I took a few weeks off from writing this column as things got a little hectic for one reason or another. Drugs binge you say? Sure, why not. Well I'm back. And to much rejoicing I'm sure. Or, you know, shrugging of shoulders. I don't want this piece to be in any way partisan but the last two bands/artists have been Irish: Dublin then Belfast and, well, spank me with a rolled up copy of the TV Times but this week I'm going with the Irish again and a band from Lurgan, Co. Armagh. Next week I'll spread my wings and fly somewhere outside of Ireland but it is Guinness's 250th birthday after all (an event they are celebrating in the States, where we are right now, as much as they would be at home. Well, maybe not with such drunken gusto but the banners are out on the streets anyway). So to Lurgan and Cat Malojian.
In another one of these pieces a while ago I praised the depth, strangeness and splendour of the new Northern Irish music scene and none come more strange and splendid than Cat Malojian (the name comes from an odd expletive Stevie's uncle used to shout when irked). They are two guys Stevie Scullion and Jonathan Toman one on guitar the other often on the banjo and they make a noise that sounds like it comes far from the freezing, slate-grey shores of the North of Ireland. It sounds more like it breathes out from the sun-drenched, lazy tangles of California's Laurel Canyon. It is music that warms the heart and catapults you to a warmth Northern Ireland (bless its cotton socks) never knew it could inspire.
New album The Dawn Chorus is a funny, tender, magic, marvel that will go someway to making your life better. Take Alphabet Song for example. It is silly and wondrous, pop and country and childlike and devilish. So many different things it is but the only one that matters is that it's awesome and just try and wipe the smile from my face when I hear it. A challenge you say? No, don't really try and wipe it off. Let's keep it friendly.
The penultimate and title track is a pioneer's ride east to west across America and is gigantic without ever really trying to be. Effortless it is but it's as beguiling an aural treasure you'll hear all year. The eight minutes pass so quickly the first thing I did when it finished on listen one was put it straight back on again. Not many eight-minute tracks have ever made me do that. A few. Not many. Neil Young's Cortez The Killer would be one.
It's a beautiful record by a duo that I hope are around for a long time. They release on their own Bad Paw label and deserve praise for fighting the good fight on their own. But more than their mocksey it's their stunning music that's the most important thing. And stunning it is. Support the small labels though for the love of all that is holy and buy it if you want it. Bless your hearts.
Til next week lots of love.
See the video for We're Alright here:
2:45 PM | 28/09/2009
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