FYI our fearless editor Mary is currently on holiday (sort of, she says, since she'll be working on blog-y things for most of it) in Britain and the site won't be as updated as frequently until she returns stateside after the 23rd of May. Don't worry though, we'll be busy this month going to festivals (Liverpool Sound City, the Great Escape) and loads of great content is on its way!
I won’t judge you if you haven’t already bought Cashier No. 9‘s debut album released last year, called ‘The Death of Fun’. I will however give you a stern eye and direct you to listen and download the title track, offered up as a freebie by the kind folks of their label, Bella Union. Grab it below.
Cashier No. 9 play on the Sunday of this year’s Camden Crawl, taking place this weekend.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 3rd April 2012 at 1:00 pm
Only at SXSW can you manage to travel to multiple countries in a span of a couple hours. Well, not literally of course, but it is possible to see bands from many different corners of the globe in one afternoon. I achieved this in just hours on the club-filled Sixth Street, followed swiftly by the Discovering Scotland showcase at Latitude 30. Sixth Street is every bit as legendary as the tourist trap t-shirts that advertise its amazingness. Everywhere you turn, you will either run into a band hanging out, playing a gig in a club with the doors wide open, busking on the corner, etc. etc. etc. It really is like a Disneyland for gig-goers. To get inside the venues, you’ll need a wristband like I had or a music badge. But if you were a local and had neither, you’d probably be just as happy walking up and down the street, stopping wherever you heard some music blaring out of a club you like.
And sometimes you just want to walk around and see what’s on offer. The loud, punky guitars emanating from Spill Bar, which turned out to be M for Montreal’s home for the week. But in the meantime, Spill was playing host to a Planet Quebec showcase, and I’d stumbled in right smack dab in the middle of Machinegun Suzie’s set. I’ll admit, my planned schedule didn’t include me specifically seeking out hard rocking bands, let alone female hard rocking ones. This Canadian Web site describes them as being purveyors of stoner-rock, which I don’t really agree with. The Montreal band basically play as loud and as fast as humanly possible, best typified by the song ‘Bad Stripper’, with all the instruments up to 11. They’re the kind of band my mum would be afraid of me liking…
I got a little tired of them speaking mainly in French – err, I totally get you want to talk to your countrymen, but as a frustrated American shouted in a purposely mocking, fake French accent, “I don’t know zee French, speak English!” – and went a-walking. I heard the heavy dance beats of Ishi, a Dallas dance band. I queried the doorman to ask if it was a band or a DJ in there, and he replied “DJ”, so I kept moving. Sorry to Ishi if you were actually performing in your four-piece lineup, but going on the word of the guy at the door, I didn’t feel like watching some dude scratching records. So I kept moving, mostly people watching and enjoying the sun.
After their Northern Ireland showcase appearance Wednesday night I’d been personally invited by Cashier No. 9 to watch them play the Music from Ireland showcase at Irish pub B.D. Riley’s, and after such a warm welcome from Angela Dorgan – and free Irish breakfast! – I planned to head back to the watering hole for an afternoon of bands. So after I left the PRS brunch, I arrived at the Irish pub in the middle of Squarehead’s set. A trio from Dublin who self-describes themselves on their Facebook as “JUNK POP”, they’ve got a strange name, don’t they? My guess is that ‘squarehead’ is equivalent to the American derogatory name of ‘blockhead’, but hearing their music, I’m not really sure what the connection to what they sound like is to their band name. (Very confused.) They’ve got a classic pop sound and I might have passed them by if I’d seen the names of some of their songs – ‘Midnight Enchilada’? ‘ – but if you like the sunny, surf-y mode of the Beach Boys and/or the reinterpretation via the Drums, this is the band to check out.
Next up were my dream Norn Irish line-up: General Fiasco, followed by Cashier No. 9. They played in this order the other night at the Tap Room at Six. The difference? This time they played in the best possible place for them – an Irish pub! – with the windows opened outwards towards the street. The raw, unbridled energy of both of these bands, framed by the beautiful rays of the sun, was quite a sight to behold. Seeing them play Wednesday was great, but this showcase appearance was even better, packed with people who had no doubt heard about the Wednesday night show and were curious about these groups of Northern Irish guys playing infectious pop and rock. General Fiasco gave their new song ‘Sleep’ (video below) its only second time ever live airing, and it was great – it sounded like classic GF. Well, as much as classic as you can after a great debut album and some amazing singles and EPs.
Cashier No. 9 started with the inspirational ‘Goldstar’ (video below) and their version of ‘The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out’ this afternoon dazzled even more than the other night, with percussionist and harmonica player Philip Wallace going to town with his bongos, curious folk peering into B.D. Riley’s to try and figure out what was going on. In between bands, I introduced myself to Jenny Huston, the famed RTE 2fm (Irish national) radio presenter who I’d recognised from video interviews she’d done in the past couple years at Oxegen. She was surprised and shocked I recognised her but was quite happy to hear that her interviews were getting out outside Ireland. (That they are, Jenny!) I was more than honoured when she emailed me the week following after I’d returned to DC and asked me to give my top 3 bands of SXSW (you can listen to that segment below as well).
But I was really there to see the Twilight Sad. This band was supposed to play in Washington in DC in February, but then we got the awful news that their visas had not been approved in time and the show had been cancelled without even being rescheduled. Enjoying ‘No One Can Ever Know’ (album review here) immensely, I wanted to see it performed live. Instead of regular mike-checking (“hey hey!” “one two, one two!” “yeah YEAH!”), frontman James Graham instead recited the value of pi up to at least 10 decimal places. I lost count after a couple numbers because I was spellbound as he was saying this in his Scottish brogue. (Hot.) I don’t think I was standing in the right place – the wall of sound and guitar grinding sounded muddled to me. You can watch older song ‘And She Would Darken the Memory of Youth’ below. Sadly, I was disappointed. Also kind of sad: I was looking forward to parking my bum on a church bench that very evening. Definitely getting old.
By Mary Chang on Monday, 26th March 2012 at 1:00 pm
Sometimes, even in the competitive world of music blogging, an editor needs to take time out for herself. One of the SXSW showcases I was most looking forward to hunkering myself down at was the Northern Irish showcase being put on at the Tap Room at Six on Wednesday night. Oddly, the line-up was pretty much the same at British Music Embassy’s Monday night show at Latitude 30, so had I arrived a day earlier, I could have caught that bill instead, but I suppose it was just my good luck that the three of the bands from Monday night were performing together once again. Wasn’t a huge fan that the stage was so high up that I got neck sprain, just like at Philly’s Trocadero, but beggars can’t be choosers, can they?
The first band on were the Wonder Villains from Derry. I’d first heard of them after last month when they received the glowing nod of approval from Steve Lamacq on his weekly New Favourite Band feature on 6music. Musically, they sound a lot like General Fiasco, who we’ve written about a lot here on TGTF, except they’re made up of two girls and two guys and they have a female lead singer, Eimear Coyle, who came out on stage in an Iron Maiden t-shirt, hot pink leggings, and a gigantic daisy nested in the organised chaos that was her hair. Then you looked at backing singer / keyboardist Cheylene Murphy, with her bright red feather earrings and appropriately tropical outfit of red and turquoise. A strong look, but this is Austin and SXSW, so it worked. So what are they like live? Think superhero (superheroine?) choruses that were infectious as hell and bouncy guitar that everyone’s going for these days. Combine that with a youthful exuberance that makes you wish you were 15 again, running out of town with their ‘Ferrari’ (video below) as you do when you’re young with no responsibilities, not worrying about money or where you’re going in life. Sigh.
I thought it might be a stretch to relate to these kids so much younger than myself, but Coyle was going on about their song ‘Calgary’ that was written after they’d watched the Disney film Cool Runnings (you remember it I’m sure, about the scrappy Jamaican bobsled team) and I just had to laugh, knowingly, to myself. If anything, this is the kind of band that’s destined to be big with the Disney crowd (and that’s not a dig by any means, by the way).
I always have a different outlook on bands after I’ve interviewed them and they’ve revealed themselves to nice people and not posturing, obnoxious snobs. So I viewed my impending first view of Belfast’s General Fiasco in gigging mode with much excitement. I think I’d like to sum up their performance with one word: wheeeeeeeeeee! Having only ever heard their sound through the internet, I already knew I was in for frantic guitar lines and driving beats but wow, I was simply blown away. I don’t know how these guys don’t have an American record contract yet. Seriously.
I had connected with ‘Waves’ on initial listen; Owen Strathern’s declaration of “and I go back like a wave to the shore / I don’t think about you much now anymore” rings true to anyone who’s trying to get back on their feet after a break-up. But you can get over someone this way, admitting to your mistakes and being ok with it all, it’s so much more enjoyable. And this was a definite highlight of the set; as the title track off their November 2011 EP, it’s a definite step up in maturity from their ‘Rebel Get By’ early days, as was ‘Don’t You Ever’, another newer song. A new album’s purported to be along the way later this year, and I couldn’t be more delighted.
The last band I’d see in this showcase would be Cashier No. 9. If you recall, I saw them play a triumphant set at London XOYO in November. I already knew then that they had what it took to get a foothold in America, so when I heard they were announced to play SXSW, I had hoped this meant industry execs would get to see them and they’d be offered a record deal up front. (I’ve not heard anything to this effect yet, which is not to say it hasn’t happened already in the last 10 days, but this was my biggest wish after seeing them in London.) While the Wonder Villains and General Fiasco play very in your face guitar rock/pop, I find Cashier No. 9 is a bit harder and possibly more middle of the road in terms of American radio play. Not surprisingly, the Tap Room at Six by this time was pretty packed, which I was pretty pleased with.
Besides being high up, the stage was tiny, and the group crammed all their gear and personnel onto it. At one point in the set, I ended up becoming emergency guitar wrangler down the front because Danny Todd didn’t have a safe place to park his acoustic, so I grabbed it from him and placed it down on the floor in front of me for safekeeping. Despite the claustrophobia while they weren’t physically all over the place as the two that preceded them, the band delivered a blinding yet measured performance. ‘Goldstar’ started the proceedings off with pop punch, which continued all the way to ‘The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out’ (video below), with its psych rock outro, and closing track ‘Goodbye Friend’, an appropriate ending to bid adieu to new friends that you hope you will see again soon, a sentiment I share. Let’s hope they, along with their Northern Irish band friends, will tour worldwide in the very near future.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 31st January 2012 at 2:00 pm
Belfast’s Cashier No. 9 recently made an appearance at quite possibly the calendar year’s first emerging music festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag held in Groningen, the Netherlands. Their performance of ‘Goldstar’ was filmed and you can watch it in all its glory below.
The band will be appearing at Austin’s SXSW in March and I’ve got plans to catch them as many times as I can.
Up and coming Northern Irish rockers Cashier No. 9 made it to the #7 spot on our 10 for 2012 poll voted by you. Danny Todd, lead singer of the Belfast band, was kind enough to send over his answers to some burning questions we posed him and his band, such as what they expect to find in their dressing rooms on tour…
Congratulations on finishing #7 in our 10 of 2012 poll of bands to watch next year. Unfortunately, we don’t have a trophy or anything to give you, but please know that it was the faithful readers of TGTF that voted to give you your place on this list. Although we risk sounding like the reporters on the red carpet at the BAFTAs, we want to know, how do you feel about this achievement?
We’re delighted. Thanks very much, faithful readers.
Has coming of age in a post-Troubles Belfast made it easier or harder to be a Norn Irish musician?
Nothing to do with the troubles has ever affected us being in bands one way or the other.
Do you think the MTV EMA Awards held in Belfast in early November will help the Northern Irish music scene, what do you think it will accomplish?
Anything that brings an international spotlight to our city is no doubt a good thing.
Do you think South by Southwest will open up the American market for you? How much more do you think you need before you come over to do a proper tour?
We hope so…we’ve never played in the States and the album’s not out there yet. There’s probably still a lot of work to do.
Do you think there is a Northern Irish “sound,” and if there is, are you a part of it or a counter to it?
Not really. We’re a part of anyone who’s trying to make something good.
Which has been your favorite festival to play?
What influences your music – other musical groups, books, politics?
Other music of many types. Books, yes. Politics, no.
This album seems to place you fairly squarely in the “pop” category, a place some bands loathe to be. Is that where you were aiming for, or do you have more work to do to complete your sound?
We’re happy to be labelled “pop”, but there’s a lot more to it too.
Whose idea was it to pair you up with famed Irish artist Jack Pakenham for the ‘Goldstar’ video? And is he actually dancing to ‘Goldstar’?
It was our idea, he was throwing shapes at one of our gigs and it all made sense. No, he’s not actually dancing to ‘Goldstar’. It’s ‘Black Betty’, one of his favourite tunes.
So now that you are an “award-winning band”, what bizarre things are you going to add to your rider?
What do you predict for yourselves in 2012?
If the world doesn’t end, maybe we’ll take it over.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 6th December 2011 at 2:00 pm
There is no use ignoring the music coming out of Northern Ireland right now. First there was Two Door Cinema Club, making a big noise last year and now headlining the upcoming NME Awards tour next February. So what’s going on now? Here comes the rampaging approach of two potentially heavy hitters: Cashier No. 9, earmarked by Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union and Two Door’s ‘little brothers’ Kowalski. (I put ‘little brothers’ in quotes because there is a brother connection between the two bands – Kev Baird’s brother Paddy plays drums in Kowalski.) Both bands played sets for a pretty well attended gig late November Thursday night in the Capital at relatively new venue XOYO.
Because of Kowalski’s relationship with Two Door, I kind of assumed an unfair assumption that they would be trying to ride on Two Door’s coattails to success. And while a casual listener might think these two bands sound the same, I think Kowalski has done a good job sonically distancing themselves from the band the media are probably going to lazily lump them with for the next couple years of their career, based on the jaunty guitars alone. ‘Navigate November’, a great track from their EP ‘Take Care, Take Flight’, was a standout from their support set. The band also showed off two new tracks (presumably appearing on their debut album?), ‘Ribbons’ and ‘While We Drive’ (watch it below). I’d keep an eye on these guys, I think they have great potential.
My impression the first time I heard Cashier No. 9: file under unremarkable psych rock. My fellow Washingtonian writer Cheryl urged me on, saying that I should give them a real try. So when their gig popped up in November just the week I happened to be in town celebrating my birthday, I said, okay, let’s give these guys a real chance. The multi-coloured light show keeping the band under a constant glow of various shades and glints added rather than distracted from their performance; turns out this was a happy coincidence, as frontman Danny Todd told me afterwards that the lights were the venue’s and not theirs. ‘Goldstar’, one of their singles this year, went down incredibly well, as did ‘Oh Pity’ (video below), currently making the British radio rounds. Three songs in, I applauded myself silently for choosing to attend this gig on my English holiday. I suspect this will go down in the band’s books as one of their early triumphs in London.
Other tracks from their debut album released this summer, ‘To the Death of Fun’, like ‘Lost at Sea’ and ‘The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out’, shone as promising gems that the audience may not have known but lapped up in short order. At first I was worried this was going to be a case of “oh London punters are just too cool for school and won’t show any emotion” but I was wrong. Men and women alike cheered for the band that has interestingly a percussionist who breaks out in harmonica solos. (I have no idea if this is normal for Cashier No. 9 songs but it certainly isn’t for a rock show these days.) A pair of women next to me was squealing constantly during the entire set. Now, I have been known to get my fangirl on and squeal during my favourite bands’ performances, but it was funny, these women desperately wanted set lists and whatever else they could get their hands on. If one live performance was enough to encourage that kind of fanaticism (Cashier No. 9 hasn’t gone on tour all that much in the UK…yet…), god only knows the kind of popular reception they’ll have at next year’s festivals.