In 2010 The National ended their months-long European tour with a show at one of the westernmost points in Europe at Other Voices. Usually at this point in a tour, according to The National’s guitarist Aaron Dessner, the band are road-weary and just looking forward to the comforts of home but the couple of days that they spent in Dingle reenergised them to the extent that they all tried to change their flights to spend as much time here as possible.
Now, two years later, Dessner returned to Dingle to oversee a night of music inside the Church of St. James and the first band he introduced was Los Angeles’ Local Natives. The fourpiece will release their second album Hummingbird next year, with assistance from Dessner, and all signs point to it being an album to be anticipated greatly. Local Natives first made waves at the South By Southwest festival in 2009, drawing comparisons to the likes of Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear and even Arcade Fire but, truthfully, those comparisons are slightly off the mark. Their eclectic brand of indie rock, mixed with intricate harmonies and dreamlike melodies are all bookended together with pulsing percussion and is a sound all to their own.
Paul Buchanan’s name has been spoken in nothing but revered tones all weekend here in Dingle, so we were very curious to check out the Blue Nile man’s stripped down set in the church last night. Despite suffering from a headcold (there was various cold medicines at the base of his mic stand), Buchanan’s voice was beautifully plaintive and, accompanied only by a piano, it enveloped the church with a feeling of wistfulness. This was the most low key of all the performances so far and it wasn’t every parishioners cup of tea (a less gravelly Tom Waits was one criticism we overheard).
Luluc, all the way from Melbourne, were up next. The two-piece guitar combo recruited Aaron Dessner for production duties for their next album and he joined them on stage to add some muscle to their stripped back brand of acoustic guitar melodies. As pleasant a duo as Luluc cut on stage, you couldn’t help but think that this slot might have been better spent on an Irish band, many of whom do the boy/girl acoustic duo combination just as well as Luluc can.
Aaron Dessner of The National
The final slot on the second night of Other Voices went to English acoustic/folk act This Is The Kit, another band with close ties to Aaron Dessner. Fronted by the pixie-like Kate Stables and her gorgeous voice, oversized banjo and infectious smile, This Is The Kit were one of the highlights, not just of tonight, but of Other Voices 2012.
It’s also worth noting that last night was the first time that Other Voices has ever been live on television in its 11 year history. If you didn’t see it, search for it on the RTE Player – trust us.
Our final Other Voices review will be live on the site tomorrow afternoon.