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A Conversation With Cathal Coughlan

As the very first moments of my conversation with Cathal Coughlan began I knew that 60 minutes were not going to be enough time to enjoy what this adventurous musician had to say. Born and raised in Cork, Ireland Cathal began singing in the late 70s and by 1980 he had met Sean O’Hagan and formed Microdisney. A band that was hard to (thankfully) slot into a nice neat genre. On Discogs, Cathal is described rather aptly, as an anti-Bono. His music and lyrics some may call challenging, on the other hand, I was fascinated and loved playing Microdisney alongside the plethora of post-punk-one-hit- wonders that cursed new music in the early 80s. The temptation to slide easily into a lovable New Wave outfit was enough for Mr. Coughlan to see Microdisney dwindle down to a two-piece with O’Hagen and eventually reassemble as The Fatima Mansions, making, splendid yet hard to categorize music. The eventual demise of The Fatima Mansions in the mid-90s led to Cathal stepping away from being in a band to releasing solo albums, taking part in collaborations, and making guest appearances. For a while, he was involved in musical theatre, mostly in France. In 2006 he was described in The Irish Times as the ‘genius of Irish rock’. Cathal has been back in the studio recently and the result is his new album, Song Of Co-Aklan.

You’ll hear the title cut, Song Of Co-Aklan during my chat with Cathal, you’ll also learn why I’m determined to have him back on the show. 

Norman B 1.23.2021

Playlist

  1. Microdisney – Birthday Girl
  2. The Fatima Mansions – Blues For Ceausescu
  3. Cathal Coughlan – Song Of Co-Aklan

LEM Vol 217

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 216

As I write this, there are just 4 days to go before the presidency of Trump is over. Yes, we are jubilant that at last, he will be gone. Yet, there is no doubt his visage will remain oh so prominent in all areas of media. And, the dreadful vestige of the most corrupt and incompetent administration in history will be with us for a long, long time. So, we here at Life Elsewhere Towers will dutifully try to never ever mention his name again, and that’s a promise.

We begin Volume 216 with a jaunt over to France to hear from Paris-based, Tender Tones with, In Dreamed Lives a cut from their debut EP, Youth Retirement Club. Manon Deruytere & Maxime Pargaud made the smart decision to sign up with Shoredive Records who happen to be on our list of favorite labels. This one is a co-release with Somewhere Cold Records. Over in Brooklyn, you may spot Liberty Styles doing some fancy footwork around Park Slope or maybe Greenpoint. You see, Liberty says in her bio, first that she is a tap dancer, then vocalist followed by producer. Listen carefully to Roam Wide and you’ll hear the tapping of Liberty. She wrote and produced her EP which is conveniently titled, Roam Wide. Over in Norway Jez_Ebel aka Isabelle Aimee Johanessen says this about her song, In Her Eyes, “This is about a really turbulent relationship I had. In the song, I talk about how it is hard loving someone who won’t let you completely in. When we hurt, we can sometimes be hard to pity, because of our anger. What we don’t always remember though, is that anger often means hurt. But what do you do when the person you love keeps pushing you away? I wanted the music video to show a queer romance between two girls. I really wanted to put the emphasis on friendship, because I often feel as though we over sensationalize the romantic aspect of relationships, when in reality the most important aspect is the camaraderie. The music video basically an homage to my friendship with Vera (the love interest in the video). What you see on the screen, is who we are”. German trio, Lambs & Wolves say their album, No Party At All was recorded in the summer of 2020 with Julian Tröndle (vocals, piano, harmonica), Louis Groß (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, drums, percussion) & Stefan ‘Joe’ Bercher (acoustic guitar, backing vocals). The cut we selected, Strange Ritual is an excellent example of the smart collaboration these lads use to create almost laid-back songs. The piano comes to the fore on a number of tracks while the banjo fits in perfectly when needed. Well-considered production and arranging. Do take note of the artwork by Berlin artist Eric Tiedt. A powerful piano introduces Katey Morley’s The Guy Who Breaks Things from her EP, Hearts & Heads & Thoughts & Deeds. The Toronto-based composer and multi-instrumentalist plays dulcimer, autoharp, keys, and percussion. The video for this cut makes for interesting viewing. Jane Rose along with her band, The Deadend Boys don’t mess about, you’ll get the idea immediately when delve into Over It their latest album. You can be sure when the Boss Lady tells you to get up and dance, she means it. Fucked Up explains why I’d pay good money to go spend a night in their company. The LP, Glen Echo was written, performed, and recorded by Azita Youssefi. Performing under the moniker of simply Azita, the Chicago musician takes us back in time with her references to good ol’ edgy rock, soul, and r ’n’ b. Good songwriting going on here. There is something genuinely enchanting about Oska’s voice. Honeymoon Phase from her EP of the same name will have you listening again. All of the songs here sound as if they must be based on real experiences. Listen carefully to this Wien, Austria-based artist. Next up, two songs, You’ll Never Know How Much I Love You and Queer Magic from Three Headed Elephant out of Toronto. This curio caught my attention on first listen, since then I will admit to having been trying to reason why I like it so much. That’s a compliment. Wolfgang Barbosa-Rocha, also simply known as Wolfgang strikes a pose on the cover in a lovely photo that only adds to the enigma of this LP. Rob, Reece, and Annabelle are also involved in this recording I encourage you to search out. Countryesque music has long been a fascination for UK musicians, Maz Corry I’m sure will agree. Her new album, Postcards Home displays a charming gift for exploring sounds that could easily have originated thousands of miles away from her home in England. We chose When The World Was Ours because you’ll hear Maz display a unique gift for capturing a poignant sound with her voice and musicianship. Detroit artist, Aura Zorba now located in Portland, Oregon offers us the original and five remixes of The Searcher. We chose the Orange Crate Art Remix. The upcoming album, Glitter Days will be out on Shoredive Records, and that’s a very good thing. Coincidently, we now go over to Detroit to hear from Clinic Stars with Who Will Stop The Rain from their EP 10,000 Dreams. Christian Molik is on vocals, guitar, bass, and drums, while Giovanna Lenski is on vocals, keyboard, and xylophone As much as I try to avoid genres, what should we call this one, whisper music? Listen to the whole EP in one sitting. Gorgeous. A good compilation is a wonderful way to get to hear a variety of music you may not otherwise listen to. From Germany, At Sea Compilations have released La Danse Macabre 9, and they say this, La Danse Macabre 9 is a moody and melancholic compilation created within a few weeks during the second Corona lockdown here in Germany. The idea was to create nostalgic vibes and put the darkwave aspect into the center, introducing creative underground artists and newcomers. The result is a deep journey through the current Goth scene.” You’ll hear Logical Tears out of France with Ordinary Lies. Enjoy!

LEM Vol 216 Playlist

  1. Tender Tones – In Dreamed Lives
  2. Liberty Styles – Roam Wide
  3. Jez_Ebel – In Her Eyes
  4. Lambs & Wolves – Strange Ritual
  5. Katey Morley – The Guy Who Breaks Things
  6. Jane Rose & The Deadend Boys – Fucked Up
  7. Azita – Shooting Birds Out Of The Sky
  8. Oska – Honeymoon Phase
  9. Three Headed Elephant – You’ll Never Know How Much I Love You
  10. Three Headed Elephant – Queer Magic
  11. Maz Corry – When The World Was Ours
  12. Aura Zorba – The Searcher (Orange Crate Art Remix)
  13. Clinic Stars – Who Will Stop The Rain
  14. Logical Tears – Ordinary Lies

The artwork for this volume: Coleen Nettles 1949 – 2010 “Estate Drug #3” 5′ x 5’6” x 2” Automotive paint on laminated hardboard. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 216

2020 Special Mentions – Life Elsewhere Music Vol 214

Finally, 2020 is over and here we are as if blinking at unfamiliar bright sunlight, wondering what the new year will bring us. Here at Life Elsewhere Towers the abundance of wonderful new releases throughout 2020 could for a moment belie how rubbish the past twelve months have been. Being in isolation has been the prompt for so many creative folk to get off their arses and – well, create! We avoid Best Of Lists because every cut we play at Life Elsewhere Music has to be Best, otherwise, we wouldn’t play them, so we gave you Not The Best Of 2020. To start the New Year, we are giving a big nod to those who deserve a Special Mention

Miranda McCarthy – From Loving You on first play we were singing along with this song. Yes, it does sound familiar, yet original.  Miranda says, “The song was inspired by the wildness of West Cork and a life in profound transformation.”

Eka –  Shadow Play this song arrived unsolicited from Ekaterine, aka Eka with a wonderful descriptive message, “I’m a French visual artist with multicultural background and influences (French, Vietnamese, Russian and I spent my childhood in Brazil)” Eka went on to tell us all about her creative work. Her music caught our attention, in part because of her slight, lilting accent.  

Tears On Demand – If I Was Alive this is an outstanding example why you should investigate the releases on Shoredive Records. This is entrepreneurial, Nicolas Pierre Wardell, boss of the label’s own outfit. Clearly Nico is fluent in how to make an engaging song. The man’s work is appealing and his label must not be overlooked. 

Wu-Lu – Black Classical Music this cut from the Overgrown Interludes album is a perfect example why you need to spend time carefully listening to creativity of Wu-Lu.

Gad Whip – Sundown since we first heard these lads and their uncompromising music it was obvious they would be on our radar. But, please Gad Whip put out more releases often and send us some videos of you playing live. We want to imagine we are there with you having a mad dance around the place. Simply put, damn good intelligent music to have a knees-up to.

Benin City – Get Your Own and while we are talking about being in the dance. Josh, Shanaz & Tom aka, Benin City have that well covered. It would safe to say, every release from Benin City becomes a big fave for us. This trio know how to work their magic. Exceptional, well-crafted music with a message. In Get Your Own they tackle Covid as only Benin City can. 

Phoebe Coco  Different here is a talented in singer-songwriter-musician who has put our a number of superb releases. There is something about Phoebe output that prompts me to suggest she work with a producer who has another angle on her abilities. I’m thinking Olly Shelton of Pela fame, or maybe Adrian Sherwood. Your thoughts?

Tasha But There’s Still The Moon we keep returning to this cut, trying to analyze why it it works so well. Tasha says “For me, the moon is reliable, beautiful, it’s anchoring.” Written in early 2019, this single takes an optimistic message of gentleness. And, that we agree with.

Talitha Ferri Home she is out of Copenhagen, the album is, Get Well Soon. About this song, Talitha writes, “It was written in retrospect, at a time when I was able to appreciate the fragile moment that is falling in love. That sacred little dance we love to drag on and on, clinging to and resenting the space that stands between us.” Beneath that fragility, is a determined songwriter.

This Is The Kit – This Is What You Did this is the musical project of Kate Stables and whoever joins her in locations such as Winchester, Paris and Bristol. Her album, Off Off On showcases clever songwriting and production skills. There is an energy to be savored. 

Happy Speedy – Fresh Air “I like writing sad lyrics to help me through my feelings (or two),” says Eimear Coyle. The Irish-born singer, now located in Glasgow goes on to say she started the band to help her work through some tough times. With Glasgow friends Kieran Coyle, Rosie Pearse, Siobhain Ma and Connell King, their debut LP, You’re Doing OK is one of those hidden gems you should not pass over.

Miriam Ingram – A Tiny White Dot this poignant song from the album, Spells was produced by her son, Diolmhain Ingram-Roche and a fine job he does too of taking us through a psychedelic, visceral, textured maze of vocal loops and layered synths. Miriam’s observations on life are acute. Essential listening.

Keeno – I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison) real Drum and Bass, Dubstep or Grime have not made it onto mainstream radio in America, which is why we like to make a point of selecting first-class cuts to wake up the neighbors with. Hospital Records out of the UK have been releasing brilliant cuts since 1996. Use this cut to lead you to discover more essential releases. Keeno’s I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison) is so infectious, you’ll want to hear more.

Winsome – Untitled here is a fine example of how minimalist digital reggae can be so emotive. Winsome Benjamin was a popular Lover’s Rock chanteuse on the UK scene in the 80s. This 12” was probably originally released a few years back but rereleased to help raise donations to the northeast London migrant action (NELMA) solidarity hardship fund.

Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip to end this Special Mentions show an intriguing release. Eel Drip is about honouring the dead, the passing of lives within you and beyond you,” says the London-based artist. She continues “It’s about physical or emotional change, acknowledging fears, and being true to yourself… reaching your full potential.” Words to ponder as we move into a new year. The accompanying, disturbing video was directed by Agnes Haus and inspired by artist Francesca Woodman’s 1970s series of nude self-portraits with Eels.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to Life Elsewhere Music. Make sure you let us know what you think of the show. Send your thoughts to normanb@lifeelsewhere.co

Playlist

  1. Miranda McCarthy  From Loving You
  2. EKA – Shadow Play
  3. Tears On Demand – If I Was Alive
  4. Wu-Lu – Black Classical Music
  5. Gad Whip – Sundown
  6. Benin City – Get Your Own
  7. Phoebe Coco – Different
  8. Tasha – But There’s Still The Moon
  9. Tabitha Ferri – Home
  10. This Is The Kit – This Is What You Did
  11. Happy Speedy – Fresh Air
  12. Miriam Ingram – A Tiny White Dot
  13. Keeno – I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison)
  14. Winsome – Untitled (SUG001-B)
  15. Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip

Happy New Year!

The artwork for this volume is by Jamie Singleton “Beautiful Brian” 1997 6’ x 8’ (detail) Giclée print on archival paper of a manipulated video image. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection. The image of the late Brian Jones has nothing to do with this selection of music. We just happen to love it!

LEM Vol 214

Not The Best Of 2020 – Life Elsewhere Music Vol 213

It’s simple because we curate only the best at Life Elsewhere Music, our last volume for this year is Not The Best Of 2020!

And, what an amazing number of really superb releases. Was it because of being in isolation? The fact is, week after week, brilliant new releases came our way. Far too many to include in a 60-minute show. Every cut selected for Life Elsewhere Music was the best, so, we present the most played cuts in 2020 here at Life Elsewhere Towers in a non-stop carefully curated one whole hour of Not The Best Of 2020*.

Playlist
  1. Folk Devils – Forever
  2. Slum Of Legs – Love’s Not Enough
  3. Sylken Somers – Tenderhead Tenderheart
  4. Amaria Hamadalher – Tamidtine
  5. Phil Parfitt – Bones Cold
  6. Otta – Near Enough A Woman
  7. Pillow Queens – Holy Show
  8. Rosehip Teahouse – I Meant What I Said
  9. Nuha Ruby Ra – Sparky
  10. October & The Eyes – All My Love
  11. King Hannah – Crème Brûlée
  12. Denise Sherwood – Uncertain Times
  13. Underhairz – To You With A Smile
  14. Porridge Radio – 7 Seconds
  15. Pela – South Of

The artwork for this volume is by Shane Compton “Inch” 2016 12” x 8” mixed media on laminated wood. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

*If your release was not selected for this volume, you can be sure it appears on past volumes for 2020. Listen here

Show Vol 213

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 212

This volume of Life Elsewhere Music will be the last of new releases for 2020, a year we all desperately want to be over. Yet, it must be noted that despite the extraordinary events of the past twelve months was the abundance of excellent new music. And this volume is confirmation. To begin, Covid affected everyone, especially musicians including, Yazmin Lacey & Congi. The duo out of Nottingham recorded in their homes during lockdown and by finishing each song in ‘two takes’, they say, “We kept the process as raw and organic as possible.” Hence, the EP title, Two Takes. Follow Me a deceptively powerful song about a relationship. Don’t let the bell-chimes trick you into not listening carefully. Baby Blue from Frazier Blue has familiar air, yet the smart production and use of different synth pads result in a mysterious love song. I want to hear more from this Sydney-based artist. There is something happening in Dublin. A beautiful city that appears to be festooned with creative talent. Gemma Dunleavy is a terrific ambassador with the release of her EP, Up De Flats. Commenting on those obnoxious blue police lights, so often seen late at night agitating council estates in Stop The Lights, Gemma asserts her opinion in a well-crafted song. A tip-of-the-hat must go to Brendan Doherty on drums on this track. Gemma Dunleavy says, “These songs are dedicated to the people of Sheriff Street flats and the North Wall Community.” You can hear some of the voices of kids from the estate throughout the EP. Some names for bands work so perfectly, but they may mislead you into a preconceived idea of their music, here’s a fine example, Space Basement Cult, a trio from Leeds in Yorkshire. You’ll hear, Phil, The Self-Centered Weatherman which may have you checking off a long list of influences, especially when you take a listen to the other side, Me, The Self-Centered Lover. Influences aside, clearly these lads know what they’re doing, after all, they say they make “Wonk pop”. Recently, Shoegaze has been motivating intuitive young musicians in Seoul, South Korea to have a go. With the album, Fogesque, Fog who label themselves, Seoul City Shoegaze exhibit their enthusiasm. We selected Dehumidifier which builds to an impressive wall-of-noise. Sin is on the almost whispered vocals and guitars, Ryu is on guitars, Oh plays the bass, and 9SUK takes care of the drums and is responsible for the artwork. Next, hold on, while I rave for a moment or two…honestly, I have no idea why I have not had them on the show earlier, but to makeup, you’ll hear two cuts from Rosehip Teahouse’s Fine EP. I Meant What I Said and I’m Not Whole, if there were time, I’d play the whole EP, it’s that good. The Cardiff-based band is Faye Rogers, Tony Williams, Josh Dickins, Will Dickins, and Alice Low. “A twinkling descent into sadness.” They say about their music and Faye Rogers writes, “The songs cover love, losing love, fighting an eating disorder that wanted to take me over completely, my unregulated emotions, dreams (both literal and metaphorical) finding some sort of meaning amongst it all and coming out the other side, slightly stronger as a result of it.” I am entranced. Adelaide is the cut you’ll hear from the debut EP, Devil’s Rain from Maria BC. Almost apologetically, they say the EP was recorded in their apartment during lockdown in NYC – they usually sing much louder but had to keep the noise down, so as not to disturb the neighbors. And I say, I’m just thankful you made the recording. Beautiful! Maria BC adds, “I hope people find some intimacy in these songs.” Noé Solange is a London based producer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and (I believe) photographer. Her heritage is Dutch/Indonesian and being raised around the world, Noé pulls cultural threads from her upbringing. This all comes together in the gently persuasive love song, Falling from her EP Bound. Top marks for the production. On her website, Seraphina Simone says, “Writes music to make bad decisions to.” Well, I made the good decision to include, Blue Devil in this volume. Seraphina is based in London, but she grew up between London and LA, she writes, “My songs draw on the syrupy seediness of Cali glamour and murky, neon-lit London grit.” You are advised to check out more from Seraphina. Next, we go to Chicago where Serena Isioma doesn’t mess around in asking, Why Am I So Toxic. Thankfully, gender-fluid songs are being heard and enjoyed beyond limited audiences. On their EP, The Leo Sun Sets, Serena Isioma ably demonstrates they are a competent songwriter and performer who can deliver a message. Spoken word artists are coming to the fore again and Sophie Sparham is garnering much-deserved praise. She partners with saxophonist, Christopher Gregory for this album, Sunrise Over Aldi. Hailing from Derby, Sophie will probably be surprised to learn her distinctive dialect sounds exotic to the American ear. You’ll hear the title cut, but make sure you check the rest of the album out. Here is that question of name choices again, John Edgar has a beautiful voice, plays excellent piano, and writes gorgeous plaintive songs. And, he uses the moniker, The Dawdler which is, I presume is intentionally misleading. John says he is well acquainted with the darker sides of life, his new EP, Sign of Growth, touches on subjects such as death, loneliness, grief, and alcoholism. Don’t Get Blue is the cut we have chosen. A large thumbs up to the other musicians involved in this album. Excellent. Last but certainly not least are Caitlin Loney and Peter Woodford from Montreal who perform here as Freelove Fenner. Their album, Punishment Zone is a well-produced, somewhat restrained affair, showing off superb songwriting and performing. Shoulder Season is a fine example. Our next volume will the big finalé for 2020 where once again we present, Not The Best Of. That’s right, far too much incredibly good music has come our way in the last 12 months to make a Best Of list. Instead, we will give you the most-played at Life Elsewhere Towers. 

Thank you for listening to volume 212 of Life Elsewhere Music. Happy! Merry! Jolly!

LEM Vol 212 Playlist
  1. Yazmin Lacey & Congi – Follow Me
  2. Frazier Blue – Baby Blue
  3. Gemma Dunleavy – Stop The Lights
  4. Space Basement Cult – Phil, The Self-Centered Weatherman
  5. Fog – Dehumidifier
  6. Rosehip Teahouse – I Meant What I Said
  7. Rosehip Teahouse – I’m Not Whole
  8. Maria BC – Adelaide
  9. Noé Solange – Falling
  10. Seraphina Simone – Blue Devil
  11. Serena Isioma – Why Am I So Toxic
  12. Sophie Sparham & Christopher Gregory – Sunrise Over Aldi
  13. The Dawdler – Don’t Get Blue
  14. Freelove Fenner – Shoulder Season

The artwork for this volume is by Shane Compton “Axiom #4” 2016 12” x 8” mixed media on laminated wood. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 212

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