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Live Gig Video: Paul Noonan and wife Amy perform Printer Clips’ charity single ‘Hole in Her Heart’ on The Late Late Show

 
By on Tuesday, 18th November 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

Bell X1‘s Paul Noonan, who has been recording with his musician friends under the solo project title Printer Clips, has released a brand new duet with his with Amy Van Den Broek. This time though, it’s for a very worthy cause and comes directly as a result from their own experience. The couple’s daughter Aislinn was hospitalised at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Ireland’s largest paediatric hospital, when she was only a few days old. Noonan says these words about the experience:

“When our little girl Aislinn was 9 days old we took her to Crumlin hospital as she had been in pain and in distress for long enough, and we didn’t know what else to do. Turns out she had a bad intestinal infection, and there she stayed for 3 weeks, in the aptly named Nazareth ward.

One of the tests at the time showed that she has a hole in her heart – I remember staring at the screen, watching the tiny hole open and close with her heartbeat, winking at me…

We were really taken aback by the love and tender care she received in Crumlin, and would like to do something for them in return.

So, I’ve written a song called ‘Hole in Her Heart’, and recorded it with Aislinn’s mama Amy.

We’d like to put it out there to raise some money and possibly more importantly awareness of the fact that Crumlin still needs our help in taking care of our kids when they get sick”.

All the proceeds of the single will go directly to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin. It can be purchased from iTunes or as a special Christmas card here. Noonan and Van Den Broek performed a moving rendition of the song last Friday on RTE’s The Late Late Show, and you can watch it below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZlUMvdjslI[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Printer Clips – Printer Clips

 
By on Tuesday, 20th May 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Printer Clips 'Printer Clips' coverSince the release of their sixth album last summer, two of the three members of Bell X1 have taken time off to work on individual projects. Multi-instrumentalist David Geraghty has embarked on a solo effort called Join Me in the Pines, which our Cheryl had the chance to experience live earlier this spring (click here to read her thoughts on that show), while frontman Paul Noonan has cobbled together an album of duets under the collective name Printer Clips.

The self-titled album ‘Printer Clips’ finds Noonan in collaboration with an assortment of female singers, performing songs that were conceived as duets and recorded in improvised spaces designed to underscore the simplicity and intimacy of the arrangements. The songs were initially released as two separate digital-only EPs, ‘The Left Sleeve’ and ‘The Right Sleeve’, further accentuating the two-sided nature of the compositions. (Noonan first touched on this idea with Bell X1’s ‘Chop Chop’; read his thoughts in our earlier interview here.)

The songs on ‘Printer Clips’ are a curious mix of newly released material and already recognizable tunes. Even in the previously unknown songs, there is are elements of familiar ideas being fleshed out for further consideration. Opening track and first teaser ‘Apparatchik’ finds Noonan in comfortable harmony with Lisa Hannigan, while a duet Hannigan has previously performed with him, ‘Some Surprise’, is handled here by Australian folk singer Julia Stone. This arrangement of that song came as some surprise to me, switching Noonan’s voice to the harmony line in a lower octave, but it otherwise remains true to the previously recorded version.

Similarly, ‘The Snowman’, originally a Bell X1 throwaway from 2009’s ‘Blue Lights on the Runway’, sees the light of day here in a stripped back acoustic version with the additional vocal layer sung by Gemma Hayes. The harmony is pretty, but lacking a definitive musical intent, it detracts from the quietly introspective lyrics. Then again, I’ve been chasing my tail around this song for a long time, and I’m not sure I’ve ever really gotten the gist of it anyway. Its own lyric, “I’m not saying it’s all come to nothing / It’s all come to something I’m not quite getting,” seems to sum it up most appropriately.

In ‘The Cartographer’, Noonan extends a metaphor he previously explored in the song ‘West of Her Spine’ from Bell X1’s 2003 album ‘Music in Mouth’. It might at first seem lazy for a songwriter to recycle themes in such an obvious way, but in this case the song does take a slightly new perspective on the intimacy of the described circumstance, sharing it with another voice as one would share that moment with another person. The vocal back and forth on this track is sweet and pure, the slight weakness in Noonan’s voice adequately covered by the rich texture of Maria Doyle Kennedy.

The most striking vocal combinations on the album are with Amy Millan (Broken Social Scene, Stars) on ‘If I Had Your Grace’ and Danielle Harrison on ‘My Rome Is Burning’. The purity in each of their singing voices is a perfect match for Noonan’s light and unaffected tone, allowing the quiet warmth in the lyrics to shine through the songs’ delicate arrangements.

Two narrative tracks, ‘Mrs Winchester’ (performed with Martha Wainwright) and ‘The Dolphins and the World’s Tallest Man’ (with Cathy Davey) both have a very definite Americana folk flavor in their music. In the case of ‘Mrs Winchester’, the plot line of the song is also straight out of the American West, relating the endlessly sad tale of Sarah L Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune. ‘The Dolphins and The World’s Tallest Man’ is another bizarre tale about exactly what the title suggests, inspired by the hero of a news story from 2006. In typical Noonan fashion, the final lines of the song fix a disarming focus on a seemingly inane detail, relating the man’s effort to find a wife by advertising on the Internet: “It’s funny how these things work out / she was only from down the road / and she worked in sales”.

‘Printer Clips’ has the very definite feel of a side project by a songwriter with spare time on his hands and loose ends on his mind. Despite the spontaneous nature of the recording style, the songs themselves are carefully considered and sensitively crafted, managing to achieve both a measure of cerebral intrigue and an impression of sincere charm.

7.5/10

“Printer Clips’ is due for release on the 23rd of May on Bone China Records. Printer Clips are scheduled to perform live on the 24th of May at The National Concert Hall, Dublin. Listen to a stream of ‘Mrs Winchester’ below.

 

In the Post #122: Bell X1 frontman Paul Noonan presents new project Printer Clips

 
By on Tuesday, 15th April 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Rich Gilligan

Side projects and collaborations seem to be all the rage among established musicians these days, and Bell X1 frontman Paul Noonan has recently jumped into the mix with a venture called Printer Clips. The project consists of a series of duets written by Noonan and performed with female singers including previous duet partner Lisa Hannigan, Martha Wainwright, and Julia Stone, then recorded in spontaneous and unstructured settings.

The first release from the project, ‘Apparatchik’, features the somewhat predictable combination of Noonan and Hannigan, whose voices blend together in harmony as beautifully here as on their version of ‘Some Surprise,’ from the 2006 project The Cake Sale. ‘Apparatchik’ is a very pretty, melodic little tune, which I found myself humming back after only one brief listen, but as usual with Noonan’s songwriting, there’s more to it than what’s on the surface. Lyrically, it has moments of downright ugliness, especially in the lines, “These are the punches that we roll with / This is the shit / But it’s so much easier to stomach it / When I’m downwind of you.” The juxtaposition of that obnoxiously unpleasant line with its elegantly lilting melodic phrasing is jarring, I suspect deliberately so.

The song’s title, ‘Apparatchik’, is an old Russian term for a professional member of the Communist party, now often used in a disparaging way to describe members of any large political organization as parts of a self-perpetuating machine. I almost wonder if Noonan might have been referring to his own role in Bell X1 there, but overall the song seems like a larger rumination on life, especially in its final repeated line, which I believe is quoted from a stencil by street artist Banksy, “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge”.

‘Apparatchik’ is the first release from Printer Clips’ upcoming EP ‘The Left Sleeve’, which is due for digital-only release on the 25th of April. A second digital EP, ‘The Right Sleeve’, is scheduled for release on Bone China Records on the 16th of May, followed by a physical and digital release of the full self-titled LP on the 23rd of May. This curious schedule reminds me of the idea Noonan discussed for Bell X1 album ‘Chop Chop’ in my interview with him last year, and it’s interesting to see that design come to fruition, albeit in a slightly different context.

In the end, as always, the interpretation lies with the listener; you can form your own opinion after taking a listen to ‘Apparatchik’ below. Printer Clips will perform a live premiere on the 24th of May at The National Concert Hall, Dublin.

 
 
 

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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