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Posts Tagged ‘review’

LOI — a hidden gem

In Soccerball on August 4, 2009 at 14:04

In years gone by, I had occasionally thrown an awkward glance at League of Ireland soccer, as do the majority of soccer fans in Ireland. I had attended a few St Pat’s games, swayed by the energetic enthusiasm of a friend who was a Saint through and through. I admit I enjoyed the experiences and with St Pat’s being my local club (well, the club whose ground was located closest to my childhood home), I formed a long-distance relationship with them.

In Ireland, our national league tends to receive a sneerful attitude from soccer fans who much prefer to follow the English Premier League and would happily pay €300 to take a trip across the Irish Sea to watch a game, yet scoff at attendees of local LOI games.

What a shame. As I found out on Sunday evening, the LOI is a hidden gem.

I attended the Shamrock Rovers and Derry City league game at Tallaght Stadium. This was my first LOI game in about six years, and I was impressed.

First of all, when I arrived outside the stadium about 30mins before kick off, there were hundreds of people milling around. I began thinking that Tallaght are really adopting Rovers and making them their local team. Once i entered the ground, I was shocked by the amount of people already in their seats. The stadium has only one stand open for business (the stadium is still under construction), and there were very few seats vacant.

Once the match began, the die-hard Rovers fans started chanting and singing. I was well impressed. They even have a song for former Manchester United recruit Dessie Baker! I was thinking that this was just like the Premier League, but on a smaller scale. These die-hards adore their club and the players. I found it difficult to take it in…it was surreal.

Rovers went into a 1-0 lead quite early on thanks to a stunning placed effort from Sean O’Connor which sailed into the top corner. The crowd went bananas. Straight away the “Yer never gonna believe us, we’re gonna win the league” chants began.

About 20 minutes later, a headed goal from Tadhg Purcell from a cross dug out brilliantly by Dessie Baker. Purcell struck me throughout the 90 minutes as a very good player, and one who may be good enough to ply a trade at Championship level in England.

The crowd wer in raptures at this point.

Derry suddenly woke up and applied some pressure and carved out a number of chances but in Barry Murphy, Rovers have a very competant goalkeeper. He might not be the tallest keeper around, but he has safe hands.

A minute into the second half, and Derry scored with a scorching drive from just outside the penalty box. Another great goal. The ground was silent.

Derry pressed and pressed, Rovers tried to make their counter-attacks work. It was a very good second-half, full of determination, courage, and some very nice football.

Humour seems to rank quite highly with the Rovers fans. Chants at the Derry team of “You’re Brits, and you know you are….you’re Brits, and you know you are….” were followed by “What’s it like to…what’s it like to…what’s it like to have a Queen? What’s it like…..”

Rovers hung on in the end to win 2-1, keeping themselves within three points of leaders Bohemians, and effectively ruining any chances Derry had of winning the league.

As I left the stadium, amid a chorus of 4,000 delirious Rovers fans bellowing “We’re gonna win the league”, I felt proud to be out supporting my national league and to have witnessed a great game of football so close to home.

I have a feeling that games of this stature and passion are very often witnessed in the League of Ireland and I want to make sure that I experience a bit more of that very soon. The passion and enthusiasm of the Shamrock Rovers crowd is to be commended and is infectious. The atmosphere was fantastic and I’m sure Derry were intimidated by it. Once the stand on the far side of the pitch is completed, Tallaght Stadium will be more like the fortress that the Chairman Jonathan Roche is hoping to create. Last, but not least, the football was pretty good too — not the hoof and chase game I was expecting at all.

What are your experiences of LOI soccer?


In Album review on May 22, 2009 at 15:34

This is The Secret Machines third offering, and the first since Benjamin Curtis left the band to form School Of Seven Bells. He formed The Secret Machines with his brother Brandon, and Josh Garza. Unfortunately for this album, simply titled Secret Machines, his absence is quite noticeable.

This release follows the same trend as the first two albums, in that it pumps out powerful beats sprinkled with very quirky and unusual lyrics. However, that unique, indescribable and unknown element that Benjamin brought to the recording studio is lacking.

The same beatbusting anthemic drums and guitars heard on First Wave Intact and Alone, Jealous and Stoned are featured on this album too, giving The Secret Machines a darker, more mystical fell than taken from Kasabian.

The aforementioned tracks First Wave Intact and Alone, Jealous and Stoned open their respective albums. This album is introduced by the kick ass Atomic Heels. It’s a tremendous tune — powerful and hard-hitting — the perfect album opener.

Last Believer, Drop Dead brings home to roost that uberpowerful beat, which effortlessly carries the song along. There are definite elements of the previous two albums shining through on this track too.

Have I Run Out showcases a superb melody sitting on top of those trademark Secret Machine beats. The track is over seven minutes long but seems a lot shorter as the song shifts mood and beat a few times.

The album seems to take a well-deserved break at this stage with Underneath The Concrete. It’s a very ordinary tune which has a gaping hole in it somewhere which needs something or somebody to fill.

Now You’re Gone features some superbly haunting vocal-mixing. Oozes emotion.

The Walls Are Starting To Crack is another ordinary composition, but has a lot of emotion filtering through the music.

I Never Thought To Ask is a fairly slow number and although the vocals are very echoey, it’s a smooth track. The feeling I get from this is that it needs a touch more creative charm to make it compulsive listening.

The closing track is The Fire Is Waiting. It drags itself along like a lame dog for over 11 minutes.

Overall, this is an album that deserves regular listening. After The Secret Machines first two fantastic albums, more was expected from this work. Perhaps expectations were too high. Perhaps the band’s direction is changing now after the departure of Benjamin.

However, The Secret Machines trademark unique sound remains in tact, and with a few minor tweaks and adjustments, they will reign supreme.

U2’s No Line On The Horizon

In Album review, Jonathan Ross on March 9, 2009 at 15:07

In a nutshell, this album defintely grows on you. Perhaps, as one reviewer put it before, it is because you are becoming more and more familiar with the songs. Whatever the reason, the album sounds better to me now than it did 10 days ago when i first heard it.

As I am not a big U2 fan, I downloaded it in preparation to seeing the band play live on the Friday Night With Jonathan Ross show, which I attended the week they were on it.

As the band took the stage in the studio, Bono was strangely absent. The crowd gave “the three” a resounding roar of approval and a huge round of applause. Everyone was obviously very excited to see the biggest band in the world. I have to admit, I was excited too. It was a unique experience to see the band play in such a confined space. They were only about 10 yards away form us – much better than watching them at Croke Park from the halfway line.

Anyway, a moment or two after “the other three” took to the stage, Bono decided to make his grand entrance. Get over yourself, little man. Obviously, he got a great reception but by rights he should have emerged with his badnmates. “The other” seemed unperturbed – I reckon they are immune to Bono’s behavious at this stage.

U2 played live which is to be commended. At the end of the first song they played, Breathe, while the chords were still being strummed by The Edge, Bono announced: “We’ll be doing that one again. We’re only getting warmed up.”

So they played the song again, and Bono walked up into the crowd, which is a very unusual occurrence on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross.

In fairness, Breathe isn’t a bad song at all. Though I have the feeling, as with the majority of this album, that the tracks are better suited to a stadium or arena than a small studio at the BBC. 

Anyway, straight after Breathe’s second take, they belted out Get On Your Boots, a decent song and will probably be released as a single.

It was a good performance by the band and Jonny Woss was visibly excited by having them on his show.

As I mentioned above the album sinks into you as you become more familiar with the tracks.

The title track, No Lines On The Horizon has a great melody. The more you hear this one, the more you like it.

Magnificent reminded me of Numb, and then switched to sound more like something off the Joshua Tree album.

The next two tracks from the album are very forgettable, Moment Of Surrender and Unknown Caller. It’s fairly safe to say they won’t be singles.

However, the album picks up again with I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight. This one can be imagined quite easily being played to a packed out stadium and would have the crowd going nuts. A strong contender to be released as a single.

Stand Up Comedy has a terrific riff. It teases you – I was hoping the riff would expand and continue for longer than it does and somehow break into a superb bit of plucking from someone like The Eagles or The Who. It very much reminded me of something from the recent masters of catchy riffs, Ocean Colour Scene.

The album slips into a void for the next two songs, Fez – Being Born, and White As Snow. Forgettable album fillers.

Breathe has a strange position on this album, being the second last one. But it is a good solid rock track that genuine U2 fans will appreciate.

As is typical of albums of this nature, the closing track, Cedars Of Lebanon, is a slow and emotional song.

This album is a far cry from their early stuff, it is more in line with their more recent releases. One view I have read lately suggested that U2 are not reeling in new fans with their current material. I disagree with that. I think people are discovering U2 all the time, especially the younger generation. They will appreciate this album for what it is – a solid release from one of the most successful bands of all time.

This album is not really suitable for an ipod or even your stereo at home. I think it was written with a stadium in mind….no doubt that their next tour will be huge and the tracks played from this album will give the fans what they are looking for…


And a final thought….Does Bono remind anyone else of Tom Jones? I see this little dude in big boots and mad shades….but when he dances around it reminds me of an old uncle at a wedding who hasn’t moved his hips since Woodstock. And Bono’s voice is morphing more into the Welsh crooner’s wavelength every time I hear him…..

Bono – please sit down.


In Album review on February 19, 2009 at 16:24

My ipod has been thanking me continuously recently. It is fairly new and i’m in the arduous process of filling it with aural gems. That, by the way, is a more time-consuming task than filing away all those stacks of bills and statements  I have gathering dust at home in my castle. Stacks of cds take ages to rip, convert and sync you know…..but that’s another day’s blog.

Anyway, I keep getting thank yous from my pod, largely because i’ve been listening virtually non-stop to The Airborne Toxic Event‘s self-titled album. In a word, it is class.

Fair enough, it may not feature on too many definitive Top 100 Albums Of All Time lists, but it’s a terrific prescription of uptempo, melodic tunes straight out of The Brilliant Trees and Whipping Boy‘s song-writing classes.

The five-piece hail from Los Angeles and got their name from a section of Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise. They are signed to Majordome Records, who also have The Von Bondies on their books.

Anyway, back to the music.

As well as sounding very much like the late 1990s Irish bands mentioned above, the band have a real Razorlight feel. All-in-all, The Airborne Toxic Event know how to blast out a roaring track with tremendous melodies.

Possibly the star attraction on the album is Sometime Around Midnight, which recalls a guy’s drunken night out in a bar and a piece of eye-candy he obviously yearns. The lyrics are very clever and the song builds and builds and builds with a powerful drum and bass combo.


The opening number, Wishing Well, offers a fast punchy beat – perfect opener. Papillon, which strangely has nothing to do with the Ted Walsh-trained horse who won the 2000 Aintree Grand National, has a very Nick Cave-sounding vocalist and has a very catchy melody. Gasoline hits you as being a very happy song — it’s very catchy and has a super riff.

The track Does This Mean Your Moving On? has a distinct Shed Seven aroma – it’s an uptempo song with some catchy lyrics.

Regretably, there are also two or three  fairly forgettable album fillers on there that only die hard fans will be screaming for them to play at their gigs.

Nevertheless, the album overall is a winner. Their style, their lyrics, and the lead singer (who somebody said reminded him of Glen Hansard) should appeal massively to Irish audiences.

Get downloading my friends. Winner alright.