There used to be a
record store in the Blackrock shopping centre called ‘The
Unmistakeable Sound’ until about two years ago. My world became a greyer
place when it closed.
I never knew the bloke who owned it, but Ireland being
the small place that it is, I once got talking to a girl sitting
beside me on a flight from Milan to Dublin who turned out to be his
little sister. She
worked in fashion, but that’s not important. What is important is that he
a record store and he stocked it with the stuff he liked to listen
to from Abba to Zrazy.
An eclectic mix then. Sure he sold a few Robbie Williams CDs
to pay the rent, but the place was a treasure trove of the slightly
known and the offbeat.
I’ve never seen a Martin Grech album stocked anywhere
else. This place was
dangerous. I would pop
in out of idle curiosity to while away a few idle minutes and would
often come out with a bulging bag of curios. In a way, this section
of the website is a tribute to his taste and
One of the last albums I bought
there before it closed was Kindness by Irish band The
Radio. The band appears
to revolve around a bloke called Stephen Murray, although now he
goes by the terser sobriquet Stephen M. To respect his concatenating
tendencies, let’s just call him Stevo.
Stevo used to be the bass player in a band called Rollerskate
Skinny, whom you’ve also never heard of. On the other hand if you
were an Irish music fan, they were rather important for an album
called Horsedrawn Wishes which they released in 1996, an
album of squally yet tuneful guitar and electronic music at a time
when people were despairing of Kevin Shields ever getting up off his
behind and bringing out another My Bloody Valentine album for us all
to youthful and disaffected to. Ireland being the small
place that it is Rollerskate Skinny featured Kevin Shields’ little
brother Jimi as guitarist.
Anyways life is cruel – Rollerskate Skinny split up after
Horsedrawn Wishes and Kevin Shields went off to do the soundtrack
for Sophia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation instead of
doing anything else Valentine-related.
aside – it turns out that Rollerskate Skinny is not a drug-induced
babble, but actually a quote from JD Salinger’s Catcher in the
Rye – “She's quite skinny, like me,
skinny, rollerskate skinny.”
some ten years later, Stevo rocks up with The Radio. Liam Mulvaney
plays the guitar and handles production. Caroline Lee Baker does the
vocals. When performing
live, they’re joined by a bassist, drummer and keyboard
does it sound like? Glorious soaraway pop. Beautiful harmonies.
Songs that lodge instantly in your brain. The way pop used to be when
it meant something, before it turned into a pretty-boy production
line aimed at the discretionary income of hormonal young teenage
girls. Like wir sind Helden but slower, lusher and in
Radio are reclaiming our pop heritage and giving us back the
music. The problem is
that practically nobody has heard of them. One of the few press
quotes on their website is from the RTE Guide. Welcome, but
not very Rock 'n' Roll - these folk need more publicity.
Well, I for one am glad to join the revolution and spread the
word. Check out samples
of their music at www.theradio.ie, www.reekus.com or www.myspace.com/theradio2006.
of you nostalgic for Rollerskate Skinny can find a virtual shrine at