t’s not every day that Greystones is graced with the presence of an artist riding on the crest of critical acclaim, but Thursday, May 25th is going to be one such day.
For that is when noted ambience chaser Elaine Howley will be sharing The Whale stage with the equally-acclaimed experimental outfit The Bonk.
About time someone brought a little uneasy listening into this pony-tailed, pot-bellied Pleasantville.
The Bonk is the latest creation of O Emperor’s Philip Christie, the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist pulling together another band of merry musical pranksters and aural explorers. The group are about to unleash their second album, Greater Than Or Equal To The Bonk, right about now. If not sooner.
For her part, Howley first made her name with the Cork band Altered Hours, the finishing touches being put to their third album when one-fifth of the band released her solo debut, The Distance Between Mouth And Heart, to all that aforementioned critical acclaim.
And we’re not just talking Hot ‘Hooray for Ireland’ Press here. American leftfield bible Pitchfock feckin’ loved it.
All of which means Thursday at The Whale could be something very special. And definitely something very different.
Before the big night, we asked Elaine to take part in our Tracks Of My Years, and reveal those songs that can still make her break down and cry.
Captain Beefheart Observatory Crest The captain is a surreal and larger than life yet somehow earthy and tangible character. His subject matter often seems from another dimension, singing Sun Zoom Spark or Ice Cream for Crow. On Observatory Crest, he seems particularly of this world. The simplicity of the scene, the feeling of love, the dust and the music keeps me coming back to this one, it’s very romantic. ‘The sand was hot, we wanted to dance.’ I love lyrics like this.
PJ Harvey The Desperate Kingdom of Love I’m a forever PJ Harvey fan, I especially enjoy her Uh `Huh Her record. This song doesn’t represent the overall angst of the record but this gentle song has equal power, especially in the context of the album. It feels like she is going back inward after the outpouring of emotion and taking stock of the landscape and the inevitability of heartache in this world. I went to a talk/interview with PJ at the Ballineen Arts Festival years ago and at the end she played this song. It stays with me.
Mary Black Sonny This was my party piece as a child. I gravitated to the longing in it and the loneliness in it even though I was really too young to fully comprehend those feelings. It helped me to see that songs could carry stories and feelings in a way that nothing else could and made me want to sing and share that with other people.
Solange Cranes In The Sky I listened to this song first thing every morning for a year when I worked at The Donkey Sanctuary; it was an hour commute and when I heard this drum intro I would feel able to go into first gear and slowly roll off to Liscarroll. I love everything Solange does, her voice, her style and her production. I think this song will stand the test of time, it definitely has for me.
Lucinda Williams I Lost It I discovered Lucinda Williams after reading This Woman’s Work, edited by Kim Gordan and Sinead Gleeson, a great book chronicling women’s journeys in music as listeners and creators. Lucinda’s voice sounds like the most natural thing in the world, she seems to soak up the life stories of everyone she encounters and retells them with tenderness and humour. I think I Lost It is a great example of that.
Mary Margaret O’ Hara When You Know Why You’re Happy There is a performance by Mary Margaret O Hara on The Old Grey Whistle Test that I keep going back to. She is performing this song and the presenter introduces her by saying that she describes herself as ‘an ancient baby whose cranium never quite fused together’. This is hilarious and sets up the most beautiful performance. She is the kind of performer that seems to both very much want to be on stage and also wants to run away, so you feel like you are witnessing something rare. I love Miss America, the album this song is from.
Fleetwood Mac Storms You asked for songs that can make me cry, this is certainly one! Stevie never fails to set off the tear ducts. Her struggles with love and life on the road and her own stormy nature are captured so well on this track.
The Bonk with Elaine Howley play The Whale on Thursday, May 25th at 8pm – tickets here, kids. You can follow Ms Howley on Instagram here and Twitter here.