NEWS ROUNDUP: RIP Dolores O’Riordan, New LP Releases, & More

  • RIP Dolores O’Riordan (September 6, 1971 – January 15, 2018)

    We lost one of the greats this week. On Monday, January 15th, Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of Irish rock band, the Cranberries, passed away in London, where she had been recording. She was 46. The sad news was announced by her publicist. The cause of death has not been announced but authorities are not treating it as suspicious and are awaiting the test results of a coroner’s examination.

    Born in 1971 in Ireland, O’Riordan auditioned for the Cranberries (then called The Cranberry Saw Us) in 1990 after answering an advertisement seeking a female singer. After recording a rough demo of “Linger,” she was officially in the band. They soon went on to record the EP, Nothing Left At All and eventually signed to Island Records. The group achieved mainstream success with the single “Dreams,” off of their 1993 debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? The song immortalized nineties teen angst (visually preserved in an especially memorable scene of “My So-Called Life”). The album eventually sold over 40 million records. In 1994, the band took a more serious turn with the release of No Need To Argue which featured the hit single, “Zombie,” a protest song written in memory of two victims of the 1993 IRA bombings in Warrington, England. After No Need to Argue the Cranberries released three more albums – To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury The Hatchet (1999), and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001), before breaking up in 2002. O’Riordan then went on to put out two solo albums, Are You Listening? (2007), and No Baggage.

    In 2009, the same year that she released No Baggage, The Cranberries reunited on tour and recorded material for their 2012 release, Roses. In April of last year they released their seventh studio album, Something Else. They embarked on an international tour in support of the album before having to cancel in July 2017 due to health issues with O’Riordan’s back. Despite this knowledge, O’Riordan’s fans were hoping for a comeback as the singer had posted on Facebook during the recent holidays, saying that “she was feeling good” and accomplished her “first bit of gigging in months.”

    O’ Riordan will be buried in Ireland next week. She is survived by her three children.

  • New Albums from Belle & Sebastian, Porches, Tune-Yards & More!

    This has been the biggest week for album releases in the year thus far. Belle and Sebastian released How to Solve Our Human Problems, Pt. 2. It’s the second part of their much anticipated EP trilogy; the final installment is slated to arrive February 16th.

    Just in time for his upcoming tour with Miguel, SiR released his latest album, November. The jazz-inflected R&B singer is signed with TDE; the label is riding a incredibly high wave thanks to their critically-lauded 2017 releases, including Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and SZA’s Ctrl.

    The Go! Team made us feel old by releasing their fifth (!) album this week. Semicircle features their signature mash-up of cheerleader shouts and marching band sounds, with some ’60s sitar thrown in for good measure. They play NYC in April.

    Swedish band First Aid Kit gave us Ruins this week. It’s their first album in four years. Aaron Maine released The House, his third album as Porches. Two tracks off the release, “Find Me,” and “Country,” have already been given the video treatment.

    British dancepunk trio Shopping also released their third full-length this week. The Official Body will have you contemplating current events and social institutions while grooving to dance synths and heavy basslines reminiscent of Bush Tetras and Au Pairs.

    Last but definitely not least, Tune-Yards released I can feel you creep into my private life. The band’s founder, Merrill Garbus, recently told The New York Times that the new album is heavily influenced by learning how to DJ and attending seminars about race relations. Case in point? The catchy pop grooves of lead single, “ABC 123,” will have you bopping your head to the lyric, “I can ask myself, what should I do? But all I know is white centrality. My country served me horror coke. My natural freedom up in smoke.”

  • Other Highlights

    Wu-Tang’s RZA appears in a brand new video for PETA. The ad features the longtime vegan’s voiceover as his face shifts into different people and animals. Governors Ball announced James Blake as its final headliner for the 2018 June lineup. Kylie Minogue’s new single, “Dancing,” gives us a taste of her fourteenth studio album, Golden, out April 6th. Cardi B is the subject of a new Tidal “mini-documentary.” I’m Here Muthaf*ckas follows her as she headlines Jeremy Scott’s Art Basel dinner party for Moschino. Julien Barbagallo, the drummer of Tame Impala, released a video for “L’échappée.” The single is off of his upcoming album, Danse Dans Les Ailleurs, which is sung entirely in French. Five of David Bowie’s albums are getting vinyl re-issuesLow, Heroes, Lodger, Scary Monsters, and Stage will be available individually on February 23rd via Parlophone. Migos member Offset has offended many with a homophobic statement (this time in a lyric), AGAIN. Mary J. Blige honors the Time’s Up movement with new single, “Bounce Back 2.0.” Fischerspooner’s new NSFW music video celebrates male sexuality. Bad Wolves have released their cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie.” Dolores O’Riordan was scheduled to record vocals for the track before her passing; proceeds from the single will benefit her children.

ONLY NOISE: Remembering Dolores O’Riordan

When the Cranberries released their debut record Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? I was not quite four years old. It was 1993, and two household DJs named Mom and Dad would determine my musical tastes for at least another five years. Those years passed quickly. By the time we were on the heels of a new millennium, I was finally catching up with the ’90s and the music that had shaped my first decade on Earth. Eventually, I would catch up with the Cranberries, too.

Interestingly enough, my introduction to the Cranberries (and the vast majority of ’90s music) did not come in the form of a mix CD or radio broadcast, but in soundtracks for film and television. Fragments of Cranberries songs must have drifted into my limbic system as I watched Clueless, Charmed, and countless reruns of Beverly Hills 90210. In 1995, 90210 staged a first kiss between oafish Steve Sanders and relative newcomer Clare Arnold while the Cranberries’ hit “Dreams” played softly in the background. “Dreams” made several other cameos, notably on the soundtrack of the 1998 rom-com You’ve Got Mail. This was an era when everyone looked forward to the latest Tom Hanks flick, so there’s no doubt that the movie was a vital text in my Cranberries 101 course.

At some point, the songs I’d heard coalesced, and a whole record came into focus. Scrolling past the plastic spines in my parents’ CD collection, I found Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. Now that I think about it, that copy must have belonged to my stepmother – she had a small store of Cranberries’ albums wedged between my dad’s Chris Isaak and Crowded House discs. Listening to Everybody Else in full allowed me to acknowledge the Cranberries as something other than film score footnotes. Only a decade late to the party, I finally recognized Everybody Else for what it truly was: a downright masterpiece. Now, days after losing the Cranberries’ heart and soul Dolores O’Riordan, I turn to that masterpiece in remembrance.

Given the concealed details of 46-year-old O’Riordan’s sudden death, it’s difficult not to speculate on what may have happened. The singer/songwriter had a history of mental heath issues, and it’s easy to jump to conclusions when that factor hints at contextualizing her unexplained death. For the sake of respect I will not make any assumptions. However O’Riordan’s passing does draw a darker shade on her body of work. She was the band’s chief lyricist, and the words she sang on the Cranberries’ first record – the one I hold the most dear – often clashed with the gorgeous melodies her band was so adept at crafting. Songs like “I Still Do” and chart topper “Linger” were studies in the bittersweet; the latter frequently passed off as a honeyed love ballad despite its gut-wrenching testimony of desire and rejection. “You know I’m such a fool for you/You got me wrapped around your finger,” O’Riordan cries in the song’s well-known chorus. “Do you have to let it linger?” The song’s striking arrangement was matched only by those universal words.

Thinking of the word “bittersweet,” I am only now realizing its relevance to everything about the Cranberries – their music, their end, even their name. Though it’s unlikely that the band had conceptual coherence in mind when they chose the name (they were first billed as The Cranberry Saw Us), nothing could be more apt a title than the tart and astringent fruit, one that only sweetens with added sugar. This sugarcoating revealed itself on “Dreams,” which reached #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1994. “Dreams” is the outlier on Everybody Else, its blissed out major chords amplifying O’Riordan’s firsthand account of falling in love. There is nothing snide or ironic in her lyrics, just occasional caution. O’Riordan first dips a toe in the pool to test the temperature before splashing head first into a new relationship. “And now I tell you openly/You have my heart so don’t hurt me,” she warns, before yielding “Oh my life is changing everyday… /’Cause you’re a dream to me.” It is a rare moment of un-soured hope, the kind we’ve all cradled when following our hearts into uncharted territory.

O’Riordan and the Cranberries possessed a rare voice in music, one that was instantly recognizable from the moment they began. It was a timeless voice, too. Listening to Everybody Else today does not feel like I’ve boarded a time machine to 1993. The record retains an uncommon relevance, sounding at once of and beyond its time. If any of its songs were released today, they would sound just as fresh, honest, and gorgeous as they did 25 years ago. Dolores O’Riordan left behind a legacy of exceptional art in those 25 years. While art is no substitute for a human being, it is an eternal gift by which to remember one.

ONLY NOISE: Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a controversial holiday with a wretched color scheme. The Hallmark credo of thankfulness is thin when stretched against this country’s historical relationship with Native Americans. The shirking of materialism is undercut when Black Friday rolls around. To many, Thanksgiving is merely a day to get tanked, watch college football, and shout about politics with Uncle Larry.

Holidays are hard for me. I’m not religious, my family lives 3,000 miles away, and if I did live closer to them, I’d have to decide which half to celebrate with. I don’t like the premise of most holidays either – the fact that we need a nationally ordained day to eat a meal together and be thankful has cynical implications – as if we aren’t thankful for the food we share together the remaining days of the calendar year. As you know, I could easily play the curmudgeon and pick these things apart to forever, but there is one thing Thanksgiving has going for itself that I just can’t knock: the food!

A delicious meal is a delicious meal, and I’m thankful for all of them, but Thanksgiving dinner is a particularly iconic spread of dishes only Americans can understand – like, say, canned cranberry sauce and mini marshmallow encrusted sweet potatoes. The Turkey Day smorgasbord is vast and overwhelming; gluttonous and nap inducing. In fact, it is so immense that I’ve put together a soundtrack to help us waddle through each course.

The Turkey

We don’t call it “Turkey Day” for nothin.’ You don’t have to hang your kids hand-traced paper turkey art on your fridge each year for nothin’ either. The turkey is the main event on Thanksgiving, and whether you’re the one butchering it, cooking it, or simply eating it, the big bird that goes “gobble gobble” is going to affect your life this week. So why not give the poor bird a song? “Stuffy Turkey” by Thelonious Monk is a great place to start – a classy jazz number to score the bird’s arrival, all glazed and brown and stuffed. Follow it up with the frantic “Turkey Chase” by Bob Dylan as you and your family members squabble over precious dark meat morsels. And finally, blast Butthole Surfers’ “Turkey and Dressing,” which will provide the necessary aggression to finish your plate of food, and weather Uncle Larry’s xenophobic rants.


When Peaches sings, “I see you sittin’ and stuffin’ your face/Why don’t you stuff me up?” on 2003’s “Stuff Me Up,” she is clearly personifying the Turkey in your kitchen, begging to be filled with breadcrumb dressing, aka “stuffing.”

See also: “Stuffy Turkey.”

Mashed Potatoes

What would Thanksgiving be without a vat of butter sodden mashed potatoes? Just another Thursday, that’s what. There are a lot of songs that pay tribute to the “mashed potato,” referring to the wildly popular 1960s dance move. Rufus Thomas’ “Mashed Potatoes,” however, is a tune that rightfully exalts potatoes in their many forms, be they “French fried potatoes” or the titular, macerated kind. For purists, The Ventures’ ode to the side dish, “Mashed Potato Time” has but two lyrics: “Mashed” and “Potatoes.”


It appears that Dee Dee Sharp’s “Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)” may be a grotesque sexual innuendo, but at least it’s spot on for Thanksgiving Dinner. Like Sharp, we likely won’t get through the evening without shouting, “C’mon baby/I want some gravy!”

Rock n’ roll has been good to gravy, as there are countless songs that reference the rightful sidekick to turkey and mashed potatoes. Gravy grooves range from the instructional (Paul Kelly’s “How To Make Gravy”), traditional (George Benson’s “Giblet Gravy”), and of course, the addictive (“Nicotine & Gravy” by Beck).

Sweet Potatoes

The idiosyncratic orange cousin of russet potatoes, sweet potatoes come in many forms. Baked whole, sliced au gratin, glazed, and of course: mashed and smothered in tiny marshmallows. In the music world, sweet potatoes seem to have as much clout – and erotic overtones – as gravy. As Lonnie Johnson sings in the searing “Sweet Potato Blues,” “If you want sweet potatoes/Bake it in my pan.” For a less raunchy take, check out Pete Seeger’s family-friendly “Soon As We All Cook Sweet Potatoes.”

Green Bean Casserole

There is an unjust deficit of green bean songs on the Internet, and even fewer that mention the congealed, Turkey Day staple we refer to as Green Bean Casserole. What I have found in the musical spirit of hericots verts has been pretty dismal. Especially “Green Beans,” a warbled electro cut that slanders its namesake ingredient by repeating, “I don’t like green beans” through a vocoder too many times. The most practical application of this song would be as a punishment for children who don’t eat their vegetables. Weary parents of picky eaters should make them listen to it fifty times in a row.

Cranberry Sauce

If you thought there weren’t enough songs about green beans, then you’ll be horrified by the dearth of cranberry sauce ditties. Such a peculiar condiment deserves to be memorialized in song. Alas, the closest we can get to an aural rendering of that red, gelatinous cylinder is ‘90s Irish alt-group The Cranberries. Their catalogue may be pretty food-reference-free, but songs like “Ode To My Family” and “No Need To Argue” fit perfectly with the relatives-around-the-table theme of Turkey Day. And who could forget “Linger” – the band’s biggest hit, which could very well reference the relentless food coma that looms post-feast.

Pumpkin Pie

Last, but certainly not least in our festive meal is dessert. Though different tribes may take their coffee with a variety of sweets, pumpkin pie is the poster pudding for Thanksgiving. It is also (much like mashed potatoes, gravy, and sweet potatoes before) a euphemism for genitalia. Look no further than The California Honeydrops’ ditty “Pumpkin Pie” (off of the subtly titled Spreadin’ Honey LP), which begs in a brazenly possessive manner, “Won’t you save all your pumpkin pie just for me, girl?” A similar winking nastiness can be found in Bob Dylan’s 1969 number “Country Pie,” which nods to pies of pumpkin, and many other flavors. Let’s just pretend these songs really are about pie for one night, what do ya say? Your family will thank you for it.

LIVE REVIEW: Eskimeaux @ ONCE Ballroom


Eskimeaux‘s show alongside Free Cake For Every Creature, Claire Cottrill, and Lady Pills on Thursday, May 12 was about 50 percent concert, 50 percent social gathering, and 100 percent what you would expect to find in Somerville, Massachusetts. The venue itself is a site worth visiting: Its upstairs restaurant has arcade machines and tables you might expect to find at your grandma’s birthday party, and its downstairs performance venue will make you feel like you’re in your friend’s basement.

True to the name of the last opener, there was free cake for everyone (with “free cake” written in icing), and people sat on the floor to eat it. The beard-to-face ratio and Birkenstock-to-foot ratio in the audience were off the charts even for a town known as the Boston area’s hipster central. The four acts were all similar in a few ways: They consisted entirely of or at least were fronted by women, and their visual and musical aesthetic were a bit twee but a bit rough around the edges.


The first act to take the stage, Lady Pills, was one of the best. With lo-fi, grungy instrumentals, vocals reminiscent of The Cranberries, and sardonic yet sweet lyrics like “everyone’s so stupid. I just want to make out with you,” the band projects an image that’s simultaneously cuddly and sassy. Next, soloist Claire Cottrill filled the room with a softer and simpler sound, conjuring a childlike purity in songs like “Bubble Gum” with the refrain, “I swallowed the bubble gum.”

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Then, Free Cake For Every Creature brought the energy back up. Lead singer Katie Bennett took a playful tone a bit reminiscent of The Moldy Peaches in songs like “For You,” with the lyrics: “for you, I’d write a shitty poem on the wall of a dressing room at JC Penny,” and almost whispered her way through songs like the sentimental “First Storm of the Summer,” which evoked the sound of raindrops on a roof.

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The main act, Eskimeaux, is the solo project of singer-songwriter and producer Gabrielle Smith. Unlike the other, more garage-like sounds in the lineup, Smith’s voice and accompanying instrumentals were crisp. Folk tunes like “I’ll Admit I’m scared” conjured The Finches, especially since Smith’s voice is a lot like Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs’s, but she sounded more like Mirah in higher-paced, danceable numbers like “Broken Neck,” for which her bandmates and the audience sang along. My only criticism of their act is that each song seemed to end a bit too soon and abruptly.

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The evening’s bookends — Lady Pills and Eskimeaux — were the highlights, while Free Cake For Every Creature and Claire Cottrill were less infectious fillers. Across the board, though, all four acts projected a contagious excitement, perhaps because they were celebrating the release of both Eskimeaux’s latest album Year of the Rabbit and Free Cake for Every Creature’s Talking Quietly of Anything With You on April 15. It felt like the crowd was not just the audience in a show but also a group of supporters sharing in a celebration, and it felt like something special to be one of them.