that I’d never seen before reminded me of the time when the only information you could get about musicians you liked was from music magazines, more knowledgeable friends or, occasionally, TV shows. We all know what has happened to music magazines, and how relevant they are to the average person. And MTV, for example, with its 24-hour rotation of reality TV shows of questionable content, isn’t the resource it once was either.

The past is a foreign country, one where the musical currency was tapes and mix-CDs, torn-out magazine articles and traded tidbits. The future of every facet of the music industry has yet to be written, but so far it is being scribbled on scraps of paper that end up getting tossed in bin.

I hope that in another 10 years we won’t have just nostalgia and rose-tinted memories to hold on to.

And yet, one small spark of hope: Vinyl sales are up


*Some HMV stores in Ireland, like the one in the Crescent in Limerick, are holding lock-ins to get the wages they are rightfully owed. More power to them, and I truly hope they get their money. It shouldn’t be the case that the very people who kept the shops going on a daily basis are left with nothing.

January 11, 2013

Low, Arthur Russell, Lord Huron, Benoit Pioulard

by sweetoblivion26


Pic by me, Dublin

There are few things better than going through a phase of listening to the same artist for a week after not listening to them for quite a long time. That immediate feeling when you put on the first track is like a restorative sigh – you can instantly relax into that blissful space where every note, every beat is deliciously familiar.

With that in mind, here’s some Arthur Russell for your ears. Thanks to his intense work ethic and ability to create music spanning a number of genres, you can listen to him if you’re in the mood for disco, if you’re feeling love-lorn, or if you just want to hear someone play cello like their heart depended on it.

(David Byrne plays guitar on that one)

(The video is gas, and the track is so… lusty)

Another band that I turn to for listening binges is Low, who helpfully have a brand new song out. Hurrah! Far from the darker sound of albums like Drums and Guns, this track hints at the band returning to the more upbeat, fuller sound of albums like The Great Destroyer, but still keeping things a bit restrained. What a voice Mimi Parker has, eh?

The Invisible Way is out on 19 March on Sub Pop. Fingers crossed we’ll see a live date here.

Lord Huron are new to me, but released their first LP late last year in the US. If there is a Fleet Foxes or Midlake-shaped hole in your life, Lonesome Dreams will fill it.

On to another of my most-played artists, Benoit Pioulard, and another reason why 2013 is shaping up to be a super one for new music. His fourth long player, called Hymnal, is due out in March also (on the incredible Kranky label), and here’s a little snippet of a track from it:

Hear the keys? Those, alongside the news that Kyle Bobby Dunn worked on strings for the record, has me incredibly excited to hear what the finished product will sound like. Hopefully the album will be available in a special edition, like its predecessor was – trust me, it’s worth it for all the goodies you get.

Here’s a new podcast featuring an interview with Rafel Anton Irisarri and Thomas Meluch (the man behind Pioulard) who together play under the name Orcas. (The link to download the podcast is at the bottom of the post).

Finally, if you have made it all the way down to here, you might be interested in the latest Community of Independents episode. You may also recognise the voice doing the voice-over during the Wolfbait interview…

In other news, my show Sweet Oblivion was supposed to be back this week, but it seems an old show went out instead. So I’ll see you next week for a new show on Wednesday at 11pm.

Finally, the Meteor Choice Prize nominations were announced this week – I’m a judge this year (very exciting) and it was really interesting to see which albums that I voted for made it through. I was sad not to see Katie Kim, Laura Sheeran and the Spook of the Thirteenth Lock in there, but I also don’t think that if albums didn’t make the award they’re not ‘deserving’ of one (that would be fairly nonsensical). If you don’t have any of those three albums, I’d highly recommend them.

January 7, 2013

A rush and a push and 2013 is ours

by sweetoblivion26


Pic: Me/Declan Kelly

When the rush and stress that is the end-of-year best-of lists (all those hyphens is enough to bring me out in a rash) is over, it’s time to start imagining what lies in store for the next 12 months of music.

Being honest, I go through phases with music (and with blogging too, as my haphazard approach proves). Sometimes I’m all about new music, soaking up whatever fresh sounds I can get my ears around; other times I can’t find anything new that excites me, and retreat back to the familiar songs that made me swoon first time around.

There are such distinct emotions associated with those two endeavours that I wonder if each phase maybe reflects how my own life feels during each particular phase. When I’m full of energy and happy to embrace change, I reach for the new stuff; when things are out of sorts and I’m struggling to find balance, I put my hand out and grab the old.

Now that I’m clearly in an introspective mood, it’s this love I have for older music that I sometimes feel is at odds with music blogging. The Irish blogging scene generally tends to be driven by people who have an urge to discover new music and write about it, and that in itself is proof of how hungry we are for new sounds here. That isn’t criticism – and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine how terrible things would be if no one gave a toss about new Irish music – but when I want to write about older music, about old tracks, old albums, old artists, I wonder if doing that is at all appropriate.

If I stopped for a second and thought about it, though, of course it is. Just because this is a ‘new communication platform’ that I’m using, and just because it is often used to share the joy of new music, doesn’t mean we all have to do the same thing. There are blogs dedicated to every single type of music every created scattered around the internet. One little barely-read blog spouting lines about an old Bonnie Prince Billy track isn’t going to put a dent in this charming online world.

So I resolve to, when the mood strikes me (I’m contrary like that), post whatever music I’m listening to that really makes me want to write, to share whatever I’m feeling at the time. I can’t promise that this year I’ll finally ‘crack’ blogging, and I’m not sure if that’s even what I intend to do, but I do know I’ve been slacking of writing about music for the sake of it, and this space is just perfect to scribble in.

So, in the spirit of this, here are some new tracks I’m enjoying right now.

(On a related note, if you’re in an Irish band, you might be interested to hear that I write a monthly column with accompanying podcast for The Ticket in the Irish Times. If you’d like your MP3s considered, drop me a line at

What are you listening to at the moment? All recommendations gratefully received.



Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Big Star

Melody’s Echo Chamber

Caoimhin O Raghallaigh

July 25, 2012

Interview: Vicky Langan

by sweetoblivion26

I’m delighted this is finally online – an interview I did with my friend Vicky Langan (performance artist/experimental musician/event curator) about her work and inspiration.

I’ve been really curious for a long time about what motivates her, so it was great to get to chat about it.

After we did the interview, we took some photos outside in the back garden – the treacle was her idea and it worked out so, so well despite my nerves. I’m really proud of these photos.

June 29, 2012

Podcast & Column: NewFound Sounds

by sweetoblivion26

Now is a very exciting time to be involved, in any way, with Irish independent music. It’s not that the music being made now is necessarily better than in times past, or more important, but that the game itself has changed. It is easier and cheaper to access recording materials; it’s easier and cheaper to promote your music thanks to the internet and its numerous iniatives; we still have great venues; the DIY spirit is alive and kicking; and collectives and labels are springing up all over the place.

There is another side to all of these changes, and that’s the uncertainty that surrounds the music industry; the unstable record sales; the cautious big-name record labels; the fast ascent to fame of newborn bands who really needed another few years to ‘find’ themselves before being introduced to the world; the speed at which you can burn away after living fast on a high of blog posts and bandcamp sales. Music is more disposable, and listeners won’t always pay money for it.

And yet…. this isn’t a post about all the difficult parts to this new musical era that we are all still wrangling with, the download-or-don’t debates, the fear, the uncertainty. It’s about the fact that despite all of this, great music is still being made. It’s sometimes overwhelming how much new music floods into my inbox every week.

Some of it is quality, some isn’t. But that’s to be expected with any creative form. There are still a lot of people doing inspiring things, so it’s an honour, really, to get to be involved in spreading the word in some way about them.

Today marks the first monthly NewFound Sounds podcast/column in The Ticket. It’s pretty thrilling – and not a little nerve-wracking, if I’m honest – to get to combine three things I love (radio, writing and music, needless to say) in one package, and have it featured in The Irish Times.  If I’m even more honest, part of me didn’t believe it was actually happening until I woke up this morning and checked the website straight away on my phone (let’s not get into print-versus-web journalism in this post, however…)

But here it is. You can check out the column here, and listen to the podcast here. Any feedback, suggestions or comments welcome. I’m sure it will evolve as it goes on, and I’m really looking forward to finding new bands and themes for it. This month’s podcast features tracks from A Driftwood Manor, I’m Your Vinyl, Horsemen Pass By, SlowPlaceLikeHome and Seamus O Muineachain, who are all making totally different but utterly gorgeous music.

This week’s theme is new music, and the next two, I can tentatively say, will feature Irish bands playing in upcoming festivals. I’m thinking it would be great to focus on Irish metal / hip hop / experimental music in the coming months too, with input from people within those scenes….

All of this wouldn’t be possible without a brilliant editor, so a huge thanks to Anthea McTeirnan for giving NewFound Sounds her stamp of approval and encouragement.

A big thanks also goes to Lauren Murphy, who does the gig guide for the podcast (and put up with me growling ‘gah! noise!!’ into the mic everytime something moved while we were recording it). You’ll hear more of Lauren on future podcasts.

As for the theme music, another huge thanks must go to Toby Kaar, who kindly provided a selection of unreleased tunes for me to pick a song from. Sound! Check his music out here.

PS: If you’re looking for more independent Irish music, here are a few links for you:

Harmless Noise

The G-Man Blog


The Point of Everything

Community of Independents (DOI – I do interviews for them)

On the Record


Body & Soul disposable camera pics & half-frame pic by me

March 27, 2012

Community of Independents & Hard Working Class Heroes Festival

by sweetoblivion26

If you’re someone with an interest in the Irish music scene as a whole, a great festival to give you an insight into what’s going on here is Hard Working Class Heroes. Yes, it doesn’t cover every single band in the country but it’s a good snapshot of what’s happening nationwide. One interesting aspect to the festival is its panel discussions, where people working in the music industry in a number of different countries gather to give their opinion on subjects such as technology, downloading, labels, and more.

Jim Carroll of the Irish Times was the man asking the questions during the sessions. Late last year, DCTV, a Dublin-based community TV station, asked me would I be interested in hosting two discussion shows on the panel sessions for their Community of Independents series. Despite having no TV experience at all and a mortal fear of seeing myself on the screen, I said yes – sure why not do one thing every day that scares you, eh?

The shows feature Andrew Bushe from Estel and Keith Johnson from IMRO chatting to yours truly – they both come from very different places on the musical spectrum. Andrew had an interesting viewpoint as an independent musician active in the Dublin scene for years, while Keith represented the industry side of things.

Here are the videos, part one… and part two.

DCTV has also produced some fantastic band profiles, interviews and a weekly music show, all of which can be viewed on its jam-packed Vimeo page

March 23, 2012

Some musical things for the weekend

by sweetoblivion26

Happy (almost) weekend! Here’s the latest Sweet Oblivion show (click) and playlist

Artist / Track / Album

THEESatisfaction – Enchantruss – QueenS

Big Star – Ballad of El Goodo – #1 Record

Grandaddy – He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot

Townes van Zandt – Waiting Around To Die

Yawning Chasm – Seen Like A Bird’s Cold Cold Eye – Snarl

Woven Skull – Cattlemart Crows – Moods of the Hill People

Leyland Kirby – A fluid wilderness of nothing – Sadly, the future is no longer what it was (Limited edition)

Áine O’Dwyer – In A Fugue State of Mind – Music For Church Cleaners

Robert Glasper Trio – Mood – Mood

Cogar There Are Dreams Where They Speak

One track I’ll definitely be playing next week is from S Carey, whose new EP ‘Hoyas’ is due out on Jagjaguwar in May. I loved his debut, and this new track is a confident, electronics-tinged progression on the subtly affecting, gently-creeping feel of his earlier work.

Sweet Oblivion will be on 2FM this Sunday at 11pm. It’s the weekly 2XM on 2FM slot and it’s a great one to be included in! I’ll be playing some tracks from the likes of Little Xs for Eyes, Lower Dens, Balam Acab and Orcas.

In other news, this gig sounds extremely interesting: Resound playing the Button Factory on Thursday April 19, doors 730pm and tickets: €12/10.

The gig features Resound, You Can Call Me Frances, Buzz Aldrin Allstars and Ryan Taylor Doyle, and the visuals will be looked after by Donal Dineen, Hector Castells and Jane Cassidy. If you’re wondering who Resound are, they’re a talented bunch indeed:

Crash Ensemble Cellist and Kaleidoscope co-curator, Kate Ellis. RTE Lyric FM composer in residence, Linda Buckley. Rising star aka Glitterface of NanuNanu, Laura Sheeran. Jazz maestro and world music specialistFrancesco Turrisi. The inimitable John Lambert aka Chequerboard. Old-time and traditional fiddle player (amongst other things), Adrian Hart. Words of wisdom from the award winning poet Billy Ramsell and visuals from the uber talented Jane Cassidy.

You can call me Frances is a band of four dancers, Justine Cooper, Jessica Kennedy, Emma Martin and Áine Stapleton, They formed in Dublin in 2010 and taught themselves to play an instrument.

The Buzz Aldrin Allstars are a collection of like-minded musicians from the following bands – Si Schroeder / 3epkano / Halfset / Strands / United Bible Studies / Beautiful Unit.

Finally, Ryan Taylor Doyle says he is a solo artist “after years of trying to put the perfect band together and failing miserably”.

Finally, I’m currently putting a feature together for The Ticket on Limerick, and if you’re in the Limerick area on Sunday then I highly recommend you head to A Love Supreme in Leddins Bar, where the Cork Shape Note Singers will be performing. It’s a daytime event (4pm – 8pm) that promises to be the perfect place to raise your spirits and invigorate yourself for the week ahead. More info here.

One of the organisers behind the event is mynameisjOhn, who has just released a video for one of the tracks from his new EP:

Pics: From my Golden Half

March 19, 2012

Sweet Oblivion has moved to Wednesdays at 11pm

by sweetoblivion26

Hey folks! Just a little update – 2XM has undergone some (really positive) changes, which has led to the station schedule being shuffled about a bit.

As a result, Sweet Oblivion is no longer on Thursdays at 5pm. Instead, it is on Wednesdays at 11pm. At first I was a little worried about it being so late, but I’ve starting feeling like it’s actually quite a positive thing. My show isn’t really ‘daytime radio’ in style, and I have moved on a lot musically since my early days (the show began in 2002 or so on Cork Campus Radio).

Having a late show means I can play darker, weirder and more downbeat tracks than usual, and I’ve started thinking of the show as having two parts… sort of like a Side A and Side B, with the first more upbeat than the second. I want to give night owls something soothing to listen to as it approaches the witching hour, which is a nice goal to have.

Also, the show is now on after John Kelly’s show, which I am chuffed about as he is an incredible and inspiring broadcaster and writer. Hopefully some of the magic of his show will rub off  on mine, ha!

Lastly, Sweet Oblivion was on Wednesdays on Campus Radio and Flirt FM, so that’s the day I always associate with the show.

As for the changes at 2XM – now the great Dan Hegarty broadcasts a live show from Mondays to Thursdays on 2XM at 11am, which is then re-broadcast on 2FM at 11pm. How cool is that? It provides a tangible link between the two stations and also means there is more Dan on the radio, and he’s a great champion of Irish music. He seems delighted about the change and I really hope it goes well for him. Here’s to a bright year for 2XM!

Thanks as always to everyone who listens in – you’re who I make the show for. Don’t forget that the show is available for a few weeks after broadcast on the RTE Player. I always Tweet and Facebook this link so follow me on either of those sites to go straight to the player, or go to the website and search for it there.

Click here to listen to last week’s show.

Artist – Track – Album

Parks – Topaz – Umber

Grimes – Circumambient – visions

Solar Bears – Alpha People

Mansions On The Moon – Light Years

Sharon Van Etten – Ask – Tramp

Brigid Power Ryce – The Waves Were Wild (live)

Yawning Chasm – Moon Silver Ocean

Mirroring – Fell Sound

Julia Holter & Linda Perhacs – Delicious Descent

Moondog – Moondog’s Theme

Katie Kim – Dimmer – cover and flood

Windy and Carl – Sirens – Depths

Arvo part – Spiegel im Spiegel

Finally… it was the two year anniversary of Alex Chilton’s passing on St Patrick’s Day. This one is for all you Big Star fans out there…

There’s people around who tell you that they know 
And places where they send you, and it’s easy to go 
They’ll zip you up and dress you down and stand you in a row 
But you know you don’t have to, you can just say “no”


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