Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Category: Sound

The Stains

Lexicon Devil's Dave Lang remembers one of the lost SST classics. #link

J Robbins walks us through Jawbox’s 1996 swan song

The Jawbox vocalist/guitarist goes deep on his best-known band's final record for the AV Club. But reading him say that he "can't sing"? What the hell are you talking about, man?! You have one of the richest sounding voices in rock! #link

Should Metal Be Held Accountable For Its Symbolism?

Lots of important questions raised here. I feel like the closer any music gets to political (or politicised) expression, the more accountable it must be for its symbolism. It's also too easy for people to provoke real feelings of hurt in others yet absolve themselves from any guilt or blame as they hide behind a false curtain of nihilism or intellectual superiority or whatever. (In other words, feck off with your 'sun wheels' bullshit.) #link

Medellín Ultra Metal

Invisible Oranges traces the birth of second-wave black metal to... Colombia? Not as weird at it sounds, when you think about it; it's a bit western/colonial to assume Brazil was the only South American country to export/influence extreme metal in the 1980s. #link

Nothing Short of Total War – The Blast First story

Ian Maleney's feature on what was essentially Britain's answer to SST -- and not only because it licensed stuff from the SST and Touch & Go rosters. Interesting to note that the label got its start in Nottingham, which would birth Earache (and the grindcore movement) a few years later, and that label head Paul Smith now lives in rural Cork, about as far from the industrial abrasiveness of the label's key acts as one can get. #link

King Buzzo talks Montage of Heck

Melvins main man Buzz Osborne calls bullshit on the artsy Kurt Cobain documentary, including the tidbit that "there was absolutely nothing wrong with his stomach. He made it up for sympathy and so he could use it as an excuse to stay loaded." There goes the notion that he might've had undiagnosed IBS. #link

Rain is sizzling bacon, cars are lions roaring: the art of sound in movies

The Guardian profiles Oscar-winning sound designer Skip Lievsay: "His expertise, fittingly, is what can’t be seen – sound, yes, but also everything else that sound is to the human mind: the way we orient ourselves in relation to spaces, to time, to each other; the way we communicate when language fails; the way our ears know, precognitively, when the dark room has someone lurking in it or when a stranger will be kind. He orchestrates the levels of human perception that most people either fail to examine or lack the ability to notice at all. His job is to make you feel things without ever knowing he was there." #link

The latest episode of Fractured, a video series on Irish underground music by my friend John Mulvaney (of The Nostalgic Attic), focuses on the bleak pastoral blackened noise project From the Bogs of Aughiska, who I've seen live a couple of times now, an intense experience to say the least. (And I'm surprised to learn the man behind the mask doesn't like to play live, which is a shame as that presentation of his music, with accompanying video projections, really brings out its power.) #video

The World Needs Female Rock Critics

On women's alienation from rock. Or rather, the rock musical/critical canon, because there's plenty of room for women in more underground, niche genres. Still, there can always be more. (And the same could be said for every relative minority, ie anyone not a white male.) #link

Oxbow on Bandcamp

At long last, the legendary Bay Area bruisers' discography (or most of it, anyway) for streaming and download. #link

The band responsible for one of my favourite SST albums have returned with two newly recorded songs after their recent live reunion and reissue campaign. I'm pretty sure these are their first studio recordings in more than 20 years. And yep, sounds like BL'AST! alright. #video

Phil Freeman on the role of ritual in metal

There's going through the motions (which can be fine, there are sets of expectations and marks to hit; being a wrestling fan I do that all the time when I suspend my disbelief) and there's spirituality and transcendence (Swans, Boredoms, Sunn O))), etc) and then there's ritual. And Freeman (my editor at Burning Ambulance) argues that actual, religiously inspired ritual is a rare thing in music, particularly in metal. #link

Noises On! #3: Better late than never

The latest instalment of my very irregular heavy music column for Thumped; 3,500 words on 50-something releases I was acquainted with over the past 12 months. Let's see if I can get the next one done before summer. #link

On Death and iPods: A Requiem

It totally, totally sucks that there's no mp3 player option for listeners like me who want to take all their music with them wherever they go. We're back to where we were over a decade ago, when disk space was the only limitation; now we're being limited by corporately contrived and dictated habits. Fuck that shit. #link

Listen to Late by Interlard on Bandcamp

Harsh grinding metallic noise from Birmingham. Probably what Black Sabbath would sound like if they started today. Kim Kelly said they reminded her of Burmese so that was enough for me. #link