Showing posts from 2017

Bonny Doon – I see you (from the album Bonny Doon, Melodic Records)

Bonny Doon sounding like an in their 20s Silver Jews with the poetry and the guitars and the wonderful bittersweet stance on life.

The tone is laconic self deprecating.

But full of emotion in between the lines.

The poetry of these says it all -

liquor store
slippery floor
I saw my reflection in a bottle of wine
like a neon sign

And especially this coup de grace –

I got a couple of texts from my mom
one said happy birthday
and the other one was a smiley face
a sideways heart
we miss you won’t you come on home

Meanwhile the guitars and drums keep a stoic presence.

It's soulful in the way white people can sometimes be.

It’s a very beautiful thing.

Playlist 468 - Nov 14 2017

Something I’ve been thinking about for a while is a cello themed show. Well a little preview in the middle of this week’s show. Penny Rimbaud was in Crass and has made a very interesting new album of treatments of Wilfrid Owen’s war poems, featuring some gorgeous piano and cello. I wouldn’t call it backing, it’s more like a jazz trio with one of the parts being a voice.

Also in there is the Andy Nice contribution to the Front & Follow compilation celebrating 10 years in the world, beautiful loops and layers. And Solo Collective teasing out the durational element of this endlessly fascinating instrument.

Little Tornados making beguiling dream pop featuring Caroline Sallee of Caroline Says.

Who is in there in her own right with one of my favourite songs of the year somehow bridging the gap between bossa nova and kosmische.

And Bonny Doon sounding like a young 20s Silver Jews with the poetry and the guitars and the wonderful bittersweet stance on life.

More on these page…

Playlist 467 - Nov 7 2017

Centrepiece of this week’s show was a little piece of an interview with Kramies who has a new single out now on Hidden Shoal. He’s an interesting guy and has worked with plenty of other interesting people – Jason Lytle and Todd Tobias to name a couple.

Also this week we had euphoric prog pop from Montero.

Sumptuous lounge music from Howe Gelb with the brilliant Lonna Kelley.

Bonkers and charming naive pop from Tenniscoats.

And klezmer jazz from Berlin 1941 courtesy of the great Lift it up compilation on Gut Feeling.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 467
Tues Nov 7 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Montero – Vibrations (playing Vicar Street, Dublin Nov 22, w Mac DeMarc…

Playlist 466 - Oct 31 2017

The Go! Team on the show again this week - better get used to that, it's one of the best pieces of music heard anywhere in some time.

Moondog and Bob Lind to begin. An odd pairing you might say. But I wonder if Jack Nietzsche (whose genius you can hear in the production of 'Counting') was aware of the Viking of 6th Avenue? Something in that glorious swirling arrangement sounds to me like it's speaking to the marvellous rounds and overlapping rhythms and time signatures of Moondog.

Drahla have a nice line in Sonic Youth esque tight jagged post punk.

Lean Year and The Saxophones, two of a great current crop of American artists plying the edges of dream pop to intriguig effect.

And speaking of that, one of the classics from Julee Cruise with the handiwork of Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch not far away.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed…

Grace Sings Sludge – A man doesn’t want (Empty Cellar Records)

Grace Cooper from San Francisco treats us to some tasty slowcore from the irresistibly titled album Life with Dick.



A little bit dangerous.

Two guitar chords and a high hat are the tools employed as Cooper croons somewhere between Chan Marshall and Kurt Cobain.

There’s a wonky slacker feel to the fuzz chords which is particularly endearing.

To add to the sense of intrigue.

Lovely stuff.

The Stevens – Good (Chapter Music)

The spirit of GBV and Pavement is alive and well on this Melbourne 4-piece’s excellent second album.

Satisfying not as simple as they sound guitars make hay with gorgeous go ahead drumming.

In general the feel is of the joy of the bandroom.

But let’s also point out the superior songwriting and nagging tunes at the heart of gems like ‘Chancer’ and ‘Cruiser’.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Good by The Stevens

Playlist 465 - Oct 24 2017

This week’s show has a lot of great music.

At least four of my favourite tunes of the year (you know the ones if you're here regularly).

But really this week come for the pop genius of The Go! Team...brass band handclaps xylophones joyous teenage guest singers.

Then stay for the rest.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 465
Tues Oct 24 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

The Go! Team – The semicircle song (playing Electric Ballroom, London, Feb 15)
Hater – Blushing (playing Rough Trade East, London, Nov 29)
This is the Kit – By my demon eye (playing Cyprus Ave, Cork, Jan 16)
Montero – Vibrations (playing Vicar Street, Dublin Nov 22, w Mac DeMarco)
The Clientele – Everyon…

The Go! Team – The semicircle song (Memphis Industries)

Great pop music comes in many different forms.

However there are some combinations of elements that even on paper are close to guaranteed to bring about wonderful results.

A brass band.




A chorus of oohs.

Add to that the way around a melody and bouncing backbeats which are two of the things we love most about The Go! Team.

And the sheer exuberance of the group of Detroit teenagers who guested on vocals.

Did I mention that the singers introduce themslves along with their starsigns during the breakdown?

(Plus is that a theremin in the background?)

A joyous riot and a genius pop song.

Playlist 464 - Oct 17 2017

A couple of main themes this week.

Seminal psych folk or country figures in Gene Clark and Bob Lind. Chris Gantry is getting a reissue on Drag City, Nashville but not as you probably dreamed. And Michael Nau and Damien Jurado, two contemporary US songwriters bringing great psychedelic undercurrents to modern folk music.

The second section is all about the soundtracks. A couple of brilliant pieces from the year just gone, Nicholas Britell and Mica Levi respectively, from two excellent films also, Moonlight and Jackie. And some jazz inflections from Mikael Tariverdiev (classical Russian style) and Martial Solal (frantic French Nouvelle Vague style).

Plus The Bonk, lovely prog pop shapes weaving dreamily around jazz and other things.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 464
Tues Oct 17 2017

Tenniscoats – Tomas Azarahi (from the album Music Exists 3, Alien Transistor)

Beguling naive pop (or avant pops as they have called it in the past) with brass and reed from the Japanese duo.

Piano trumpet and a clarinet take most of the load making gorgeous circling patterns.

Saya Ueno’s vocal is the cherry leading the melody where the other instruments follow.

Sometimes simple things are the most beautful.

And affecting.

Track 9 in this playlist

Montero – Vibrations (Chapter Music)

Meet Ben Montero of Melbourne who is currently shacking up in Athens and by all appearances (from the music video anyway) having a whale of a time on the Mediterranean.

This storming tune has shades of Connan Mockasin and Tame Impala although imagined through MOR/soft rock rather than filthy funk or psych rock.

A quick perusal of his Facbook confirms the suspicion that this is the music of someone quite happy to proclaim love for the likes of Fleetwood Mac and REO Speedwagon.

Which in itself is a beautiful thing.

There’s also the small matter of a song which begins with a chorus especially one as good as this.

A lost art in pop music.

The sound of genius in the making I feel.

Playlist 463 - Oct 10 2017

Some very tasty underground sounds on the show this week.

Japanese band Tenniscoats are back with the latest part of their epic Music Exists series – all three albums are now releasing on vinyl – gorgeous naïve folk melodies meet outsider pop.

The estimable Front & Follow label are 10 years old and are celebrating with a compilation of their most excellent roster, Lessons. We heard Andy Nice, sumptuous cello lines, and Sone Institute, a gorgeous drifting mixture of loops, samples, spoken word and field recordings.

From her own new album, but also featured on Lessons, Laura Cannell with another bracing blast of pre modern overbowed violin.

Speaking of outsider pop, although it could make a play for the major leagues, is Montero – exceedingly catchy psych pop/soft rock.

And This is the Kit, just confirmed for Cork show in January.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed

Playlist 462 - Oct 3 2017

A couple of Cork bands taking to the road soon on the show this week.

The Bonk feature Philip Christie from O Emperor and friends. On their debut album there’s a great mix of doomsday jazz and prog pop with some swamp rock on the side. Fixity you’ll know if you’re a regular listener to the show. Based around drummer (and many other things) Dan Walsh and a rotating cast of collaborators. Thrilling dreamy soundscapes you can dance to. Imagine.


Cool Ghouls, wonderful Byrds meets Creedence Clearwater Revival grooves.

PINS, more stirring anti anthems – “I’m only here to serve the rich.”

And some autumnal gems from The Kinks & Lee Hazlewood.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 462
Tues Oct 3 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at…

Lali Puna - Deep dream (from the album Two windows, Morr Music)

Something very active in my ether this month and a sound that would remind you of Berlin.

Warm fluid dance music in the territory of a Caribou or a Floating Points.


Hook laden.


Wonderful pop music.

The Bonk – Seems to be a verb (thirtythree-45)

Things you should know.

Phil Christie of O Emperor is involved.

Bit of Beefheart.

Bit of doomsday jazz.

Bit of improv spirit.

Bit of mongrel swamp rock action.

Prog pop tendencies.

More than the sum of its parts.

In short very good.

Cipher by The Bonk

Monologue by The Bonk

Ancestor by The Bonk

St Vincent – New York (from the album Masseduction, Loma Vista Recordings/Caroline)

It’s good to have St Vincent in the world.

And it’s good to have St Vincent back in pop music.

I imagine most people’s view of this song will be coloured by the staggering video which is a breathtaking pop art meets surrealist confection directed by Alex Da Corte.

But for me this song nods back to her first album a little when the music was as baroque and intriguing as her choice of moniker.

In particular the moment the massed bank of St Vincents in the chorus sing these lines -

I have lost a hero
I have lost a friend

One of this year's anthems I can feel it in my bones.

I wonder if those lines are a reference to David Bowie but the uplift of emotion is glorious in any case.

It could just be a love letter to the home of art pop.

Or a hymn to motherfuckers everywhere.


Lean Year – Lean Year (Western Vinyl)

A musical collaboration between a film maker and a former academic.

That’s the kind of set up liable to put some people off.

But this project involving Rick Alverson and Emilie Rex has many great things.

Textures to hang your hat on.

Haunting melodies.

Intriguing atmospheres.

A sense of yearning and adventure. (Are they the same thing?)

A certain kind of classic 60s folk music is clearly an influence although fed through a surrealist filter.

The citing of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film Holy Mountain in the song of the same name is a clue to where they’re coming from.

In 'Come and see' a finger strummed guitar is the main company for the beautiful double tracks of Rex's vocal. One strained high. One soft close up.

String swells make a compelling chamber atmosphere in 'Watch me'.

In my favourite 'Her body in the sky' Rex's voice sounds like it will break at any second as a clarinet noodles around a to die for organ hook. …

Playlist 461 - Sept 26 2017

There’s something about duets, and something extra about husband and wife duets.

This week we had the new song from The Saxophones, another gorgeous/unsettling dream pop number straight out of a David Lynch soundtrack.

Then later one of the classics of the genre, Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin with the lesser known yang to the yin of 'Je t’aime'. And Dean & Britta with what is probably a homage to Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra/Suzi Jane Hokom and isn’t that just fine.

Other than that some sumptuous cuts from The Clientele, Hater and This is the Kit.

And wonderful Russian film music from 1975 from Mikael Tariverdiev.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 461
Tues Sept 26 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at

This is the Kit – Hotter colder (from the album Moonshine freeze, Rough Trade)

Another fantastic slice of psych folk boogie from the Parisian resident et sa bande a famille.

Certain trademark elements are all in place.

Lethally infectious melodies.

Baggy dancefloor friendly grooves.

A progressive bent but endearingly lightly held.

Most of all a glorious horn section adding an extra burst of energy and maybe it’s just me but throwing a nod in the direction of ska on this track perhaps giving a teasing hint at fruitful avenues of exploration for TITK in the future.

A wonderful group to have in the world.

Playlist 460 - Sept 19 2017

A few themes in this week’s show.

Female folk artists.

Bedouine, bringing a great soulful touch (and a Middle Eastern tinge if you listen closely) to a sound reminiscient of 60’s folk pop.
Lean Year, a male-female duo in fact, but a psychedelic swirl of intrigue amidst hushed melodies.

Something cosmic.

Colleen, using a Moog to convey the universe, gorgeously.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, using a Buchla Music Easel to create brilliantly light and playful electronic tunes.

And Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra, a genius orchestra with swing or is it jazz sound.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 460
Tues Sept 19 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Bedouine – Solitary daughter

The Saxophones – Aloha (Full Time Hobby)

Another to die for slice of dream pop from Oakland husband and wife duo Alexei Erenkov and Alison Alderdice.

The combination of plucked electric guitar with pillowy synths and softly thudding floor toms would inevitably put you in mind of Angelo Badalamenti.

In fact this tune wouldn’t sound out of place in a David Lynch film with its air of hushed disquiet.

A storm of emotion hidden under a calm exterior.

Gorgeous and unsettling in equal measure.

Aloha by The Saxophones

Playlist 459 - Sept 12 2017

A predominance of people playing live shows this week.

Robert Forster is in Europe promoting his wonderful memoir Grant & I, giving public interviews and playing songs from his own and The Go Betweens legendary back catalogues.

Amiina and Autre Monde are just two of the many bands playing the Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival in Cork this week.

We also had haunting folk music from The Doomed Bird of Providence and The Nightjar.

And sumptuous dream pop from The Saxophones, music to dream and yearn to.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 459
Tues Sept 12 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Julie Byrne – Follow my voice (playing Union Chapel, London, Nov 13)
Nadia Reid – I co…

Playlist 458 - Sept 5 2017

First show back after the August holiday and we’re working through a bit of a backlog but that can be good.

Russian soundtrack maestro Mikael Tariverdiev, a great melancholic string swoon.
Colleen, a beautiful Moog-based kosmische.
Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra, wonderful quixotic orchestral shapes.
Ariel Pink, glorious lovelorn jangle pop.

And The Clientele, adding brass to a sunset Byrdsian sound quite brilliantly.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 458
Tues Sept 5 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Colleen – November
Lali Puna - Two windows
Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra – Vula (playing Musikbrauerei, Berlin, Oct 14)
Diagnos - Walking down
Matthew Bourne - Isotac…

Diagnos – Walking down (Control Freak Kitten Records)

There’s a beautiful rambling psych pop flavour to the latest single from this Swedish band’s debut album.

It would tend to remind you of the pastoral and elegant sounds of Cluster.

Burbling synths make the background while stately guitar lines and serene organ sketch the foreground.

As if Papa M took a detour into kosmische.

It’s gorgeous.

Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra – Vula (Alien Transistor)

There’s a welcome strain of mad bastard floating around a certain brand of German music lately and a good portion of it seems to emanate from the Alien Transistor label.

AMEO are an 18 piece ensemble lead by Daniel Glatzel based in Berlin and this music could really make you want to move there.

From the blurb:

It arrives gently, with shimmering lights, soft winds, sashaying melodies, and of course, the isotherms and isotheres function just as they should: All of a sudden, lighting strikes amid the concord of instruments, unforeseen energies erupt and upset the rhythmic scenery with elemental force. Making a combined effort to create sheltering patches of harmony within the unfolding drama, leader Daniel Glatzel and his 18-piece “working band” set out to harness album #4...imagine Michel Legrand meeting Maurice Ravel at a Gil Evans gig.

To that I would also add the lightness and sparkle of a Joe Hisaishi Studio Ghibli soundtrack.

And the joyousness frivolity and elegance …

Katie Von Schleicher – Paranoia (from the album Shitty hits, Full Time Hobby)

There’s a compelling stalking atmosphere to this tune.

And a lovely warped feel to the prismatic guitar.

The voice is a wonderful instrument twisting words out of the side of the mouth making intriguing inflections.

With the blues wrapping around and a hint of the swagger of early Bowie.

It’s a great thing when pop music can be understated and dramatic at the same time.

Wand – Bee Karma (Drag City)

A lovely loud/soft kinda thing from Cory Hanson and buds.

Again (as on his great solo album from last year) he sounds scarily like Marc Bolan and the loud bits here are not a million miles from the hip swinging boogie that T Rex brought to the world.

But I must say the soft parts take the prize for me.



Tender even in their vaguely psychedelic demeanour.

When the band crashes in it all crackles with intent.

The Comet Is Coming – Slammin (The Leaf Label)

TCIC are releasing a special edition of last year’s stirring album Channel the spirits.

This previously unreleased track is part of the expanded package.

You know what to expect at this stage and yet it still gets the blood pumping.


Jagged bass pulses.

Spacey bleeps.

Groovy breakbeats flirting with jazz.

A savage cosmic stew.

Cool Ghouls – Only grey (from the album Gord’s horse, Melodic Records)

Bracing new single from the San Francisco band... if John Fogerty was stepping out with The Byrds.



But cosmic in that harmony drift.

Glorious and uplifting pop music to coin a phrase.

Mikael Tariverdiev – Olga Sergeevna OST (Earth Recordings)

Another great service to humanity by Earth Recordings in reissuing this...

... another sublime soundtrack from the Russian master.

Jazz and orchestral influences.






Brushed drums.

Absolute bliss in a minor key.

The Clientele – Everyone you meet (from the album Music for the Age of Miracles, Tapete Records)

Sometimes a plainly gorgeous piece of music is enough.

Other times the softly muted fanfare of brass like the beloved sound of Eric Matthews can make all the difference.

No sense of Mr Matthews’ baroque flourishes here though. More akin to some of The Byrds’ subtler experiments. Around the Younger than yesterday album when David Crosby in particular struck out on a tantalising dreamy limb before heading off into the sunset.

There’s a distinct domestic feel. An idyll. As Alisdair MacLean details a daily routine around Silver Street and singing strings buoy up every word.

It amounts to a kind of soaring chamber pop as poignant as it is uplifting.

Snapped Ankles – Hanging with the moon (The Leaf Label)

Another wonderful clatter from the English duo ahead of the debut album Come play the trees.


Urgent buzzing pulses.

Perfunctory drumming.

Garage rock whoops.


Come Play The Trees by Snapped Ankles

Matthew Bourne – Isotach (The Leaf Label)

Something about the spareness and spaciousness of this music went perfectly with cool breezy nights in the middle of nowhere French countryside lately.

Piano and cello is all that’s involved for the most part...

...well that and the essential element of the room in which it was recorded.

The space.

Long cello bows.

Hanging piano notes.

Plus of course the unbeatable touch of Mr Bourne.

Classical music (if you wish) with a wonderful feel and tons of heart.

A beautiful record.

Isotach by Matthew Bourne

Bedouine – Back to you (from the album Bedouine, Spacebomb)

Another wonderful nugget from Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb hub in Richmond Virginia.

The origin though is the voice and songs of Azniv Korkejian, born in Syria to Armenian parents but resident in the US for some years.

Her voice is an intoxicating thing. Hushed. Softly spoken. Insistent. Containing something of a Carole King about it. Or even a Karen Carpenter maybe. Another time anyway.

When there was strength in subtlety and soul was in the nuance as much as the volume.

And the dream of an arrangement behind the perfect match.

Gently enervating brass and woodwind.

Uplifting top note strings.

Beautiful pitter patter bass.

A genius falsetto backing vocal that seems to catch me every time.

She also has a way with as lyric, Ms Korkejian.

California city parks
They talk in exclamation marks

An understated treasure.

Bedouine by Bedouine

Colleen – Separating (Thrill Jockey)

This is quite the departure for anyone familiar with the last two albums by Colleen.

Those featured prominently the viola da gamba, a Renaissance instrument not a million miles from a cello.

In Colleen’s hands though it shook off any hint of baroque, instead zoning in on a kind of musique concrete taking loops and cut ups and field recordings and fashioning them into meditations on the elements and the natural world.

There are no strings at all on the new album (A flame my love, a frequency, due in October), ditched in favour of Moog pedals and Critter and Guitari synthesizers of all things.

The lyrical themes show a certain thread mind you and the overall impression is of a fragile and trancelike brand of kosmische.

Her voice is once again awash in echo while the backing shimmers and pulses insistently.

It has very much the feel of chance music about it as the moog arpeggios skitter off in a thousand different directions.

In keeping with those elemental meditati…

Yorkston Thorne Khan - Coughlan's, Cork, July 27th 2017

Standing room only in the back of Coughlan’s Thursday.

James Yorkston wearing a cap. Jon Thorne in bare feet. Suhail Khan with a ponytail.

A joyous occasion even if plenty of sorrowful songs.

Some things that happened.

The furious blues conjured with an acoustic guitar a double bass and a sarangi.

The sarangi a blur of fingers and a keening yearning tone to it you sometimes get from a steel guitar or some other times from a fiddle.

Suhail’s feet tucked under him with the sarangi in his lap perched on a table covered with a rug.

James’ cheeky way with a wisecrack. (“Thanks to Christy Moore for playing support earlier. And Paul Brady.”)

Jon’s laconic way with a wisecrack. (“Remember when The Beatles were so high that they let Ringo sing” as he took the guitar off James to sing.)

Suhail’s earnest boyish quality.

James’ mischievous boyish quality.

Jon’s stand up routine. “I first met Suhail on the set of a Star Trek movie. The Wrath of Khan.”


Julie Byrne – Follow my voice (from the album Not even happiness, Basin Rock Records)

Some pieces of music stand or fall on the singer’s voice.

That’s the way with the opening song on the new Julie Byrne album.

A voice of what though?

It’s in a not dissimilar register to Alela Diane in the mid range where you find a speaking voice.

But a different tone to that and with an appealing reedy tone to it as opposed to Diane’s bell clear quality.

The lines of swells and pauses filled only by acoustic strums and her voice and distant strings singing in the wind.

Not really a sound you would associate with New York. A hush. Not a rush.

And the line in the middle that stops you.

I’ve been called heartbreaker

Folk music with a distinct attitude hidden in its mild clothes.

A beautiful thing.

Not Even Happiness by Julie Byrne

Playlist 457 - July 25 2017: Best of 2017 Mid Year Review Part 2

Part 2 of this Mid Year Review.

From the more folk side of the argument.

Again all regulars on the show this year.

Part 1 is last week in case you missed it.

That's Camille in the picture.

The show is back on the air in September after the station's summer break.


The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 457 - Best of 2017 Mid Year Review Part 2
Tues July 25 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Yorkston Thorne Khan – Chori chori (playing Coughlan’s, Cork, July 27)
James Elkington – Wading the vapours
Entrance – Always the right time
Rich Osborn – Streets of Laredo, A Pastorale
Camille – Fontaine de lait (playing Barbican, London, Oct 30)
Bedouine – Back to you
Caroline Says – My fia…

Sean O’Hagan – The Cricket Club, Cork, July 2 2017

Great to see Sean O’Hagan again recently back in the People’s Republic.

A sticky midsummer evening. Not so much sunshine but still with a promise of summer about it. In the background the lush green sward of the pitch and the hedgerows and St Vincent’s Church in Sundays Well towering on the hill across the river.

Sash windows. Smokers (most of them cricketers wearing the club blazers as opposed to gig goers per se) watching from outside on the balcony.

There was a convivial atmosphere in the long room. Something like a reunion of old friends. A room decorated by black and white photos of cricket teams. Behind the small stage a giant framed drawing on the wall of the Cork Exhibition in 1902 which took place on this very ground. Where we sported and played.

An audience that came up in the 1970s and 80s. Who might have seen Sean play in Microdisney in one of Cork’s dingy/beautiful venues. There may have been some nostalgia in the air although Sean always comes across as …

Playlist 456 - July 18 2017: Best of 2017 Mid Year Review

A playlist from the first half of 2017.

Some were reissued this year.

One is an extract from a longer piece.

Most will be familiar if you're a regular listener.

Part 2 of this selection comes up next week.

Say hello to Laetitia and friends.


The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 456
Tues July 18 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

The Comet Is Coming – March of the rising sun (playing Liverpool Psych Fest, Sept 23)
Snapped Ankles – Jonny Guitar calling Gosta Berlin
Percolator – Crab Supernova
Golden Retriever – Pelagic tremor
Matthew Bourne – Isotach
The Roger Webb Sound – Moon bird (English Weather compilation)
Kamasi Washington – Truth (extract)
Goldfrapp – Anymore
Manu Louis – …

Caroline Says – Winter is cold (from the album 50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong, Western Vinyl)

I love a good backing vocal.

Especially the kind that elevates something already good into something special.

That’s what happens here on the opening song of the album by Caroline Sallee who goes under Caroline Says.

A simple but handsome acoustic fingerpick takes on an atmosphere of intrigue with the addition of an intrusive backing hum.

I say intrusive to mean you can’t but be aware of it and it’s recorded right up to the mike becoming a wash that is higher in the mix than you would be used to for background humming.

It also enters along with the main vocal which is immediately...not disorientating as such but certainly wrongfooting.

Later the hums turn into sighs and swoop and swoon in a way that only reminds me of My Bloody Valentine.

This is a clue for the rest of the album in fact as folk rubs shoulders with off kilter jangling pop elements (in which some of the melodies carry a certain MBV-ish menace). You might not say shoegaze bit it is a dream of what p…

Playlist 455 - July 11 2017

Some baroque pop majesty this week in the shape of The Zombies (the ultimate summer pop song) and The Magnetic Fields (delicious lyrical flourishes about Stonewall, Serge Gainsbourg and drag kings throwing bricks with Judy Garland’s name on them).

Bedouine (pic) is a Syrian-Armenian-American who makes sublime hushed folk pop and with the help of Matthew E White’s crack Spacebomb crew has made one of the most beguiling albums of the year, in a muted orchestral glory kind of way.

Caroline Says is another American and she also has a great line in hushed sounds. It’s bedroom pop of a sort and I particularly love the wash of backing vocals here (her own) turning a bare folk arrangement into something deceptive and intriguing.

Diagnos. Todd Terje. Bruce Haack with savage vintage moogs.

And Michael Nau with a beautiful dreamy dream of a thing.

More on these pages. (And watch out for the first of 2 x Best of 2017 shows next week.)

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of…

Playlist 454 - July 4 2017

Some classic Pavement on the show this week from their great Wowee Zowee album from 1995. The Stevens from Melbourne sound like fans, taking their serpentine guitarlines and winding them into thrillingly surreal rock shapes. Marika Hackman too has something of the Pavement spirit I think. Her new album has lovely clipped acerbic lyric lines (hot and steamy too) and the backing from English group The Big Moon is good and sturdy and suitably spiky.

Kamasi Washington is in Europe playing shows. Take 13 minutes out of your day to listen to his masterpiece ‘Truth’, an epic and freewheeling work of orchestral cosmic jazz.

Future Islands are in the middle of an Irish tour (when did we think we’d ever be saying those words?). We heard one of their pre-Letterman genius cuts, authentic southern soul meeting a rushing New Order world view.

And Joan Shelley with a delicate feather of a vocal a gorgeous uplifting thing of beauty.

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The Underground of Happiness

Yorkston Thorne Khan – Chori chori (from the album Neuk Wight Delhi Allstars, Domino Records)

A second brilliant album of east west exchanges...

...featuring Indian sarangi on the one hand and reverberating British folk drones on the other.

And the mesmerising voice of Suhail Khan swinging and twirling with carefree abandon.

It’s a heady mix. I particularly love the loose baggy double bass of Jon Thorne a lovely down to earth quality to balance the poise and elegance of the sarangi.

Stirring stuff.

Terry – Glory (from the album Remember Terry, Upset the Rhythm)

I don’t need much encouragement to get worked up about Australian bands but even so I like this crowd a lot.

Melbourne seems to be quite the hotbed this weather from where this four piece fashion what they’re calling dolewave.

I’m not sure it’ll catch on as a name tag but the music has a charm and swagger to it that’s very appealing and the word slacker might not be out of place.

Rudimentary drum machine.

One note couldntgiveafuck guitar attitude.

Supremely deadpan vocals proclaiming “off his bloody head goes”.

The beautiful judicious use of a fuzzbox.

Another Australian band who manage to make pop poetry out of unpromising materials.

Golden Retriever – Sunsight (from the album Rotations, Thrill Jockey)

Sublime ambient ruminations from the Portland duo... which time is made to stand still by a bass clarinet and synthesisers.

The fractured opening actually has a certain feel of ECM jazz. Slowed down and bare except for the odd string slide.

Gradually the analog synths and clarinet take hold gorgeously. Long reedy swells capped by twinkles of keys.

It has a warmth to it and a mood of stoicism that is most captivating.

Rotations by Golden Retriever

Playlist 453 - June 27 2017

As if any excuse was needed, we had some great Esquivel to open the show this week on top of the signature tune of the show of course. It really is music guaranteed to put a spring in your step.

After that we had some beautiful new music from The Clientele, back with a new album and sounding brilliantly atmospheric. A twilight kind of sound.

Michael Nau and Harry Nilsson tend to remind one of each other so good to hear them together. Late night melancholy crooning par excellence.

Superior ambient drones from Portland's Golden Retriever. Wonderful Indian inflected folk music from Yorkston Thorne Khan.

And Brona McVittie from County Down with some beautiful harp work in a rarefied folk setting.

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The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 453
Tues June 27 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30…

This is the Kit – Moonshine freeze (Rough Trade)

A perfectly wonderful twinkling folk boogie from Ms Stables and friends.

Things that are good.

The circling guitar pattern is adorned with a Buffalo Springfield-esque guitar shimmer.

The lovely shuffle groove is capped off by the most amenable horn section heard in some time.

It seems so simple until you realise that it isn’t.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s simple or not.

The beguiling melody hits the spot.

It is a beautiful thing.

Playlist 452 - June 20 2017

A couple of Liverpool Psych Fest bands on the show this week, always a great bill there at the end of September.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, making a sublime kosmische noise with handclaps even.

The Comet Is Coming, making a startling gripping psychedelic stew.

Also Julian Cope in great voice on his new album; Edwyn Collins & Carwyn Ellis singing about a bird, after Bert Jansch; Valerie June beguiling on an astral plane and playing Cork soon.

And the magic of Joe Hisaishi and one of his legendary Studio Ghibli soundtracks, this one from the masterpiece that is Spirited Away.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 452
Tues June 20 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here


Michael Nau – I root (from the album Some twist, Full Time Hobby)

Sublime hazy memories of love from Maryland in the US...

... as if Harry Nilsson turned his mind to happier fuzzier times.

There’s very little detail to list here – a one and a half note guitar figure, a snare roll, a ride cymbal, a dream of a voice – but really the story is more to do with the atmosphere.

Languid is a word.

Sleepy maybe.

Intimate for sure.

Whichever one you like it is at arms length from the cold hard world.

A beautiful sheltered miniature.

Playlist 451 - June 13 2017

Some genius Go Betweens on the show this week, just cos, which opens with the immortal line - "remembered your name evidently you've forgotten mine".

There's a strand of their greatness about Melbourne band Terry. Something louche something rudimentary yet thrilling.

There's a new album soon from Michael Nau who makes the most sublime blissed out narco pop with an absolute angel of a voice. It's all too lovely in a quietly devastating Bob Lind or Harry Nilsson kind of way.

Which fits very well with Mr Lee Hazlewood and one of his many wonderful songs of love and regret this one from 1971.

And new music from Dent May carving a white soul banger as if Jens Lekman jammed with Hot Chip who had lost their synths and a wonderful uplifting thing it is with dreamy guest vocals from Frankie Cosmos.

More on these pages.

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uplifting pop music of every creed…

Look Blue Go Purple – Still bewitched (Flying Nun Records, reissue)

In a way this is the sound of the past.

The mid 1980s.

Flying Nun Records.

A hazy but thrilling jangle.

A band of women.


Nostalgia can be beautiful.

But another way of looking at it (or listening to it) is that this is the sound of now.

Psychedelic pop with gauzy back of the room harmonies.

Without this the likes of Warpaint wouldn’t exist.

In the 80s they operated in a parallel world to The Pixies.

One where they used flutes.

A more democratic one, maybe.

The yang to the yin of The Chills.

That fed into all kinds of what was known as indie.

A wonderful uncaring looseness.

They also call it unselfconscious.

With some hard to pinpoint connection to The Go Betweens.

A glorious thing to sustain you in hard times.

Playlist 450 - June 6 2017

A couple of great Thrill Jockey releases on the show this week, both duos.

House and Land are Sally Anne Morgan and Sarah Henson, both steeped in Appalachian folk music and here giving a haunting take on that tradition.

Golden Retriever are from Portland and consist of analog synthesist Matt Carlson and bass clarinetist Jonathan Sielaff. They make glorious slow moving ambient drones, this one appropriately titled 'Pelagic tremor'.

Matthew Bourne and the title track from his upcoming new album. Another brilliantly arresting spare piano piece with cello drones.

Also The Magnetic Fields singing a song to 1969 and namechecking Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin's '69 Année Erotique, which we also heard.

And Edward Williams with one of the great (neglected) soundtrack albums as given a life by Trunk Records - utterly otherworldly and deeply moving.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


Matthew Bourne – Isotach (The Leaf Label)

Another sublime cut of ruminative piano from the upcoming new album.

In among the spare plaintive notes are the most beautiful cello swells.

Ambient ebbs and floes.

A deep register and a harmonic upper note working together.

Like a rumbling sea with its own waves crashing.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that get you through and this is one of the best of those.

Isotach by Matthew Bourne

Playlist 449 - May 30 2017

We played an extract from the new Kamasi Washington single a few weeks ago. It's an epic freewheeling piece in roughly three movements, featuring choir, orchestra, band, the works. This week, for your pleasure, we have the full wonderful 13 minutes.

Around that we had a selection of somewhat like minded gems.

Ennio Morricone, also genius employer of vocals in (mostly) instrumentals. Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, influenced by Il Maestro for sure, but also dipping into some kind of deep Brazilian kosmimsche. The High Llamas, on tour in Ireland soon which is marvellous news. The Beach Boys, bringing a little baroque to contemplation of the universe and deeply moving.

And Yorkston Thorne Khan, with another sublime crossing of western and Indian styles, playful yet still full of feeling.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: Unde…