Showing posts from 2017

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.

Track 5 in this playlist

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.

More on these pages.

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.

More on these pages.

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.

The Underground of Happiness
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…

Jane Weaver – Modern kosmology (Fire Records)

A marvellous album of kosmische pop from the Mancunian... which the meaning of this word kosmische is front and centre. That’s to say, the album deals with existential concerns - the meaning of the moves we make, the dances we do, who we are and why we are here on this funny old planet.

Nowhere is this clearer or more poignant than on the intoxicating lead single ‘Slow motion’ which opens with these immortal lines (as close as I can make out).

In this landscape we are fading
shiny particles and shadings
what’s continuous and clearer through the skies

like a science fiction inner monologue drifting out to space.

And then

I want to feel the life we left in the sun

while the synths swoop and dive.

It’s an exquisite moment of yearning and nostalgia and of feeling for the universe and it’s amplified even more in the context of the other songs.

The thrilling motorik beat of opening song ‘HAK’.

The beautiful Sadier-esque vocal rounds of ‘Did you see butterflie…

Playlist 448 - May 23 2017

We didn't have Ariana Grande on the show this week but we did have a great contemporary Manchester artist. Jane Weaver's new album is a brilliant mix of psych pop and synth driven kosmische and fittingly there's a heartfelt and poignant tone to it.

Moondog is always good music to lift the spirit, sitting somewhere between classical and folk but not neatly in either camp.

Some folk cuts. Joan Shelley with the most delicate and sublime of folk voices, James Elkington with a lovely baroque folk twist of fingerpicked guitar with cello, Harry Taussig & Max Ochs with a light playful touch of American Priitive.

Lee Hazlewood from his Swedish sojourn, always great to hear.

And from the English Weather compilation, a brilliant folk-exotica track from The Roger Webb Sound.

More on these pages.

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

Seti The First – The wolves of summerland (Paper Palace Records)

A second album of thrilling instrumentals from the Dublin-based duo of Kevin Murphy and Thomas Haugh, whose first album Melting cavalry still stands as one of the best instrumental albums of this century (at least).

The main instruments are ostensibly cello and percussion but even at that not used in ways you might expect. The cello in particular is brought into unusual territory with bends, slaps and scrapes combining brilliantly with longer bowed notes to make a fascinating sonic landscape.

‘Pig iron prophet’ starts with a furious double time backbeat over staccato effects while trumpet and bass drones build the intrigue.

There’s the wonderful widescreen cinematic atmosphere of ‘Kingdom of crooked mirrors’, an orchestra of zithers and strings played out over a marching drumbeat.

The swooning chamber pop of ‘Century flowers’ and ‘Glass soldiers parade’.

The noirish hum of ‘A mechanical Turk’, the genius deployment of high hats and cello harmonics during ‘In the Valle…

Manu Louis – Kermesse Machine (Igloo Records)

A beguiling mixture of electro, brass band music, 8-bit and any number of other styles from the Belgian artist.

The glorious brass influence asserts itself in the building opener ‘Music from the hot dog stand’, toy drums and organ stabs giving way to a furious atmosphere of snare rolls with frantic brass action anchored by a great parping tuba.

The filthy synth bassline of ‘Tchouang-Tseu (was at the Kermesse of M. Ha)’ screams electro but the melody and other top notes have more of an 8-bit feel. All good.

‘Karaoke’ has a wonderful off kilter backbeat, jerky, restless and capable of ripping up any dancefloor (sounding vaguely like a Balkan band transplanted to the Caribbean), the brass again adding a great insinuating undertone.

The rest of the album contains other pleasures – the ominous syncopations and noise distortions of ‘Playback’, the Franco-jazz meets bar room singalong of ‘Sylvie, reviens’ and more – but this opening salvo really is killer.

It’s a rowdy, joyo…

Playlist 447 - May 16 2017

Slowdive have a first new album in over 20 years. It's great and picks up seamlessly from where they left off. We heard from it and from their shoegaze confreres of the 80s/90s Cocteau Twins, the magnificent swirl of the album Heaven or Las Vegas.

The charmingly named Snapped Ankles (pic) have released track 2 and it's another stonking piece of strident electro, not without melody and other intrigue however.

Another gorgeous Flying Nun memory from their reissue of Look Blue Go Purple; new music from This Is The Kit, a beautiful kosmische jam; The Magnetic Fields with memoir, Stonewall riots, feather boas, Serge Gainsbourg, Judy Garland and irresistible tunes.

And Manu Louis with a twisted kind of fairground funk with some brass band looney tunes thrown in which is wonderful.

More on these pages.

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

Kamasi Washington – Truth (from the Harmony of Difference EP, Young Turks)

There’s a wonderful freewheeling atmosphere to this epic new music from the Los Angelean composer and bandleader...

...using the great and simple effect of massed voices, without harmonies and in unison, belting out a rousing melody and reaching a thrilling crescendo by the end.

Also these things.

The beauty of one riff and letting it breathe to the full.

The orchestral majesty of the interlocking undertones and overtones.

The stoic brass, twinkling xylophones and skittering drums.

Not even the unexpected appearance of some Santana style guitar flourishes late on can ruin the mood.

Inspirational is a word.

Playlist 446 - May 9 2017

Kamasi Washington has a new EP out, called Harmony and Difference. We heard roughly one movement from the lead track 'Truth', it's about 13 minutes long in all (listen to it all below). It's a wonderful freewheeling affair with choir, orchestra, constantly shifting sands of drums, guitars, xylophones, saxophone of course, and more.

Some beautiful BBC Radiophonic Workshop strangeness from Delia Derbyshire & Anthony Newley. Jane Weaver filling our lugs with great propulsions. Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble with the drifting kosmische/psych pop.

And some Appalachian a capella from House and Land, primal and ancient and quite strange in its way.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 446
Tues May 9 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at

Playlist 445 - May 2 2017

Some Flying Nun news this week. Dunedin band Look Blue Go Purple reissue 3 x 80s EPs through the legendary NZ label. It's juicy jangly and swoonsome psych pop.

Howe Gelb is back on tour, bringing Lonna Kelley and Naim Amor for company. Expect sumptuous lounge tones with to die for smoky vocals and from Naim a French jazz meets Tucson swing.

Also getting the reissue treatment is Bert Jansch on Earth Recordings. We took the title track from his wonderful final studio album The black swan (2006).

C Duncan is on tour around now. Transcendental vocal magic.

And Whyte Horses making genius thrilling psych pop.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 445
Tues May 2 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here…

Matthew Bourne – Candela (for Sascha Heeney) (The Leaf Label)

Aching piano instrumental from the North of England artist ahead of a new album in the summer.

Matthew Bourne has spent the last few years exploring the edges of improv with Moog workouts, audio visual collaborations and Kraftwerk interpretations (sometimes all at the same time).

While those were fascinating, there’s something very satisfying about this return to piano, to territory reminiscient of his wonderful Montauk Variations album from 2012.

Plaintive and spare piano notes gather long contemplative cello drones leading to a surprisingly suspenseful atmosphere.

It’s a thing of beauty and I can’t wait to hear more from the album.

Candela (for Sascha Heeney) by Matthew Bourne

Playlist 444 - Apr 25 2017

A selection of dreamy kosmische cuts this week.

Jane Weaver making something vulnerable and really beautiful out of interweaving synths.

Percolator with lovely gauzy shoegaze textures.

The Saxophones have a veil thin dream pop.

And Matthew Bourne is back with sublime instrumental piano music.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 444
Tues Apr 25 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Jane Weaver – Slow motion (playing The Lexington, London, May 22)
Percolator – Yellow fire (playing Coughlan's, Cork, Apr 28; Bello Bar, Dublin, Apr 29)
Autre Monde – Customs
Me and The Bees – Spinnin
The Saxophones – If you’re on the water
Nightlands – Depending on you
Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest…

Cormac O Caoimh – born (from the album Shiny silvery things)

A gorgeous wolf in sheep’s clothing.

An unsettling wrongfooting piece of songwriting.

Wearing a sublime French jazz costume.

you could have been born someone else

What a brilliantly double edged ocean of possibility.

shiny silvery things by Cormac O Caoimh

Percolator – Sestra (Penske Recordings)

Delicious mixture of the propulsion of Stereolab and the textures and crunch of My Bloody Valentine from this Dublin band’s debut album.

There are many things to love about the album – the sense of adventure, the absorption in ideas for their own sake (an improv spirit maybe), the embrace at the same time of pop melodies, the sheer breadth of sounds generated throughout the album – but I think my favourite is that great quality in any band or album, not trying too hard.

I can think of ten other bands who might have taken a rough draft of these songs and turned them into bombast, beating you over the head with the ideas and in the process murdering any beauty.

Percolator have that wonderful thing, restraint, so instead they stick with the ideas, the raw elements and see them through, not just as means to an end but as diamonds in themselves.

In this I would put them next to labelmates The Altered Hours. A band with vision and in it for the long haul. Plus with obvious musi…

Jane Weaver – Slow motion (Fire Records)

Glorious kosmische pop music with a motorik pulse from the Manchester artist.

There’s a beautiful weave to the synth lines, a carefree quality, a cavort suggesting the tumble of the universe somehow.

But it’s Weaver’s voice that crowns the sound.

Close and persuasive – let’s go outside when it doesn’t feel right / we can disappear – it uses simple elegant phrasing with an endearing down to earth tone which has a hint of world weary about it.

The effect of this simplicity againt the thick swoops of cosmic backing is to make a strange atmosphere. Like the best science fiction, it says otherworldly but still recognisable.

The arrangement is a dream of serene space, inner and outer.

A sumptuous cut.

Weyes Blood – The Workman’s Club, Dublin, April 15th 2017

On the most significant weekend in the Christian calendar, there was something appropriate about the primal and even pagan undertones of this wonderful show of live music and (I’m going to say) ideas.

Firstly we must speak about the sheer presence of Natalie Mering on stage (which is only added to by the remarkable sky blue with white clouds trouser suit, a sort of David Byrne meets Pop Art statement). You could call it a certain kind of cool. It certainly comes across as a confidence but with no sense of distance or aloofness to it. There’s a distinct warmth to her stage persona, or we might just say her personality because there’s no hint of artifice, just an easy engaging quality.

Her between song patter also has a distinct air of playfulness. She has a mischievous streak, no doubt about it. ‘Seven words’ is introduced with a wry smile as “seventeen’s grown another ten words...a lot has happened”. One of the encores (a krautrock classic) is billed as “a more Germ…

Playlist 443 - Apr 18 2017

A bunch of folk music in the first half of the show this week.

The Nightjar, brilliantly ghostly.
Richard Osborn, wonderful pastoral American primitive.
Seti The First, magnificent string based instrumentals.

And in the second half, much of the louder variety.

Snapped Ankles, murderous bassline.
Percolator, mashing MBV & Stereolab together beautifully.
Can, looping the loop wonderfully.

And from Brussels, Manu Louis (pic) with an amazing soundclash of 8 bit, electro, orchestral and whatever you're having yourself.

More on these pages.

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

Playlist 443
Tues Apr 18 2017
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

The Nightjar – The birds were made to sing for us (playing Green …