Mixtape Mondays: The Mick's Tape
[Editor's note: Cover images of albums previously reviewed on the DV have been linked to the review.]
In light of the oncoming train of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations headed our way, here is my contribution: something to fix your head the morning after, remove the whiskey burn from the back of your throat and get you back smiling once again. Take up your annual break once again from traditional barrage of Pogues and Dubliners that rest assured will be seething from every Irish Rover, O’Shea’s and Doyle’s pub that has managed to pervade wherever it is you live. Hopefully you’ll stop resenting a culture that made you drink your weight in green beer, without even stopping to question its greenness. So I’m providing a helpful collection of nifty Irish songs to get you back on track, in a salute to the musical greats: past, present and miraculously prolonged. You can’t stay mad for long. You love us.
“I Fall Apart” – Rory Gallagher
Kicking things off with a downer, but with good reason; let’s put things in perspective: however awful you’re feeling right now it’s nothing compared to what it would be if Mr. Gallagher, a man responsible for the cold sweat on beer bottles, had been your partner in crime last night. With its morose opening verse of “Like a cat that’s playing with a ball of twine / That you call my heart. / Oh, but baby is it so hard / To tell the two apart? / And so slowly you unwind me / ‘Til I fall apart,” this song will soon have you replacing headache with heartache.
“Chocolate” – Snow Patrol
Since their success with 2006’s Eyes Open, anything by Snow Patrol pre-“Chasing Cars” seems to be severely overlooked. This track taken from the band’s third album Final Straw is a great way to start any morning, even those in the “after” category. Driven by drums and a catching leading riff, the energy of “Chocolate” is balanced by the discernible mellow styling of singer Gary Lightbody. A pretty perfect introduction to a grossly ignored back catalogue.
“Rocky Took A Lover” – Bell XI
Bell XI’s 2005 album Flock heralded a step forward from the band’s Juniper/Damien Rice roots. “Rocky” is a stunningly beautiful song written in morning after dialogue and humming with chimed melodies. And while you might feel like the awkward third person unfortunate enough to have found themselves stuck in a room mid-domestic spat, lyrics such as “Well you weren’t so nice last night / You’re such an asshole when you’re drunk / He said ‘At least I’m ok in the mornings,” will keep your ears at bay.
“Snowy Atlas Mountains” – Fionn Regan
Journeying to the centre of the mixtape’s mellowing middle is Fionn Regan’s “Snowy Atlas Mountains.” A blend of rippling acoustic guitar and bare vocals echoing Sean Nós melodies that is guaranteed to revive all faith in simplicity. In the true Celtic tradition of depressingly nostalgic storytelling, this song is paced like a dream, creating something that is mysterious, sad and vulnerable before ending all too soon in a flutter of picking.
“Dancing In The Moonlight” – Smashing Pumpkins
Thin Lizzy warranted a mention somewhere on this list and while including this song is a bit of a cheat, the Pumpkins’ achingly bare acoustic cover is arguably as good as the original. “Dancing In The Moonlight” stands as a classic for a reason; it has that accessible charm that gives a song staying power. Opening with a slinking bass riff that seems grafted in listeners from birth and following through with simplistic lyrics of young romance, it’s impossible not to fall for. This cover is carried off by Billy Corgan’s sultry downbeat vocals and doesn’t fail to disappoint.
“Never Talk” – Ham Sandwich
This is just one of the many gems offered on Ham Sandwich’s 2008 debut album Carry The Meek. “Never Talk” sees mechanical-sounding power chords give a background to clean cut vocals, with contrasting harmonies provided by the fresh sound of Niamh Farrell and Podge McNamee’s bare baritone. From its stirring intro to its crashing chorus to an overture of harmony, your attention will be grabbed by the band’s signature textured sound..
“I Will Follow” – U2
If you can bring yourself to stomach any U2 in this present climate it’s best to start small. Go with the likeable anthems. Or try to remember a time when Bono could be vaguely tolerated. My pick would be “I Will Follow,” a song pulsing with all that is ‘80s. As the first song released from their debut album Boy, it’s sure to have come before whatever album that served as the end of your U2 relationship..
“Cellophane” – That Petrol Emotion
With its playful carnival-like waltzing beats over polar opposite lyrics, this song manages to create something both nonchalant and melancholic. Folk music infused with accordions is probably as far traditional as you’re going to want to risk while you’re still licking your Paddy’s Day wounds, but the laid-back “Cellophane” by Northern Irish band That Petrol Emotion is worth the venture..
“Older Chests” – Damien Rice
Damien Rice is a songwriter I look on as an old soul infused with the bitterness of modernity. Taken from Rice’s debut album, this track embodies that – and, musically, could be easily overlooked were it not for its bittersweet lyrics. It’s hard to tell which image of Irish society, past or present, is portrayed bleaker in “Older Chests,” but it seems to capture each mood perfectly.
“Sweet Sweet Kisses” – Duke Special
Duke Special has far limboed under the bar of recognition well-deserved. “Sweet Sweet Kisses,” from his album Songs From The Deep Forest, is a perfect capsule of the Duke’s unique cabaret style mixed with vocals fringed with a Northern Irish accent, an upbeat sense of closure to send you on your way.
See? Yeah, you're tired of fending off frostbite of the soul (and appendages, if you're one of my aforementioned Canadian buddies). But you're not alone. People everywhere are battling emotional agony, existential angst and finicky thermostats. And some of them are cranking out great tunes while they're at it. Keep your chin up and your headphones on. Annoying summer novelty singles will be here before you know it.
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