CXCW Highlights: The Irish Showcase 2014

I cannot think of a better way to observe St. Patrick’s Day then cutting myself a slice of soda bread, making a large cup of tea, putting my feet up, and settling in with the CXCW’s second annual Irish Showcase.

You can find the whole thing here; below are a few videos to give you a taste of the excellence to be had:

First, the incomparable Tony Fitz, producer and front of house manager for Homebeat, who organized the first seven videos in the showcase, with The Murder, the first track from his upcoming record. Joining him are Gráinne Hunt and members of Red Sail.

Tony Fitz | The Murder (CXCW 2014)

I don’t know if there’s a CXCW record for “Most Dogs Per Video” but if not, Carriages may have set one, with four, count them, FOUR happily wagging tails in this video for Pale Face which they wrote special for CXCW:

Carriages | Pale Face (CXCW 2014)

Rónán Ó Snodaigh of Kíla and Kristina Aspeqvist, director of the Stockholm Vodou Orchestra met ten minutes before this video was recorded. The song is called Cara Liom:

Rónán Ó Snodaigh & Kristina Aspeqvist | Cara Liom (CXCW 2014)

Sleep Thieves, of Dublin, met on Twitter and bonded over synths and movie soundtracks. Here they are with French Kiss from their upcoming album You Want The Night, coming soon from Minty Fresh Records:

Sleep Thieves | French Kiss (CXCW 2014)

These next two videos are not Tony Fitz productions, but they are still great stuff.

Representing the West: Willow Sea (Will O’Connor), from Galway, with instrumental-in-progress Dying Starts:

Dying Stars, Instrumental in progress

And finally, last but never least, CXCW’s first participant from Northern Ireland, songwriter Rowena Cairns with You Could Break My Heart

Introducing: Grounds for Invasion

Grounds for Invasion is a collaboration between Willow Sea (Willy O’Connor; music) and newcomer Tracy Friel (lyrics, vocals), of Galway, Ireland.

They initially met through college radio – he was helping her record live sessions – but their musical partnership didn’t really blossom until he heard her sing a Bo Diddley song at an open mic night, and thought it might be fun to have her add some vocals to some tracks he had been working on.

The results of that experiment are the five songs on Grounds for Invasion’s self-titled EP.

Willow Sea, left to his own devices, makes mellow, contemplative music. Grounds For Invasion, while still pretty chill, falls further down both the darker and poppier ends of the musical spectrum.

For example: Dance Alone, which is a wistful memoir of clubbing that you could do a swirly-girly-gothy interpretive dance to, if you wanted.

And also True Romance, which I am posting because it is my favorite. It’s poetry – bold, hilarious, profane poetry – recited over a hypnotic beat. Sample line: You appeared like a drunken Gabriel, all talk and Buckfast and legs that just went on and on.

Willow Sea: Across the River and Into The Trees

The songs on Across the River and Into The Trees by Willow Sea (Willy O’Connor) are, collectively and individually, balm for the weary soul. I listened to them a lot this winter, because this winter was very, very long.

Here are two I especially like. This one is a ray of cheery sunshine on cold gray days:

And this one sounds like the realization that the night be dark and deep, but it is lovely, too, and not full of monsters waiting to crunch your bones. The lights you can see are not an oncoming train, but rather the lanterns your friends have left on their porches for you to find your way home.

For more, go to CD Baby or iTunes.

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Fanmix: Warren Ellis, Gun Machine

Fan mixes: collections of music created as both soundtrack and illustration for other works, usually works of fiction, intended as both appreciation of and enticement to read the work of fiction.

This one is for Gun Machine by Warren Ellis, who is author of, among other things, Transmetropolitan and Crooked Little Vein, and is NOT the dude who plays music with Nick Cave.

Gun Machine is a murder mystery set in New York. But not the New York you usually see on cop shows; the Financial District, which is older and darker. Down there you’re off the grid. The streets are narrow and twisty and reality can be very thin. Depending on how the wind is blowing off the water, it does feel like you could walk around a corner today and stumble into the 17th century, 1926 could be tomorrow and 2018 was last week.

“Off the grid” would actually sum up the book as a whole. It is also bloody, startling, deeply lonely, occasionally bitingly funny, like watching my own city from the wrong end of a telescope, a complex puzzle, and very, very good. If you pick it up, be sure to both read and listen carefully; Ellis uses music and sounds much like Nathaniel Hawthorne used light, that is, as both text and subtext.

The mix below is my attempt at capturing the spirit of the work. The songs chosen are intended to trace the outline of the narrative in broad strokes. All of them, save for two, are available for sale and/or free download from the artist.

The exceptions are Panic! at the Disco’s cover of Karma Police, which is a fan bootleg of a live performance, chosen for the quality of the static, and Kasey Anderson and the Honkies’ Abbaddon Blues, because it is from Let the Bloody Moon Rise, a record which saw only limited release before Anderson went on indefinite-but-hopefully-not-permanent hiatus and which is now (almost) out of circulation.

1.BT, Go(d)t

2. Panic! at the Disco, Karma Police (Radiohead cover)

(If you want a visual.)
3. Foster the People, Pumped Up Kicks
Foster The People - Pumped up Kicks

4. Breakfast in Fur, Whisper
Breakfast in Fur - Whisper (Official)

5. David C. Clements, Oh Child

6. Blondie, Heart of Glass
Blondie - Heart Of Glass

7. Jane’s Addiction, Chip Away
Jane's Addiction - Chip Away

8. Firewater, A Little Revolution
FIREWATER: A Little Revolution

9. Milan Jay, In the Shadows of Footsteps


11.Xiu Xiu, Hi

12. Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, Abbaddon Blues

13. Cage the Elephant, Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
Cage The Elephant - Ain't No Rest For The Wicked

14. Blackwater Jukebox, Carousel

15. Willow Sea, Night Light