The Underground Wires DNA Test: Dublin Duck Dispensary


Playing the Jeremy Kyle to children with disputable dynastic claims, the Underground Wires DNA Test is an examination of the consanguinity of some of our favourite upcoming artists. We want to know if they gleam their lyrical leanings from a third cousin, or which grandad thought them how to play piano. Asking artists to embrace their heritage rather than hide it (after all, everybody has a dodgy uncle they’d rather their mates didn’t know about) we aim not to reduce a contemporary artist’s work to mere influence, but rejoice in their confraternity like Gary Barlow told us all to in ‘Never Forget’. The Test Results are downloadable in Mediafire mixtape form for closer inspection.

Bobby Duck Dispensary sent me his DNA Test ready-packed about six months ago, but having neglected the blog like everything else in my life (see also: hygiene, resolutions, children) it’s been stewing in my Gmail like the puy in a spicy lentil soup. Thankfully, it’s still certified fresh, and possibly more important than ever. Firstly, DDD’s last full-scale release (well… as full-scale as homemade mini-CDs in limited edition get), the joyous Yykes Basket just got a not-typically-cynical review in The Wire mag. Secondly, a drunken Dublin Duck Dispensary spokesman recently revealed the band might never play in their current guise in Dublin again. Get them while they’re still hot, salty, and hopping. Like microwave popcorn.

My own affection for DDD stretches back to days before I realized my social circle made a neat Venn Diagram with Bobby’s. In fact, we were acquainted about half a year before his identity was revealed. There were no gigs. There were no goals. There were music. And lots of it. DDD’s earlier output was marked by off-beat drums and shambling guitars, with a surf-pop sensibility trying to climb the peaks of home-recorded wavelengths. DDD’s later output (the near-sublime Luanqibazao, the heart-bound Yykes Basket) nearly got the drums in time, and developed the Dispensary aesthetic (which found itself in Fader-fashion thanks to Wavves, Crystal Stilts, and the rest of the American fuzztone egg basket) into more expansive territories. The best part? It’s nearly all free. Check the Duckspace, or Rack and Ruin for some easily-downloadable shots of sugar.

1. Brainiac – Indian Poker [Part 3]

Impoverished and grubby noise, this is like Brainiac poured petrol on and set fire to a tramp’s filthy baby toenail and then hooked it up to Roald Dahl’s sound machine (instead of a tree) The first 33 seconds are some of the most exciting seconds in music and the final 19 seconds (the drums!) are some of the most bewilderingly joyous. This song makes me feel a bit like a Satanist Viking during the last minute of his longboat voyage to Valhalla. What more could you want from a choon?

2. The Gerbils – Crayon Box

I’m letting The Gerbils represent the very very verrrrrrry obvious influence which the Elephant 6 collective have had upon my carbon emissions. OK OK… I admit it! All I want is to be a part of Elephant 6! There! Happy now?!?! PUT ME IN GEORGIA FIFTEEN YEARS AGO! Actually, no don’t.

3. Robert Barry Andrews – The Famous Five Theme Tune

“The three greatest things on earth are friendship, togetherness and ginger ale.” That’s from The Bible. This isn’t just what a TV show theme tune should be… this is what ALL songs should strive to be. This little jingle nearly makes me feel like weeping. I get the feeling it was written by a big Beatles’ fan, but it’s better than anything those fellows ever did. It makes me feel nostalgic for a time and place I never lived, and proud of something I never did. I recently realised that my song ‘Electric Picnic’ is lyrically a bit like this. Just listen to this instead.

4. The Polyphonic Spree – Some of the Parts

I like that this song is completely non-sequitur and features handclaps. Cos I like doing that shit too! This is a weird song by the weirdest band on earth. It’s a great song by the greatest band on earth. It’s a song song by the songiest band on earth. It’s a song by a band on earth. You get the idea.

5. Rollerskate Skinny – Speed To My Side

This is the best Irish song ever written, so it’s an obvious – if entirely unwieldy – influence. The way it wallows and swells and sinks and swims is awestriking shit. It’s experimentation without sacrifice, with bursts of noise positioned so that its melodic joy peaks perfectly. Rollerskate Skinny were an early, Irish Animal Collective. Fair play, ladz.

6. Jan and Dean – Surf City

I know nothing of surfing except that it’s a H20-based activity which has been ruined by Quiksilver, Billabong and bleach-headed bozos. That makes me an ignorant snob. I’m probably even wrong. Ah, but how Jan and Dean still take me back to the good ol’ days of the curl! A time when we didn’t have to lock our doors at night. A time when we didn’t even have doors TO lock. I first heard (and became addicted to) ‘Surf City’ last November. At the next DDD band practice, I had a fit of the giggles during each song we played, as I bizarrely realised that everything I’d ever written had been subconsciously based on this one golden oldie which I’d never even heard.

7. Jacques Brel – Le Moribond

I like the pep and romance and atmosphere of French pop. This song is heartbreaking. There’s so much soul and urgency in the delivery… it’s pretty theatrical. Even if you don’t know a word of French, you’re probably still feeling all the right emotions when you listen to it. Listen to this, then listen to Westlife’s version… it’s a helpful reminder of the fine line between high art and putrid shit.

8. The Sherman Bros – Doll on a Music Box

So sweet, to rot yr teeth. So weird, to curl yr beard. Counterpoint. Brownie points. Every song in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is absolutely amazing and all dem melodies done gone and been stuck in my head for over 15 years now… Except for the fast forward fast shitty (shitty bang bang) one which Truly sings on her own in the garden after the first date.

9. Daniel Johnston – Walking The Cow

When Daniel Dale was making his first/best albums, he didn’t have a way of duplicating his tapes, so he had to record each copy separately. That’s dedication, maaaaaan. That’s sincerity, maaaaaan! That’s a sweet sign of someone just doing this stuff pour la buzz. I always wonder what Mr. Johnston thought/thinks about his music; as good songs badly recorded, or as genius “lo-fi” pioneering nuggets? I wonder if he knows how good he is? His lyrics are particularly inspiring. He doesn’t throw a veil over his feelings to prevent peeps going “this dude’s a wacko!”. I think D.J. probably made me ok with the idea of my music exposing me as a fucking fruit to my friends. I used to have a Laurie too, but then it turned out good.

10. 1910 Fruitgum Company – A, B, C, I Love You

If one of today’s pop groups were to release a single with lyrics as nonsensical and cliché as “A: I love you/B: you’re beautiful to see, I couldn’t live without your love”, I might spit blood. I probably wouldn’t, but the song wouldn’t be anywhere near as beautifully unpretentious or grinning as this. And you can bet your last stick of bubblegum the band wouldn’t be called something like ‘The 1910 Fruitgum Company’ either. Wonderful playground melodies, glissando fairground synthlines and a near-creepiness to the dead-set stalkeresque breakdown: “A, B, C, I love you. A, B, C, I LOVE YOU!”. You can’t say no, babycakes.

11. The Revs- Good Times

The Revs were the first rock band I ever saw. They were the reason I bought a guitar. I saw them live like 40 times.

12. Tripping Daisy – Field Day Jitters

This is my favourite song of ALL ETERNITY. It’s also the first song on my favourite album of ALL ETERNITY. It makes my insides tumble and ignite. The drums blow my mind. There are so many movements to it. It’s always building, but it’s also constantly climaxing. It’s the perfect composition. I wanna dance to this on my deathbed.

Grab the DNA Test in MP3 form:

Have a read of while you’re listening


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August 2009


The frighteningly curly and terrifyingly talented Cait Fahey designed our banner. Buy her a Marks and Spencer's white chocolate cookie the next time you see her.

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