Friday, August 9, 2013

Yip!*: Cathal Coughlan

The Adventures of Flannery from Jessica Fuller on Vimeo.

I was delighted to stumble across a film about the singer-songwriter Cathal Coughlan the other day. What's even more amazing than the fact that there is a film about Coughlan is the fact that it's free to watch online (I hope it's not a bootleg upload, but since it's been up for three years, presumably the filmmakers would have noticed by now; the film appears to have been funded by the Irish taxpayer, so thank you Irish taxpayers!).  It provides a nice overview of Coughlan's music career up to 2006 or whenever it was filmed, but mainly focuses on a musical project he was putting on then in his hometown of Cork, Ireland.

I first discovered Coughlan's work through his band The Fatima Mansions, particularly the great Viva Dead Ponies album.  For years, I thought the band had only released two albums, Ponies and Lost In The Former West, but that's apparently only because those were their main American releases.  In the U.K., they had a couple more, which I managed to track down years later.  I also stumbled across an ep I never knew existed last year while browsing in a Los Angeles thrift store.  I've also enjoyed his work in his earlier band Microdisney and his current solo work (though it appears that he has more solo albums than have been released in the USA--I hope an American label will release them someday before I break down and pay import prices; fortunately, his latest project, the band North Sea Scrolls, is available here).

If I ever play live again, I'd like to cover "Pack Of Lies" by the Mansions.  I've worked out a nice arrangement for it.  It's a great, venomous song and encapsulates modern life well with all the leaders lying but still expecting to be treated with respect.  Coughlan's work is often very rooted in life in the U.K. (he emigrated to London decades ago), so it can be a bit challenging for American listeners (which probably explains why many of his records have gone unreleased here) but the songs are so great that they're still enjoyable even if one doesn't understand entirely all the allusions and references in the lyrics.

If Coughlin or any of his fans want to trade a record I don't have for a copy of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus or something, then please get in touch (contact info's in the upper right or just comment here and leave your contact info--none of that Facebook or Twitter address garbage though; email, folks!--just disguise it like I do if you have to avoid the spammers).   

 *Yips are good things.

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