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Kinect Does Microsoft’s new gizmo live up to the hype?


Showing two fingers to the recession with Two Door Cinema Club, Not Squares, Big Wave Surfing and 27 more Very Good Things Grinderman Up close and personal with Nick Cave and the boys Simian Mobile Disco Talking techno & ‘specialist’ foodstuffs The Demise of The Walkman Spent batteries, mangled tapes & two albums on one C90 – we salute a legend

LaFaro / Bouncers / Fighting With Wire / Jon Spencer / Cap Pas Cap / Leslie Nielsen / Perfume Genius —1 AU Magazine— Caribou / DELS / Twin Shadow / Minutemen / The Wedding Present / Neil Gaiman / Kanye West / The Ting Tings

my inspiration Katy Perry

“The only people for me are the mad ones - the ones who never say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...and everybody goes “Awww!” Jack Kerouac On The Road

Photography by Emma Summerton

—2 issue 70—

ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac Published by Penguin


7 10 12 13 14 16 17 18 20 22 26

The Definitive Articles Hot Topic: The Demise Of The Walkman Bouncer Controversy Fighting With Wire / Jon Spencer Five To One: Xmas Flops Band Maths: My Chemical Romance Cap Pas Cap / All Hail Leslie Nielsen Perfume Genius / Unknown Pleasures In The Studio: LaFaro Caribou Incoming: Superhumanoids / Gatekeeper / Is Tropical / Twin Shadow / DELS / Dreamend / Talons / Meljoann Hey You! What's On Your iPod?


27 28 30 34 36

Flashback: The Death Of D. Boon from The Minutemen History Lessons: The Wedding Present A To Z: Politics Respect Your Shelf: Neil Gaiman Classic Film: O Brother, Where Art Thou?


38 42 44 48

Grinderman Kinect and the Future of Gaming Simian Mobile Disco Reasons To Be Cheerful


61 Album Reviews 67 Live Reviews 68 Unsigned Universe SUBBACULTCHA

70 72 74 76 78 80 82

Screen Games Arts Keep 'Er Lit Back Of The Net In Pictures: Not Squares Album Launch / The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project The Last Word: The Ting Tings

To advertise in AU Magazine contact the sales team Tel: 028 9032 4888 or via email: andrew@iheartau.com The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Copyright remains with the author / photographer / designer. Send demos / mail / material to: AU Magazine, 2nd Floor, 21 Ormeau Avenue, Belfast, BT2 8HD For more info contact: info@iheartau.com For all general and editorial enquiries call: 028 9032 4455 IMAGE:


AU Magazine graciously acknowledges funding support from the Arts Council Of Northern Ireland —3 AU Magazine—

—4 issue 70—

—5 AU Magazine—

EDITORIAL Every single year at this exact same time I say the exact same thing. Where the mother eff does the time go, and how come it keeps passing faster? Yet just because I say it every year it doesn’t stop it being true. 2010 seemed to go by in the blink of an eye, and it’s incredible just how much things can move in a year. Two Door Cinema Club are a prime example of the level you can achieve inside 12 months. They had been building a head of steam before 2010 hit, but then their debut album dropped and things just blew up. They’ve toured the globe, appeared on radio and TV the world over, and done so many amazing things that it’s almost impossible to count them. The band are a testament to what happens when talent and hard work collide. Two Door Cinema Club are just one of the many reasons to be proud of the country’s output right now. The economic forecast might be one of doom and gloom, but creative culture is thriving. Now let’s get ready to turn things up to ’11. Jonny

STUPID THINGS SAID THIS MONTH She tried to digitise me. Controversial, but my tits might be better than my legs. TV is the medium by which culture is reflected. Do you want my verdict? Derry, quite nice, despite the overuse of Comic Sans everywhere. Can I get a veggie fry, with extra black pudding please? I need a massive dongle. You have very well developed calves. I am not a benchmark. You look like someone from Shoreditch ejaculated in your face. Do you have potatoes in Ireland? 'Where did you get your surname from?' 'My dad?' I just haven't met the right penis yet. I lived on a diet of cunt soup. My head is awash with 303s. Growing a beard, Tim? No it's ok, I've got Leanne's car.

ROLL CALL Publisher / Editor In Chief

Jonny Tiernan


Chris Jones

Contributing Editors

Francis Jones Edwin McFee Ross Thompson


Kiran Acharya, Josh Baines, Jonathan Bradley, Niall Byrne, Reggie ChamberlainKing, Tia Clarke, Brian Coney, Barry Cullen, Neill Dougan, Patrick Fennelly, Mickey Ferry, John Freeman, Lee Gorman, Niall Harden, Niamh Hegarty, James Hendicott, Andrew Johnston, Adam Lacey, Kirstie May, Nay McArdle, Gary McCall, Darragh McCausland, Karl McDonald, Mike McGrath-Bryan, Aoife McKeown, Jason Mills, Kenny Murdock, Joe Nawaz, Harriet Pittard, Steven Rainey, Kyle Robinson, Eamonn Seoige.


Stuart Bell, Tim Farrell


Rebecca Hendin Shauna McGowan Mark Reihill


Lili Forberg Ryan Hughes Luke Joyce

Business Manager

Andrew Scott

If you’d like to stock AU in your business, or you live in an area where AU isn’t currently stocked, but you’d like to see it available, then drop info@iheartau.com a line. We’ll sort you out. —6 issue 70—


The Definitive Articles



END OF YEAR PARTIES No matter where you normally stand on the New Year’s Eve festivities – partying it up in town, a few pints down the local or a glass of wine with Jools Holland on the telly – this year has thrown up a bumper crop of options to tempt you out to savour some live music. Traditionally, dance nights do well on New Year’s Eve and Belfast institution Shine tends to roll out the big guns. This year, techno legend Dave Clarke is joined by local heroes Phil Kieran and Psycatron for what promises to be an uncompromising night. If techno isn’t your thing, head to Auntie Annie’s, where the regular Animal Disco club will feature a live set from Not Squares after midnight. Dublin party people also get a chance to see Not Squares, as they are playing support to NYC’s (if not the world’s) foremost post-punk party band, Les Savy Fav (pictured, left), at an early gig at the Button Factory. Gig-goers are spoilt for choice in the Irish capital, in fact. At Vicar Street the Mixed Tape NYE Party features Cathy Davey, Neil Hannon, Lisa Hannigan, David O’Doherty, Jape, The Ambience Affair and more; Fight Like Apes headline the Phantom 105.2FM New Year’s Eve Party at The Village; while next door at Whelan’s, Northern Irish instrumentalists And So I Watch You From Afar are joined by Richter Collective band Jogging and atmospheric electronic artist Hunter-Gatherer. In the west, meanwhile, Galway’s Roisin Dubh plays host to an indie extravaganza – The Cast Of Cheers, Le Galaxie, Lost Chord, Enemies and We Are Losers and DJ Gugai. Dublin’s dance fans are catered well catered for, too. Head down to the Tripod to catch live sets by Derry’s Japanese Popstars (NI acts being a feature in Dublin this year) and Kormac’s Big Band as well as hip-hop DJ Tu-Ki, while in the centre of town Fabric regular Ewan Pearson heads up a full-to-bursting bill over five areas at the Twisted Pepper. Of course, you could always hide under your duvet, curl up into a ball and pretend that the onward march of time isn’t really happening, but we humbly suggest that you would be missing out. Get the glad rags, hat and scarf on and get out there. CJ Check local listings for more.


Words by Andrew Johnston, Chris Jones, Kirstie May and Ross Thompson

—7 AU Magazine—

The Definitive Articles




MACHETE Danny Trejo as a scar-faced, bad-assed, machete-wielding Mexican Federale-turnedvengeance-seeking renegade hunting down Steven Seagal, Robert De Niro and Don Johnson in a film co-directed by Robert (Planet Terror) Rodriguez? 2010’s most gonzoid movie is upon us. Expanded from one of the fake trailers in Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse, Machete also boasts Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan (yes, she acts, too) and cult favourite Jeff Fahey. Expect blood, guts, explosions, hot chicks, big guns, bigger knives and more hot chicks. AJ Machete is on general release now



The off-kilter Dexter, a serial about a serial killer, is hitting a confident, compelling stride. The just-released Season Four takes everybody’s favourite sociopathic blood splatter analyst down some even darker tunnels. Now with a baby in tow, Dexter is struggling with some serious father issues, and trying to juggle work, pleasure and changing diapers is beginning to take its toll. Notching up yet another major league trophy for the show, this season is stolen by John Lithgow, who plays an emotionally tortured rival murderer with creepy relish. Outstanding. RT Dexter Season Four is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray

That Was The Year That Was THE COMEDY SHOW

The weekends leading up to Christmas have been designated Festive Funnies at the Grand Opera House in Belfast. The climax of the season, though, is Tim McGarry’s comedy review of the year, That Was The Year That Was – with satirist extraordinaire Andy Zaltzman (pictured) his guest. With the global economy, the Robinsons, the Irish government and the Vatican in crisis in 2010 – and Zaltzman’s English perspective – they should have plenty to chew on. CJ Saturday, December 18 at the Grand Opera House, Belfast. www.goh.co.uk

—8 issue 70—



LittleBigPlanet 2 Most tie-in merchandise isn’t worth the plastic it’s made from but we’ll make an exception for the goodies Sony have commissioned to promote the forthcoming LittleBigPlanet 2. There are mugs, key-fobs and tees, but the most desirable are these ultra cute ‘Sackboy’ beanies. How can you not fall in love with something which looks like it comes from a hospital for war-injured toys? Even better, the game itself promises to be a blinder, further expanding upon the boundless potential for user generated content which marked out the first instalment. RT



December and January are traditionally a barren time for new album releases, as the music world’s attention is drawn to the best of what has gone before, and then speculation as to what lies in store for the year ahead. But there is always the odd new release puncturing the lists, and in this case a very significant one. Portland, Oregon’s The Decemberists are true indie royalty and their sixth opus The King Is Dead is out in the middle of January. So take your eyes off the past and the future and back onto the here and now. Colin Meloy’s dulcet tones and lyrical genius should be reward enough. CJ




The Samsung Galaxy TAB is available now, priced at around £450-£500.

The Trip On paper, the idea was rather unpromising. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drive around the north of England, reviewing restaurants and playing themselves. Plot? Script?? Pah. But from that flimsy premise has come one of the TV treats of the year, as the two fortysomething actors travel around heart-stoppingly beautiful scenery, dine in fine restaurants and talk to each other about… not a lot. As poignant as it is laugh-out-loud funny, The Trip is a show about middle-age, masculinity, disappointment… and impressions. And it’s right at the top of AU's Christmas wish-list. CJ

The Trip is out on DVD on December 13

Doctor Who

Samsung Galaxy Tab As is often the case, where Apple go others follow, and the time has come to see what all the other gadget companies can do with their iPad-style tablet devices. The iPad itself has had a mostly positive – but not ecstatic – response, and it appears that Samsung’s effort is far from a carbon copy. It is smaller for a start, it has two cameras and can be used as a phone, and the Android software supports multitasking. Whether or not tablets will become as ubiquitous as laptops or even smartphones remains to be seen – you could say they’re an answer to a question noone asked – but it will be interesting to find out. CJ

Nothing beats a long holiday, a warm room, a soft chair and a good read. The Christmas break will be nicely accompanied by the latest novel from one of the world’s most prolific and consistently excellent writers. Paul Auster, who couldn’t write a bad sentence if he tried his hardest, tackles more existential dilemmas in Sunset Park. As usual, it’s funny, thoughtprovoking stuff, more so than you would expect from a book about the current financial recession. Don’t let that put you off: Auster’s concern is always with the rusty cylinders of the human heart. RT Sunset Park is out now, published by Faber and Faber

LittleBigPlanet 2 is out in January

The Decemberists The King Is Dead

Sunset Park by Paul Auster


In the five years since its astonishing revival, the Doctor Who Christmas Special has become a light entertainment fixture in many a festive home. And who can blame the millions glued to their boxes? This year’s edition, entitled ‘A Christmas Carol’, sees the Doctor, winningly played by Matt Smith, trying to save his foxy Scottish assistant Amy and partner Rory trapped on a crashing space liner. With appearances from esteemed actor Michael Gambon and Welsh classical crumpet Katherine Jenkins, it’s not to be missed. KM The Doctor Who Christmas Special will be shown on Christmas Day on BBC1. —9 AU Magazine—

Walk On


Hot Topic

WALK ON As the humble Sony Walkman finally ceases mass production after 31 (in)glorious years, AU’s Adam Lacey looks back on his teenage years of bashed-up cassettes, mangled tapes and schoolyard trades… If you ever want to recreate the full, unadulterated sound of a Walkman – that unforgettably shit, fluctuating, distorting, rightear-to-left-ear abomination – simply head to a major Irish festival that packs a ‘punch’ and stand near the back of the main stage. Easily replicated. But there is one specific sound that no festival or iPod can give, one that I associate with a revolution in my music life: the slow, churning, mechanical squelch of auto-reverse on my trusty Walkman. I am, thankfully, too young to have experienced the wonder of the infamous Sony portable cassette-player in the Eighties – it was the earlyto-mid Nineties for me. In school during that fertile period (musically only...), tape-swapping was the way to get new tunes... unless you were one of the rich kids. That and taping off Dave Fanning’s radio show on 2fm. He really was the shit once. I also had a cousin who worked in a local record shop and I used to tape the CDs he’d bring home. Opened my ears to some awful muck. Never trust family tunes. However, the Walkman was the de rigeur music player of the day. The smaller the better. With volume control on the headphone cable and auto-reverse. How else were you going to change from Troublegum to Nurse – take the tape out? Getting a Walkman was a thrill but my first slimline model was a thing of beauty. It barely seemed larger than the tape hidden inside and I had a collection of cassettes in my schoolbag at all times and on rotation. Two albums per tape: Goo and Dirty. Bleach and Nevermind. The aforementioned Therapy? pair Rage Against The Machine and Dirt. Check Your Head and a lot of Guns N’ Roses. In retrospect, this is a decent starter selection. And thankfully, the first tapes I listened to

—10 issue 70—

Gone But (Alas) Not Forgotten Obsolete technology we loved to hate

8-tracks While often mentioned in US films, we in Europe never really saw much of these large tape-type thingies that seemed to resemble giant Sega Megadrive games cartridges. There are Springsteen collectible 8-tracks out there and Kurt Cobain talked of releasing In Utero on 8-track but this never happened. By all accounts, it’s good that they’re gone. They were starting to be phased out by 1982.

on my series of Walkmans were not the first I ever owned, which were Michael Jackson’s Bad and Kylie Minogue’s eponymous debut album. Seriously. Headphones for the Walkman were worn with pride, peeping out of the school jumper like an amulet of cool. Your choice of sound was mono or stereo. Regardless of what the audiophiles’ choice would have been, mono made less hissing. Decision made. For some reason when I saw the (admittedly, now ghastly) Sony Sports Walkman for the first time, I wanted it. I got the impression it was completely waterproof and I enjoyed swimming. Frustratingly, the only time I had my hands on one was when my dad bought one for himself. Forgotten now are the chewed-up tapes, the batteries running out every second day, the thing not closing properly unless taped shut, the broken auto-reverse that mangled my favourite cassettes and the crappy hiss of an album recorded off a copy that was recorded off a copy of a copy. I seem to remember that rewinding the cassettes by twirling them on a pencil to conserve precious battery life never failed to entertain. And now I’m left with happy memories of my Walkman. Sadly, the last Walkman rolled off the production line towards the end of October 2010, leading to an outpouring of nostalgic tales from every corner, more than 30 years after it was first created. Invented in 1978 by a Sony engineer by the name of

VCR Thank Christ these are basically gone. I had hours of Guns N’ Roses footage taped onto VCR and a friend of mine actually compiled his own porn highlights package tapes by hooking two VCRs up together. Bad sound, bad picture, bad bad bad. I wept with joy when DVD came in. However, I still have hundreds of videos ‘acquired’ from my years as a video shop worker. If anyone wants them, give me a bell.

Phone conversations Talking on the phone now seems laughable but there was a time when people actually dialled a number and spoke with friends and associates for minutes on end. Thankfully with the advent of Twitter, texting, Facebook and retro-pigeon messaging, ‘phone calls’ were phased out over three years ago and are now really limited to doddery relatives and junkies seeking bail from their disappointed families.

Nobutoshi Kihara, it became an accidental hit. Sony co-chairman Akio Morita had the urge to listen to opera music while on long airplane trips and so he was duly obliged by Kihara with the first Walkman. The device took off and quickly became a teenage must-have thanks to its unique selling point: if it could be taped, it could be listened to anywhere.

And let’s not forget the coolest Transformer, Soundwave, who had a cassette in his chest and transformed into a bloody soundsystem. A walking, talking Walkman. And in 2010? Well, the vinyl fetishists have a new nemesis. Cassettes are back and while you could listen on a tape deck, surely the Walkman will return in a big way, sooner rather than later. Labels like Not Not Fun and Belfast’s Cass/Flick, the Curatorial Club blog and magazines like Impose are issuing tape releases as a throwback to the days of hiss.

Mixtapes were the be-all and end-all and could be traded – a kind of musical currency at school. Posh models even acted as dictaphones for some, though I had no aspirations to do a ‘Cameron Crowe’ as a teenager and start interviewing Zep… or The Stunning. In a smart move, Sony pioneered the notion of portable music as a sign of youth. Teenagers were targeted in Walkman ads and Sony hoped that the device would become associated with the spirit of the younger generation, vitality and hope for the future. Even now, the name lives on in Walkman mp3 players and Walkman phones from Sony Ericsson. The iPod is ubiquitous but the Walkman brand has managed to hold on, if not the cassette player itself. In the 31 years since its introduction, it has sold about 220 million units and it even wangled its way into the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid-Eighties. Now, with the discontinuation of the Walkman cassette player in its home nation of Japan, China has announced they will continue to produce a few – they can be purchased online for around €25. But they’ll run out.

While vinyl-collectors will often bore you with details of the high fidelity and truly unbeatable audio of their much-talked about wax collection, tapes are just tapes. And if you want to play one on the move, you’ll need a Walkman. Tapes are crap, they’re small, they break and they unspool. But they have that rattle, that look of something you could construct with your bare hands. Where would I have been without my Walkman and my tapes? They feel relevant to so many people’s awkward adolescences because of their abundant imperfections. There was no collectible Rough Trade carrier tote for tapes – there was just a bag in which they smashed around, often into your Walkman, hitting play and running your batteries out. What’s not to love? I’m off to dig out my Walkman and listen to some vintage Kylie.

—11 AU Magazine—



In The Studio: LaFaro

HAVE SECURITY CROSSED THE LINE? Dublin and Belfast's bouncer boycotts

Illustration by Mark Reihill

Bouncers, necessarily perhaps, are an aggressive bunch. Standing dutifully at venue doors, black suits barely hiding a substantial stature, it’s not difficult to see the relationship between punter and doorman as something of a battle. On one hand, bouncers secure premises: if a fight breaks out, most suddenly have an entirely more positive feeling about their presence. If you’re on the wrong side of things, though, a reputation as ‘not the sharpest tool in the box’ combined with a shove in the wrong direction soon has the men in black cast as the bad guys. In the past couple of months, events in our two largest cities have fuelled this anger, leading to calls for legal action and sizable Internet campaigns. A disabled punter recently at Rain, Belfast alleges that a member of the nightclub’s staff refused him access to the club to avoid “carrying a wheelchair up the stairs”. Soon, an article appeared in the Irish News and a Facebook protest group of 12,000 promising legal action rose up in support. Later, the group disappeared. The implication is a nasty one, but the club – bafflingly unwilling to release a public statement – seem to see things differently in private. A member of Rain’s staff anonymously informed us that the event described isn’t logical, as going —12 issue 70—

upstairs wouldn’t be an issue on entry. While this remains an unofficial stance, whispers on the Internet – combined with the deletion of the group – do suggest that the issue may not be as cut-and-dried as it first appeared. Events in the POD complex in Dublin have caused similar consternation down south. The group ‘Bands Against Crawdaddy’ formed after violence marred local band Home Star Runner’s

“It’s not your night mate. Why do you think?” – alleged comment by bouncer to disabled punter at Rain, Belfast. final show in September. Numerous punters allege that Crawdaddy’s bouncers punched the girlfriend of a band member, leading to a street fight that amounted to “uniformed thuggery”; one member of Home Star Runner ended up in a cell. Half a dozen YouTube videos are inconclusive when it comes to blame, but they certainly show a volatile, violent atmosphere outside the show. As a result, a number of Dublin bands have vowed never to play the venue again. POD’s response states: “We’ve watched the security footage and can categorically confirm

that no females were struck or injured, and that security acted in a responsive manner to being physically attacked… to prevent the incident escalating further.” Sure, the punters are likely to have played a role, but it seems unlikely to us that security footage could provide “categorical” proof that an event didn’t take place. ‘Bands Against Crawdaddy’ contest that the POD’s statement is “a complete pack of lies”. The violence is undeniable, but outside of a court of law it’s difficult to even begin to assign responsibility.   We can’t make snap judgments on these particular cases, but we can offer some advice. Prerequisite licenses tests by the Security Industry Authority (UK) and the Private Security Authority (Ireland) demand training in safety and crowd control, and exclude anyone with serious convictions. If you do encounter problems, a combination of reliable eyewitnesses and the badge ID number displayed should be enough to report the incident or take legal action.   It is in bouncers’ interests to keep things calm: the comeback from any events could have far more serious consequences for them than for you. As fallible people working in a highly volatile environment, door staff don’t always get things right, but it pays to remember that one bouncer is not the next. And despite any bad experiences you may have had over the years, the professions probably saved you a lot of aggro. James Hendicott

Do You Remember?

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion



Jon Spencer on the Blues Explosion reissues and two decades together

With: Cahir O'Doherty from Fighting With Wire

What is your earliest musical memory? XTC – ‘Making Plans For Nigel’ What is the first record you ever owned, and do you still listen to it? It was an Erasure album, I can’t remember which one though. I was a big fan and even now, every now and then I’ll stick Erasure on and the memories from my terrible Eighties childhood come flooding back.   What piece of music moves you to tears? The A-Team theme tune. I met Face [Dirk Benedict] a few years ago in Dublin because we were doing a show together [laughs]. I think it’s the only time I’ve been starstruck, still brings a tear to my eye.   What three albums would you force a total stranger to listen to? Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come Nirvana - In Utero Braid - Frame And Canvas Who was the last band or artist that you became obsessed about?

Nirvana What record would you use to seduce someone? The LaFaro album What was the first band you ever saw live? Nirvana   What about the worst band you’ve ever seen live? There have been so many, I find it hard to choose one... I’ll go with Editors – they were fucking shite!   What would be your desert island album? Death Cab For Cutie – The Photo Album   What one song best captures your character? The A-Team theme tune   Who is your all time favourite artist? Kurt Cobain Fighting With Wire play the Stiff Kitten, Belfast on December 22 and the Nerve Centre, Derry on December 23. www.myspace.com/ fightingwithwire

Jon Spencer is surprisingly softly spoken for a man who has propped up an entire musical genre for the last twenty years. As frontman for Pussy Galore, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Boss Hog and, more recently, Heavy Trash, Spencer has been responsible for the existence and preservation of the most sublime dirty, fucked-up, Fifties-influenced garage rock ‘n’ roll and avant-punk blues. In his wake have come imitators like The Immortal Lee County Killers, The Jim Jones Revue and everyone’s favourite collaborator, Jack White. In celebration of The Blues Explosion’s 20 years together, with an original line-up that includes Judah Bauer and Russell Simins, the first six albums are about to be re-released on Shout Records. Each has a glut of additional material and the reissues also include the legendary live album Controversial Negro, previously only available as a Japanese import or concert giveaway. AU spoke to Jon Spencer for his take on the first 20 years of The Blues Explosion and, disappointingly, he didn’t once refer to the interviewer as ‘motherfucker’ or yell out ‘Blues Explosion’ in the middle of an answer. After two decades with the same line-up, we have to wonder: what’s the secret to not killing each other? “You know, I was very lucky to meet Judah and Russell,” says Spencer. “We’re very alike and although a band is like other relationships, you can’t live in the same house and you’ve got to take breaks. We’ve taken breaks before this one and that’s important. That and respect for the other people in the band.” The Blues Explosion came to prominence in the UK in 1994 after a live performance on Channel

4’s The Word, a controversial late night youth TV programme, then fronted by Mark Lamarr. At the time, he described the band as the best live act he’d ever seen. “Yeah, we didn’t know Mark because he wasn’t on TV in the US but he was very sweet and supportive. We were grateful because we’ve never had the exposure at home like in the UK or Japan. America is a huge place and a lot of what we achieved there was down to sheer hard work. We toured the States non-stop in the early days, but that’s what we do and we do it because we enjoy it.” The Blues Explosion’s reputation was built on their live show and a touring schedule that would have broken most bands. This was not helped by their unique sound and style. “I don’t think, at any time in the band’s history, that we’ve considered ourselves part of a scene,” Spencer says. “We were lucky that some people invited us out on tour like The Breeders, the Beastie Boys and The Jesus Lizard, but I don’t think we were ever part of a movement.” In the mid-Nineties, Jon Spencer was accused by purists of all manner of social misdemeanours, like diluting traditionally black blues music with the punk and rap of white trash America. And this was before the PC insanity of the 2000s. “Sure, some people labelled us as racist, but I don’t think that was because of political correctness gone awry. It was just stupidity. People just didn’t get the band or what we were trying to do. There was never a question of disrespecting the blues. In fact, we’ve been accused of poking fun at this music, but that’s not true. We play rock ‘n’ roll music. We take it very seriously and we’ve always believed 100% in what we do.” Kenny Murdock The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion reissue their entire back catalogue on December 13 via Shout Records. www.thejonspencerbluesexplosion.com —13 AU Magazine—


Five To One / Band Maths

FIVE TO ONE // Christmas Flops





Bad News – ‘Cashing In On Christmas’ By the time spoof metal mob Bad News released this dismal Christmas single, the joke had worn thinner than bassist Colin Grigson’s spandex trousers. Grigson – aka The Young Ones’ Rik Mayall – and co (the rest of the band was Ade Edmondson, Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson) delivered lyrics that were perhaps just too blunt in their mocking of ‘charidee’minded pop stars. The ‘News sang about “rocking all the way to the bank”, but, ironically, ‘Cashing In On Christmas’ saw little moolah. The group’s cover of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – complete with a scratch-and-sniff sleeve that smelt of farts – had been more than enough for most of the record-buying public. Rolf Harris & Rick Parfitt – ‘Christmas In The Sun’ ‘Christmas In The Sun’ is a song so naff that even famously up-for-anything Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi refused to play on it (and he wrote ‘Marguerita Time’). The 2009 single paired Quo’s Rick Parfitt with wobble-board maestro Rolf Harris, and was inspired by Harris’s memories of growing up in Australia in the 1930s. The unlikely duo certainly had confidence in the download-only ditty. “Forget rock ‘n’ roll,” said Parfitt at the time. “This is Rick ‘n’ Rolf. This is a great track that we will be playing for years to come.” Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and as Yuletide team-ups go this proved to be more Mel Smith and Kim Wilde than Bing Crosby and David Bowie.



Words by Andrew Johnston





Cliff Richard – ‘The Millennium Prayer’ ‘The Millennium Prayer’ is the thirdhighest selling single of Cliff Richard’s career – not a flop in the normal sense, then, but a bit of a clusterfuck for Sir Cliff. The God-bothering balladeer was shaken by the reaction to this, his last record of the 20th century. In hindsight, singing ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ to the tune of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was never going to win many friends. EMI refused to release it, critics panned it, radio stations banned it and it was beaten to the Christmas number-one spot by Westlife. Maybe ‘the Peter Pan of Pop’ should have put more effort in. He allegedly filmed the video in an hour, during breaks in shooting an ITV special.

The Darkness – ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ At the height of their fame – those worrying few weeks in the mid 2000s – Brit-rockers The Darkness had a numberone album, tabloids chasing them and awards coming out of their jacksies. The only thing missing was a Christmas hit, which was where this cynical dirge came in. However, more Gary Glitter B-side than everlasting anthem, ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ (do you see what they did there?) lost out on being the seasonal number one to Gary Jules and Michael Andrews’ sombre cover of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ – as good an indicator of the quality of The Darkness’s track as anything. The Macc Lads – ‘No Sheep ‘Til Buxton’ In 2009, after a Facebook campaign, Rage Against The Machine sold half a million downloads of ‘Killing In The Name’, raising £162,000 for charity and ending The X Factor’s dominance of the Christmas charts. This year, amongst several similar ventures to get unlikely songs to the coveted top spot (Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’, The Trashmen’s ‘Surfin’ Bird’, ‘I’m Glad You Got Breast Cancer’ by Anal Cunt…), are foul-mouthed punks The Macc Lads, with that delightful ode to bestiality in the Peak District, ‘No Sheep ‘Til Buxton’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, at the time of going to print only 609 people have signed up to the cause – not quite enough to land the self-proclaimed “rudest, crudest, lewdest, drunkest band in Christendom” on the December 25 Top Of The Pops, as hilarious as that would be.

BAND MATHS NO.6: NO.1: My U2 Chemical Romance 32% Bombastic arenarock 29% Pain 13% Hyper-sensitivity 12% Big black fringes 10% Whinging 4% A hint of neon

—14 issue 70—

£9 until 9:00pm £12 until midnight


admis ee the Pu sion to b and Ba lic Bar c each n k Bar ight!

—15 AU Magazine—

Cap Pas Cap / All Hail


Light At The End Of The Tunnel

All Hail Leslie Nielsen


Cap Pas Cap on a long-awaited debut album

Hard as it is to believe, Leslie Nielsen, who gaffed his way into the great beyond last month, began his career as a serious actor. Although he would become associated with corny one-liners and ludicrous pratfalls, most notably several turns as defective detective Frank Drebin in the Police Squad and Naked Gun series, Nielsen started out as a jobbing wannabe in a sea of jobbing wannabes, lending his distinctive well of treacle tones to the voiceover of numerous documentaries and his swarthy looks to nondescript westerns and musicals. Though Nielsen, to use his own phrase, auditioned for every film MGM made, losing out to Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur (1959), he came to prominence with Forbidden Planet (1956), which cribbed its wacky plot and psychedelic visuals from Shakespeare’s most experimental play, The Tempest.

As an indie band rooted in art and culture, it’s no surprise that Cap Pas Cap are flexible and open to developments. “Everything that we listen to seeps in at some level, whether it’s Talking Heads, DAF, Can or Siouxsie and the Banshees,” says guitarist and vocalist Grainne Donohue. “We all have slightly differing tastes so hopefully what we create is far enough removed so as not to become too derivative.” Assured and confident, the new Cap Pas Cap album Haunted Light was a long time in the making but worth the wait. Originally a four-piece, the early sound was upbeat and bright with Gavin Duffy on vocals, pinned to the EPs Not Not Is Fine in 2006, followed by We Are Men in 2008. Then Gavin left to concentrate on his other band Thread Pulls, leaving the three members; Grainne, Jamie Farrell and Ed Kelly. “The line up changes necessitated a shift in the band dynamic, with some of us changing instruments and for me, taking over all the vocal duties,” explains Grainne. “This took time to solidify the band again until we felt comfortable enough about going into the studio. In hindsight, taking our time meant that we now have something which we are all really happy with – the songs were given a chance to breathe in a live context and we had a surplus of material to choose from. —16 issue 70—

“Musically we have definitely evolved since the first EP which was bass-heavy and cowbelldrenched,” she continues. “The album turned out to have a darker, maybe more melancholic sound than previous releases whilst still maintaining our original aesthetic.” Live performances are always important when promoting a new record and this is another area where Cap Pas Cap have grown stronger, condensed into a tight trio from the looser sets they previously played. “After over a year in the making of the album, I’m keen to get back playing live again. Right now the songs I most enjoy playing live are ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Y Lies’. There are some really great bands coming out of Dublin now. The establishment of independent record labels and promoters like Skinny Wolves and U:Mack, along with alternative spaces to play gigs has made it a more supportive environment to play in. There’s a community now that encourages you to come out and play rather than sitting on those home demos in your bedroom.” Nay McArdle Haunted Light is out now on Skinny Wolves www.cappascap.com

Then again, maybe it isn’t that hard to believe that Nielsen originally intended to be a credible thespian. What made him so funny was his ability to deliver every clunking pun, every dimwitted non sequitur with a rigidly deadpan expression. He was always the straight man, but with the gag-man’s lines. “Yes, it’s true I’ve been called the Laurence Olivier of spoofs,” Nielsen told an interviewer. “I guess that would make Laurence Olivier the Leslie Nielsen of Shakespeare.” After playing scores of handsome alpha males and black-hat-wearing cowboy villains, Nielsen turned his career inside out with Airplane! (1980), a disaster spoof which had the chutzpah to take the script for genuine disaster move Zero Hour! (1957) and play it for laughs. In an inversion of previous roles such as the ill-fated captain in The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Nielsen hammed it up something shocking as the grave-faced doctor treating passengers for a vicious outbreak of food poisoning. The jokeper-minute rate remains unparalleled. Nielsen’s finest hour came with The Naked Gun (1988), a full-length outing for the largely unsuccessful television series Police Squad!. Few films can make you cry with laughter, can actually make you split your sides, but this is one of them. Only a fool would believe that comedy is easy; the combination of slapstick, wordplay and innuendo in The Naked Gun is masterful. After watching it and revelling in its unabashed silliness, it’s difficult to take po-faced nonsense like Diagnosis Murder seriously. Ever modest and gentlemanly, Nielsen dismissed his success. “I never ever thought I could be funny anywhere but offcamera. The second career, for it has been just that, came as a total surprise.” In most recent years he reprised former glories with further parodies whilst frequently appearing onstage in serious theatrical roles. When asked about the enduring appeal of Airplane! and The Naked Gun, Leslie Nielsen simply replied, “because they’re very, very funny.” Nielsen died from pneumonia on November 28. He was 84. Ross Thompson

Perfume Genius / Unknown Pleasures


‘Newcomer of the year’ contender Perfume Genius on his plans for a second album

Niall Byrne digs deep to uncover the freshest new music


Blog Buzz – Blackbird Blackbird California’s Mikey Sanders is a man with a strong work ethos. Every week lately he has been giving away his original, dreamy pop productions as well as turning out outstanding remixes of Warpaint, Deerhunter, Local Natives and even a cover of Modest Mouse’s ‘Float On’. His debut album is called Summer Heart and he has since started a new project with fellow producer Starslinger under the umbrella term Seeing Suge, the output of which is equally worthy of your pleasure. - blackbirdblackbird.bandcamp.com - seeingsuge.bandcamp.com


Sometimes the best things come out of nowhere. Earlier this year, without fanfare and with little forewarning, the Perfume Genius debut album Learning came into our life. It made us cry; it left us with a flicker of hope. It became one of our most loved albums of 2010. When we spoke to its creator Mike Hadreas back in June, he seemed stunned that anyone should be interested in a set of songs he wrote to purge himself of his demons. Recently, we caught up with Mike again in a chilly church in Salford, Greater Manchester. A lot has changed in the last six months. He is a fulltime musician having being gloriously fired from his department store day-job; he has released Learning to the world and recently signed a deal with the mighty US indie label, Matador Records. When we spoke previously, Mike was about to play his third ever gig and was terrified. Since then, he’s taken Perfume Genius on a set of foreign tours – and he is still petrified. “I’m still completely freaked out,” he confesses. “But I’m kind of used to how scared I am.” But there must be some upsides to touring? “Oh, yeah, before this year I’d only been to Mexico with my family once. Seeing different places is incredible; it’s one of the best parts of it so far.” He seems genuinely thrilled by the reaction he has gotten in the UK. “I just think over here in general people are more immediately enthusiastic and warm about it. I think in America the people are more distant and more sceptical right off the bat. Seemingly people here are more excited.”

Learning is a deeply confessional album, used almost as a self-help mechanism for Hadreas to rationalise his teenage years fighting abuse, addiction and alcoholism. Outside his family and a close circle of friends, he assumed that no-one else would hear his simple, but deeply affecting, piano-based hymns. Clearly things are different now; any future releases will be eagerly anticipated by a fan-base which has found solace in his music. Coupled with Matador requiring some ‘product’ to sell, can we expect a follow-up any time soon? “They [Matador] want an album early next year. I do too – I like the idea of that timeline. I have a bunch of new songs and stuff, but it is taking me a while to let go of the expectation of it. I’m second-guessing more.” Hadreas wrote Learning by himself. When playing live he is joined by the classically-trained Alan Wyffels, who Mike says is now “part of Perfume Genius.” With an expectant record label behind him, does he have an idea of how his new stuff may end up sounding? “Not yet,” he admits. “I guess I now have opportunities to hire people and maybe work in a real studio. So, I can do things like that. I’m keeping that in mind a little bit more when I am writing, which I hadn’t done before. But, the new songs have not really gone any farther than what I can do myself.” Hadreas pauses almost for dramatic effect, “But,” he leans in closer to AU, “The new stuff is not gonna lose the intimacy.”

Viral artist – iamamiwhoami The mysterious musical project from Sweden, iamamiwhoami (or Bounty as it may well be ultimately called) has been dropping cryptic videos on Youtube since last December. The big pay-off came in mid-November, however, when the scope of this awesome multimedia project was revealed via a limited live concert stream. The result was an elaborate 60-minute film set in a forest and soundtracked by iamamiwhoami’s ghostly pop songs, featuring costume changes, gothic trees, a funeral pyre and lots of freaky dancing. What was thought to be a fleeting viral thing has turned out to be a slow but impressive reveal of a substantial artist. - bit.ly/iambounty 7” - Museum Of Bellas Artes Staying in Sweden, or Stockholm to be more specific, Museum of Bellas Artes make shimmering, piano-led electro-pop. Continuing a trend that is in resurgence this year, there are Balearic tones and uplifting chords. A seven inch comes out on Transparent, the blog which also brought us early releases from Holy Other, Wise Blood, Perfume Genius and Washed Out. - transparentblog.com/releases 12” – Letherette The influence of the sadly departed hip-hop producer J Dilla is still permeating through the world of electronic instrumentals but perhaps none recall Dilla’s nostalgia and channel his R&B side more than Wolverhampton duo Letherette. Having produced rather brilliant remixes for Dublin’s Solar Bears and Machine Drum and featured on Giles Peterson’s recent Brownswood Electric compilation, they have released an eighttrack, self-titled EP on Ho_Tep records. - myspace.com/letherette

Perish the thought. This boy is learning fast. John Freeman

Blog Buzz – Dominant Legs There’s no denying the new-age hippie-dippy vibe (aka the early Yeasayer effect) of San Francisco residents Ryan William Lynch and Hannah Hunt’s music. Breezy, melancholic, nostalgic, it’s no surprise that Lynch is the guitarist for Frisco peers Girls. A debut EP Young At Love And Life is out now on Lefse Records. - hypem.com/#/artist/dominant+legs

Learning is out on now via Organs/Turnstile.


—17 AU Magazine—

In The Studio: LaFaro

Hot Topic

IN THE STUDIO: LAFARO WHAT: Second album TITLE: TBC ENGINEER: Marty STUDIO: Bangor Tec TRACK TITLE: ‘Full Tilt’ RELEASE DATE: February 2011 LABEL: Smalltown America Records

After spending the second half of the last decade as one of Belfast’s best loved and hardest rocking secrets, LaFaro finally signed to Smalltown America, got their arses in gear and released their self-titled debut album in May. Less than six months on, and after a summer of touring and playing the festivals, the band were back in the saddle for album number two. Just before they left to tour Europe with Helmet (and play Carrickfergus that night, but that’s not nearly so glamorous) AU went to meet them in their studio at the Bangor music college where the four members first met each other – and members of Snow Patrol and Oppenheimer among many other NI indie stars – a decade ago. Words by Chris Jones Photography by Luke Joyce —18 issue 70—

Over what period of time have you been writing the album? Jonny Black (vocals, guitar): We gave ourselves two weeks [off] after touring finished and said, ‘Right, these two months are for the writing’. We booked the recording at that time, although we weren’t quite sure we’d have enough songs in time! [laughs] Herb Magee (bass, vocals): But it turns out we did! Is that a way that you are able to write [in a block, set aside for the purpose]? JB: We don’t know, because the first album was songs from five, five-and-a-half, six years ago. So this one, we couldn’t do that – it all had to be written between February and now. HM: We sat on the last album for about a year. This one, hopefully, we won’t have to. How is it sounding? JB: I think it’s a lot more versatile, a lot cleverer. It is a lot more mature. But having said that, there’s still loads of real hard-assed rock bits in it. Are there any particular songs which you think are important or are key to the record? JB: We’ve had this discussion on more than one occasion and obviously Smalltown [America] are putting it out for us, so there will be singles, and I can’t choose a single. That’s a good thing isn’t it, I suppose? There’s five or six tracks that could be singles. HM: A month ago I was going, ‘I don’t know if any of this is good or not – I can’t tell!’. But I was listening to it back last night and going, ‘That could be a single. That’s definitely a single.

That’s DEFINITELY a single!’ It’s really hard to know. But I’m really happy with it. Would you say therefore it’s quite direct and accessible – it’s not a difficult album? JB: I don’t think it’s a difficult album. We’re not really a difficult band, are we? It’s still pretty angular in places. Composition-wise there’s a few more interesting things in this. Having said that, there’s also a few less interesting things – straight down the line, verse-chorus-verse-chorus pop songs! They are actually pop songs, I don’t mind saying that. I want to sell a million, you know! [laughs]

In The Studio: LaFaro

Hot Topic

Eyes Peeled

LaFaro and labelmates And So I Watch You From Afar are set to unleash two huge albums early in 2010, but what are the albums that the whole world is going to be talking about next year?

Beastie Boys True hip-hop legends, the NYC trio were knocked off course in 2009 when MCA was diagnosed with cancer. However, the longawaited new album Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 (apparently, they’ve swapped the titles, with Part 1 to follow) is due to be released in the Spring. The Strokes January 3 marks the five-year anniversary of the last Strokes album, the less-than-brilliantly received First Impressions Of The Earth. And still no new material. However, in mid-November Julian Casablancas Tweeted: “Still not going to be out for a few months-mixing, etc, but JUST finally finished it yesterday actually!?” So there you go. Hang in there, Strokes fans. Cut Copy So far, the Melbourne indie/house hybridists have released two tracks from their forthcoming third album, which follows 2008’s rapturously received In Ghost Colours. Zonoscope is out on February 8, which seems a little early in the year for the beach-party feel of first single ‘Take Me Over’, but whatevs. Jay-Z and Kanye West Oh yes. Arguably the two biggest – or at least, best – rappers on the planet have of course teamed up before, but the idea of the two men working together on a full release is mouthwatering. In October, Kanye spoke to MTV about the project. “We [already] did five songs, a few of ‘em were out there and then I put ‘em on my album – sorry Jay!” he joked.

Can you give me any song titles? JB: We’ve put out on the Twitter and Facebook about doing a Northern Ireland theme – naming songs after famous Northern Ireland sayings. Like ‘Full Tilt’. ‘Balls Deep’. These sound like Def Leppard song titles! HM: [laughs] ‘Easy Meat’. That style of thing. One of them is definitely called ‘Full Tilt’. JB: ‘Full Force’ would’ve been better, wouldn’t it? Full force in the face. HM: Full force in the scrote. When do think it will be out? JB: We would like to have it out in February [as we went to press, this was revised to March]. Less than a year between albums. HM: Yes. JB: February for a reason, because it was very late in the first half of the year this year which meant that we only had a month to actually tour the fucker before the festivals started. So I would like three months next year to properly promote it. We got really good radio play after it was released – Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens [on BBC Radio 1], and regional radio up in

Scotland, and if we’d had another month or two we probably could have done a bit more in the summer. It must have been strange to hear Zane Lowe getting all enthusiastic about it. HM: Yeah, it was crazy. JB: He was brilliant, the amount of plays he gave us, and not just the plays – he was vocal about it. HM: He doesn’t have to be. What brings you back here to record when so many other people in Belfast go to Start Together or Manor Park or wherever? JB: Marty. HM: Yeah. JB: Just Marty. HM: He’s got a way of working that really suits us – he’s not really a producer, more of an engineer. He just mics up your amp and presses record and if it comes out shit it’s our own fault. And I like that way of working. There’s not much trickery involved in it – what you get is what you actually sound like. The first album sounds pretty big because we turn it up really loud. HM: This one sounds even BIGGER! The drums are so stupidly loud. Marty’s brilliant.

Radiohead By all accounts, recording has just about finished on this one, and Colin Greenwood said in September that the band “have begun to wonder about how to release them in a digital landscape that has changed again.” They’ll have to go some to top the massive impact of In Rainbows’ paywhat-you-like strategy but it will be interesting to follow. Oh, and the music should be pretty good too.

…and one we couldn’t be any less excited about. U2 We can’t even muster up the energy to talk about this one. Sorry chaps.

—19 AU Magazine—




Caribou's Dan Snaith reflects on a phenomenal year

It’s been quite the year for Dan Snaith, the one-man creative force behind Caribou – his latest album Swim was released back in April to widespread acclaim, recently culminating in the prestigious Rough Trade ‘Album of the Year’ accolade. It’s an atmospheric, otherworldly record, where Snaith displays a bold willingness to explore fresh ideas. “Yeah, we’ve been blown away by how well received the record was and it was truly surreal to hear from Rough Trade. It’s funny, we’ve been so busy touring that it hasn’t really sunk in. It’s almost disorientating!” It’s quite a departure from Snaith’s previous work, both in his present guise as Caribou and previous moniker Manitoba. While preceding record Andorra was heavily indebted to retro Sixties pop, Swim was an exercise in bold invention, sparked by Snaith exposing himself to lots of dance music. It’s apparent that the production process was been a liberating experience for him; no longer restricted to writing in standard song format, he’s excited by fresh possibilities. —20 issue 70—

“Today, dance in its myriad forms is the music of urban youth, generally an inventive scene,” says the Canadian. “Things have moved on in leaps since the days of early techno. Nowadays, the possibilities are boundless, electronic technology offers a medium from which broad textures of sound can be created. For example, once the rhythmic base for the track ‘Bowls’ was set, it allowed me flexibility to begin layering the harp and Tibetan bowls. It’s fun, almost like being granted freedom, blending percussive beats to offbeat time signatures.” According to Snaith, one of the record’s chief aims was to create dance music that was closer in theoretical texture to liquid than metal. Coincidentally, just as he began work in the studio, he also began taking swimming lessons. “Yeah, my wife got me classes near our home in London. I really took to it and for a while my routine was largely making music in the studio and then heading to the pool to unwind and swim some lengths. The thought was to construct compositions that had a fluid quality. I wanted to introduce some interesting ideas and merge softened beats with varied instrumentation. Some of the people who’ve inspired me in recent years are young, innovative producers based in London. Kieran Hebden [Four Tet] is a good friend of mine and an incredible artist. I went to see Theo Parrish DJ a while back

and found the way he introduced new ideas with old totally inspirational. Guys like Theo and Carl Craig always bring a freshness and vitality to what they do. When you approach it with an open book policy, interesting stuff can happen!” Aside from being an award-winning musician and producer, Dan has one other considerable talent and one he shares with his father and sister. Snaith is no less than a PhD in Mathematics, having completed his studies in Imperial College, London. “You know, I can’t see myself ever going back into research. Mathematics moves at such a fast rate that I’d be off the pace! The reality is that I enjoy music much more. Maybe I could one day teach at third-level but for now I want to stay on this path. We’re contented, my wife and I, based in London and both pursuing our interests. Sometimes I do miss Toronto, it’s really a great city, but we always get back there pretty often. “For now, I’m simply focused on bringing this album to life on stage. While the record is basically my baby, the live performance is very much an equal collaboration between all four guys. There’s no slacking allowed! We always try to stretch ourselves a little, you need that edge to keep things interesting...” Eamonn Seoige www.caribou.fm

—21 AU Magazine—


Superhumanoids, Gatekeeper, Is Tropical



Is Tropical

Members: Formation: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website:

Members: Aaron David Ross, Matthew Arkell (both production). Formation: Chicago, 2009. For Fans Of: Nitzer Ebb, Antoni Maiovvi, Zombie Zombie. Check Out: Giza EP, out now on Merok. Website: www.myspace.com/iiigatekeeperiii

Members: Formation: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website: 

Cameron Parkins, Sarah Chernoff, Max St John, Evan Weinerman. Los Angeles, USA. The xx, Twin Shadow, Future Islands. Debut EP Urgency out now on Oh! Inverted World. www.superhumanoids.com

Superhumanoids make music to help kiss the doldrums away. That’s the bold palliative claim that this fresh LA four-piece have nailed firmly to their website. Gratifyingly, as their debut EP Urgency demonstrates, it’s perfectly safe to reprint it objectively within these pages. A lovely mellifluous meld of the folksy lilt and the cracked Bontempi beat, their sound might be described as lullaby motorik for the down at heart. “For me, music is the diversion from the monotony of everyday living,” reflects Superhumanoid Cameron. “We aim to have that feeling resonate with others when they hear our recordings or see us live.” The post-punk shimmer pop that drives Superhumanoids’ sound has certainly been diverting external listeners of late on their winter tour of England and Scotland. The austere, ethereal beauty of tracks like ‘Persona’ and ‘Hey Big Bang’ convey the enrapturing aural essence of an unexpected hug from an ice queen, perhaps a surprising direction for a band from the land of sun and sultanas. “My dad is British and I personally feel fairly connected to a lot of the culture,” says Cameron. “The humour, the sarcasm, the love of football, Twiglets. Stuff like that. I’m almost exclusively listening to James Blake and Mount Kimbie right now. Gold Panda too. I’m hoping I can get introduced to some new bands while we’re over here as I’m sure we just get the tip of the iceberg.” Which is exactly, one hopes, what we’re getting with this effortless debut from LA’s synthetically coolest band. Joe Nawaz —22 issue 70—

Not to be confused with the London dubstep outfit (or the many rappers) of the same name, this Gatekeeper is a twentysomething American duo fixated on John Carpenter movies, retro synthesisers and arpeggiated basslines. Their latest EP, Giza, is a deliciously murky wallow in old school techno beats and spooked-out effects, moving them away from the Italo discodominated debut EP Optimus Maximus. Aaron David Ross and Matthew Arkell met in Chicago as art students and started experimenting with different sounds, eventually coming across a MIDI cover of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 theme and committing themselves to what they term as “dark-new ageindustrial” music. Giza is an encapsulation of that goal, from its tongue-in-cheek artwork to ominous track titles like ‘Storm Column’, ‘Serpent’ and ‘Oracle’. “The sci-fi and horror themes are very intentional,” says Ross, “and while we are likely fans of the films, we are definitely fans of the soundtracks. John Carpenter was responsible for the genesis of our project and has remained a strong inspiration, both musically and visually. The fictional worlds created by good sci-fi and horror storytelling are particularly inspiring, we attempt to similarly create fictional worlds within our music.” Given that it’s perfect for barrelling along a deserted motorway in the dead of night while entertaining fantasies of escaping from zombies and ghouls, they appear to have done just that. Chris Jones

Gary Barber (guitar, bass, vocals, keys, mask), Simon Milner (guitar, bass, vocals, keys, mask), Dom Ara (drums, skull mask). London, 2009. Klaxons, Foals, Egyptian Hip Hop. Single 'South Pacific', out now on Kitsuné. www.istropical.com

Is Tropical are not, in fact, tropical. The three-piece emerged from the unlikely musical hotbed of the London squatter scene, blinking as they flitted into the light, and began to take things seriously as an alternative to gainful employment. The name comes from a combination of Liverpudlian English and the need to imagine warmth where it’s absent. Fortunately, living in an electricity-free home seems to have done little to hold this distinctly power-heavy group back. Is Tropical have recently put pen to paper with Kitsuné, one of the ‘buzz’ labels of current times, an event they describe as “like the cool kids tapping you on the shoulder and telling you they think you’re alright”. Musically, the group blend rock and electronica into a feisty brand of slightly dark-tinged pop. The three of them swap instruments, change focus frequently between riffs and bleeps, and use their lyrics sparingly to explore anything from a love of Tom Waits’ poetic lyrics to a sidelong glance at war from an odd angle. Tracks like ‘When O When’ combine a latent angst with a hefty bass line and a compulsive need to jump. They might be fusing well-established genres, but Is Tropical do so in a touchingly carefree, playful way. Touring with Mystery Jets, we catch them backstage with some random ladies (‘not groupies’) they’ve dragged around a couple of dates, and the lads are the ones trying the pregnancy tests. Is Tropical averaged a show every two days in 2010, and they’re not even close to calming down. Expect mayhem. James Hendicott



DELS Real Name: From: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website:

Kieren Dickens Ipswich Roots Manuva, Hot Chip, Jyager. Trumpalump EP, out now on Big Dada. www.myspace.com/imdels

If you’ll forgive the generalisation, there’s a fair bit of macho posturing in hip-hop. There’s the guns ‘n’ hos nonsense of mainstream gangsta rap, of course, while even so-called credible MCs aren’t adverse to completely losing the plot (Kanye West getting his bottom teeth replaced with diamonds, anyone?). All of which means that DELS – Kieren Dickens to his mum – is a breath of fresh air. There are not many MCs, for example, who profess an ambition to be a university academic. But, as the polite, wellspoken Dickens tells AU, that’s exactly the plan. “My dream is to be a lecturer,” he says. “I want to go to the Royal College of Art and study, get my Masters and then be a lecturer, just because I find young people who have new ideas so inspiring. They’re naïve and everything’s fresh and they’re seeing things for the first time, and I want to be around that and I want to nurture new talent.” If that’s an unusual aim for a hotly-tipped young musician, it’s in keeping with a grounded young man who admits he put music on the backburner for a few years while he got his degree in graphic design. Fittingly for someone with his background in art, the visual representation of his music is important to DELS, with the result that the videos for his two singles so far – ‘Shapeshift’ and ‘Trumpalump’ – are two of the most arresting and inventive promo clips you’re likely to see. Of course, this would mean absolutely zip if the music wasn’t up to scratch. Fortunate, then that the one-two punch of ‘Shapeshift’ and ‘Trumpalump’ constitutes an astonishingly

accomplished and exciting opening salvo. The two singles – produced with Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard – are almost absurdly enjoyable. Squelching synths and crunching beats underpin DELS’ rapidfire flow and playful lyrics that take in Del Boy, bakewells and wrestler Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. Consequently, DELS finds himself the hottest property in UK hip-hop. If the mild-mannered, though quietly self-assured, Dickens feels any pressure, it doesn’t show – although he does admit to some nervous excitement regarding his upcoming debut album. “I can’t wait for the album to come out, but I’m very nervous about it, because I don’t know what people’s expectations are,” he says. “I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, you’re gonna be bigger than Dizzee Rascal’ and I don’t know if it’s going to be like that. I don’t know how people are going to take it, because there are some really weird sounds on there! I don’t know if I should say this, my label will probably kill me, but I don’t know if it’s made for the mainstream. But we’ll see when it’s all done and finished.” Those ‘weird sounds’ come from a roll call of producers that includes Roots Manuva and Micachu. But it’s the aforementioned Goddard who is Dickens’s main collaborator. “He found me on MySpace – I sent him a message saying I really liked the Hot Chip album The Warning and he replied saying, ‘I really like your music, do you want to make a track?’. So we made a track called ‘Lazy’ that we released on Moshi Moshi Records, and after that we decided that we should try and make more music. And the DELS album was supposed to be a joint Joe Goddard/ DELS project. At the time we were trying to think of a name we could call it, but we couldn’t think of anything good and Joe just said, ‘Well, just call it DELS’, and I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s good for me’!” Talented, imaginative and well-connected – if DELS’ career continues on this upward trajectory, he may have to keep that lecturing job on hold for a while yet. Neill Dougan —23 AU Magazine—


Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

The former punk and current Kanye West fan is creating something of a stir as a result. Exciting times for – as the suspiciously windswept PR blurb reads – “the troubled son of a hairdresser and a teacher who lived many lives.”

Real Name: George Lewis Jr. Based: New York, USA. For Fans Of: Owen Pallett, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Class Actress. Check Out: Debut album Forget, out now on 4AD. Website: www.twinshadow.net George Lewis Jr is trying to find a quiet enclave on the streets of rain-swept Islington where we can be alone together. Or at least somewhere we can conduct a telephone interview quietly. It’s proving difficult. Every time he sits down in a café or a launderette or bus shelter, the surrounding din inevitably intervenes and AU’s strategically honed line of enquiry is reduced to a tired sequence of Dom Joly-style shouting and apologising.

“I think that kind of line captures a little of the essence of the album”, George explains with a disarming earnestness, when he eventually finds a quiet corner to converse. “The publicity is important – I want to reach people’s minds to prepare them for this record. We forget that it’s a big thing to have someone give up their time to listen to your music.” He may be keenly attuned to the import of printing the myth, but he’s also a thoughtful and gracious fellow who admits to despising irony in music. “Where do you go after you’ve derided something?” he ponders. “What’s left to talk about?”

The frustration is exacerbated by the fact that George, aka Twin Shadow, has rather a lot to talk about. The Floridian-cum-New Yorker is in the UK for a number of shows to mark the release of his debut long player Forget on the 4AD label.

And it doesn’t take much sugar-coated persuasion to find the Twin Shadow debut a swoonsome gem of a collection. Forget is as lovelorn and epic as a half-remembered teenage disco from the Eighties – a good thing. Another legend from the Twin Shadow back story tells how back in Spring of this year, he fell in

love with 4AD (specifically This Mortal Coil’s 'Song To The Siren') when watching Lost Highway with a beautiful Swedish girl. The story concludes with a young George declaring wistfully that his new record belongs in the 4AD family. Beware the Ides of March, and all that. “That’s true.” he laughs. “I was just talking to that same girl earlier today actually. 4AD are perfect for me. Just look at their output over the past 30 years.” Not only is Twin Shadow with one of the one of the most illustrious labels in recent decades (Cocteau Twins, the Pixies, The National), but George has also allowed his music to be ‘discovered’ by Grizzly Bear polymath Chris Taylor, who ended up co-producing the record. “That’s a strange one. I approached Chris after hearing the Grizzly Bear record [Veckatimest] over Christmas. It seemed broader in scope and ambition than the usual lo-fi hipster stuff. I didn’t want to be part of any movement and it was a great creative experience to work with Chris.” It’s this combination of self-effacement and almighty chutzpah that has driven the Twin Shadow vehicle to the very edges of success in a very short space of time – and it’s just the beginning. “I dream of the car and the house and the rest of it. This idea of somehow suffering for art is so pretentious. I think there’s enough suffering in people’s real lives which they can’t help. I want to make pop music that is listened to universally and not just by the kids in New York. I absolutely admire people like The-Dream and Kanye West – their attitude and ambition is amazing. “I was also listening to a lot of Roy Orbison, John Lennon and Bowie’s Low album during Forget. Even Roy Orbison’s rubbish songs have a sense of drama and style. You want to learn songcraft? Look to Roy.” Joe Nawaz

—24 issue 70—


Dreamend, Talons, Meljoann

Dreamend Real Name: Formation: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website:

Ryan Graveface Chicago, 2005. Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Appleseed Cast, Tom Waits. So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite, out now on Memphis Industries. www.myspace.com/dreamend

When Ryan Graveface isn’t single-handedly running obscure Chicago label Graveface Records, or creating weirdly seductive electronic beats with Black Moth Super Rainbow, he’s making his own noise with his own band, Dreamend. A debut album, the fantastically-titled So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite, is a grizzly mix of Deliverance-style folk and hellish pop. The album’s subplot narrates a descent from violent fantasies into murder and carnage. Fun, eh? But Ryan is a chirpy guy. “My last record was about a suicide in the family,” he tells AU. “For this album, I went to a black market auction in the middle of nowhere and bought some journals from a locally famous serial killer. It seemed like the perfect angle for a record as I’m quite obsessed with morbid things.” Rather naively, AU asks why these songs couldn’t have formed part of a new Black Moth Super Rainbow record. “Cos, BMSR is currently dead so that’s mainly why. Plus this new Dreamend record is pretty folky and most BMSR fans want something that they can move their body to – not feel bummed-out to.” A number of tracks were mixed by producer John Congleton (who is also the main man in AU favourites The Paper Chase) as well as Chris Crisci from Graveface label-mates The Appleseed Cast. Ryan is delighted to have worked with Congleton in particular. “He is ridiculously talented. He can polish a turd like no other, quite frankly. He also has confidence in certain aspects of my writing that I think are weak. Two records from now I’m going to record with him.” You’ve been warned. John Freeman



Members: Oliver Steels (guitar), Reuben Brunt (violins), Sam Little (violins), Chris Hicks (bass), Alex MacDougall (drums), Sam Jarvis (guitars). Formation: Hereford, 2008. For Fans Of: Adebisi Shank, Lite, Mogwai, ASIWYFA. Check Out: Debut album Hollow Realm, out now on Big Scary Monsters Website: www.myspace.com/gotalons

Real Name: Based: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website:

“It’s amazing that people are into what we do, it is definitely surprising at times!” enthuses Oliver Steels on the reception Talons have had from press and gig-goers. It should come as no surprise, as their debut album is set to catapult them skyward, a whirling odyssey through heart-lifting strings, monolithic post-rock, locomotive hardcore and edgy math. From the quiet of Hereford, Talons emerged with single ‘The Pearl’, and splits with ASIWYFA and Noumenon, all rapidly selling out. Hollow Realm looks to be their breakthrough, showcasing their sonic patchwork. “We recorded the album in 10 days, putting in at least 12 hours a day,” says Steels. “The overall experience was intense, we had a great time though.” As well as the debut, the band already have several high-profile supports under their belt, including joining This Will Destroy You on their UK dates (“amazing”). “Recording the album was a milestone, to produce something we are all so proud of is great,” says Steels. With full-scale touring and Europe in their sights, 2011 is set to be the year of Talons. Mike McGrath-Bryan

Meljoann Ryan Dublin Eero Johannes, Portishead, TLC. Squick, out now on Boy Scout Audio. www.meljoann.com

Far from a newcomer, 29-year-old Meljoann’s first musical memories are of her mother playing classical guitar. She, too, became skilled in a range of instruments including flute and bass, before getting serious about music as a teenager. Heavily involved in Dublin’s underground electronic scene, she has spent the last three years refining her songs, releasing the Tour Guide EP in 2008. However 2010 has seen the dust settle, clearing the air for the arrival of her debut album Squick. It’s a stand-out album, funky with breathy R’n’B vocals set to the fresh style of synthy, bass-driven ‘skweee’ – a microgenre that originated in Sweden and Finland. “The only aim I have is to really integrate my musical listening experience into my own inner musical voice. That way, I don’t end up with self-conscious ‘eclecticism’ or fusion,” she says. “Squick was about finding joy and comfort in the sounds and structure.” At ease amongst complicated gadgets and gear, Meljoann is also one-half of Gland & Conduit with noise maestro Herv. “I love working with Herv, he’s an extremely talented producer, and all-round legend. At the moment we’re trying to set aside time to work on our second album. The first one should be released soon, it’s called Ore. I like to do non-vocal electronic music – you can express different sorts of ideas with that.” Nay McArdle

—25 AU Magazine—


Hey You!

Words & Pics by Ryan Hughes

Seamus O’Hare Rise Against – Injections Sex Pistols – Liar The All American Rejects – Night Drive Interesting fact: Seamus can play six instruments above grade four. Now that is impressive!

Rebecca Connolly Nickelback – This Afternoon Lady GaGa – Bad Romance You Me At Six – Save It For The Bedroom Interesting fact: Rebecca has had her tongue pierced not once but twice. Ouch!

Scott Lowry Hudson Mohawke – Joy Fantastic Bag Raiders – Castles In The Air Roxy Music – Virginia Plain Interesting fact: Scott can tell lies in 14 different languages. WAIT! Dammit, we’ve been had…

Nile ward Mike Posner – Cooler Than Me Metro Station – California Go Audio – Wood Chuck Interesting fact: Nile likes maths. Yep, maths.

Rachael Adamson Ellie Goulding – Your Song Semi-Precious Weapons – Jesus Florence And The Machine – My Boy Builds Coffins Interesting fact: Rachael hates butterflies, and who could blame her? After all, they are just moths in fancy clothes. Pah.

Demi Simpson Boyce Avenue – Drops Of Jupiter 30H!3 – Don't Trust The Eagles – Hotel California Interesting fact: Demi dislikes birds. The feathered kind. We think.

Sarah Plunket The Cure – Lullaby Vitalic – Polkamatic PixIes – Where Is My Mind? Interesting fact: Sarah said she has two entirely different thumbs. We replied, ‘Eh?’. Then she broke them out and WOW, they really are two entirely different looking thumbs.

Julie Dorrian Olly Murs – Thinking Of Me JLS – Love You More Cheryl Cole – Promise This Interesting fact: Julie is obsessed with Olly Murs and is absolutely stoked that he has tweeted her 17 times. Good for you, dear.

Scott McKendry Captain Beefheart – Abasolo Pulp – Trees Elvis Costello – Blame it on cane Interesting fact: Scott claimed to have a fear of 'smickers' (more commonly known as 'spides'). Tbf, we'd punch him for having that hair as well.

Ben Harris Doctor Feelgood - Milk And Alcohol The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter Brian Jonestown Massacre – Swallowtail Interesting fact: We checked, and yes, Ben does indeed do a mighty mean Mick Jagger.

Adam Right Metallica – Nothing Else Matters Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can Work Bloc Party – I Still Remember Interesting fact: Adam eats a lot of Rennies due to an inordinate amount of indigestion. Mmm, chalky!

What's on your iPod? •

—26 issue 70—




Mike Watt. In true democratic fashion, the guitar handled all the treble frequencies, whilst the bass handled all the low end, and never the twain shall meet. Songwriting was split between the three men, a melting pot of contrasting political ideologies, surrealism, humour, and Joycean stream of consciousness. The punks, naturally, were perplexed. The Minutemen (named for the political connotations of the word, rather than the brevity of their songs) were never content to settle for the easy option of following the supposed ‘template’ of punk rock, instead preferring to pursue the artistic freedoms they perceived it to offer. For them, punk rock represented a blank slate, a chance to start over again and make up a new way of doing things. In the American indie underground, The Minutemen were the personification of DIY, happily standing alongside contemporaries such as Black Flag and Sonic Youth. When D. Boon was killed in a road accident in 1985, not only did it mark the end of this thrilling creative journey, it marked the end of his friendship with Mike Watt, the creative force at the heart of the band. Without wishing to detract from Hurley’s contribution to the band (which was significant), Watt and Boon’s personalities shone through every single note of music they made. The two sang songs about each other, to each other, for each other. Their personalities are captured and reflected in those songs, the men’s friendship providing the framework through which they explored the concept of punk rock and the world that surrounded them.


25 Years Ago

I Live Sweat, But I Dream Light Years

The death of D. Boon from the Minutemen, December 22, 1985 Words by: Steven Rainey

D. Boon is dying. As his body lies on a road in the Arizona desert, what must have been going through his head? Was he thinking about how punk rock had changed his life? Was he wondering what the legacy of the Minutemen, the band he founded in San Pedro in 1980, would be? Was he thinking about the lives of people not yet born, or how he’d been snatched away too soon? Or was he thinking about a friend he’d never see again, a friend with whom he helped to kick-start a musical and cultural revolution? D. Boon dies of a broken neck, and Mike Watt is left behind, and we will never know the answers. In no uncertain terms, the Minutemen are one of the most important bands of the 20th century. They weren’t the first American punk rock band,

and they had little commercial impact either during or after the brief period they were active. But somewhere along the line, this trio of people from an unassuming city in California came to define and embody the promise and spirit of what punk could be, full of wild creative abandon and possibility. Over the course of five studio albums, a handful of EPs, and a few other scattered releases, the Minutemen documented their evolution as one of the most consistently challenging and progressive punk bands the world has ever seen. In their hands, the word ‘punk’ translated as ‘freedom’, with D. Boon’s scratchy, funk-influenced guitar melding to the insanely hyperactive drumming of George Hurley and the rubbery basslines of

With Boon’s death, Watt retreated from music scene, facing an uncertain future. Doubting both himself and his creative direction, he found himself in New York at the behest of longtime admirers Sonic Youth, playing bass on both 1986’s Evol and the subsequent Ciccone Youth album. Shortly afterwards, a man named Ed Crawford drove from Ohio to San Pedro with the sole aim of convincing Watt to get back to making music. fIREHOSE was born, consisting of Crawford and the rhythm section of Watt and Hurley, releasing several classic albums in the late Eighties and early Nineties. But his childhood friendship with D. Boon continues to affect him to this day. In the 2005 documentary We Jam Econo, Watt’s emotions are still running very close to the surface as he talks about Boon. Having assumed by default the role of punk elder statesman, Watt embodies the moral and spiritual consciousness of punk rock, a barometer of ‘doing it the right way’. 25 years after D. Boon’s death, his importance is still beyond doubt. He and his fellow Minutemen provided the keys to the door for so many people. For an art form once denigrated as juvenile and unimportant, Boon’s words still ring true: “This is Bob Dylan to me, my story could be his songs.” —27 AU Magazine—

History Lessons

The Wedding Present Words by John Freeman

—28 issue 70—


History Lessons - The Wedding Present

“The Wedding Present were almost the archetypal Peel band. He was a very powerful figure in the world of music for new bands. In some ways he was probably too powerful. But he obviously liked us" “It took six hours before you let me down / To see it all in a drunken kiss / A stranger’s hand on my favourite dress.” These three lines from the Wedding Present’s 1987 song ‘My Favourite Dress’ perfectly map out the tragedy of betrayal and jealousy – and are typical of the raw, emotive power behind Leeds’ finest guitar heroes. AU chats to head honcho David Gedge about 25 years of love and loss in one of John Peel’s favourite bands. Along with The Fall, very few artists are as closely associated with John Peel as The Wedding Present. Before Peel’s death in 2004, over 45 tracks by the band featured in his annual ‘Festive 50’, spanning 17 years of a career that shows no sign of slowing down. Peel had a huge affection for The Wedding Present and the feeling was mutual. “We had absorbed everything he liked, and almost regurgitated it,” Gedge tells AU in his soft Yorkshire burr. “So, The Wedding Present were almost the archetypal Peel band. He was a very powerful figure in the world of music for new bands. In some ways he was probably too powerful because as he did have a bit of a ‘make or break’ thing for a band. But he obviously liked us and that’s why we ended up in his ‘Festive 50’ so many times.” Formed in Gedge’s native Leeds in 1985, The Wedding Present quickly rose to the forefront of the C86 wave of guitar bands. Their music was notable for two defining characteristics; jagged, frenetic three-minute blasts of crunching guitar, and a narrative lyrical style that was painfully honest about the pitfalls of relationships. While Gedge was always the central figure of the band, both these facets were heavily informed by other people. “We thought it was important to have an identifiable sound, but the real catalyst was when Shaun Charman joined as a drummer. He was a big champion of speed and playing songs as fast as you can. It suddenly became a bit more energetic and more exciting; a bit more frantic.” Lyrically, Gedge had started out sounding “poetic and metaphorical – like Echo And The Bunnymen” but some good, honest feedback helped him evolve. “One of my girlfriends at the time when we started was looking at the lyrics and said, ‘I don’t understand what you are saying here – it doesn’t actually mean anything’. I thought about and realized she was absolutely right. Around that time I started to listen to The Velvet Underground a lot, and was very taken with Lou

Reed’s style of lyric writing. It did seem very conversational and lacking in imagery. I thought, ‘That’s the way I should go’. It works for me as a writer and it is a very direct style. I wanted to take it to the next level, to almost be like a conversation with somebody.” Gedge became famous for his downtrodden worldview. Songs like the exasperated ‘Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?’ or the bitchy put-down of ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’ would perfectly articulate the drama of love. Sometimes, the lyrics were very real. Was there really an ex-girlfriend out with a new beau in Gedge’s favourite dress of hers? “Totally. Of all the songs I’ve done, that’s one of the most personal to me. It’s completely out of my diary.” AU wonders whether said woman has still got that dress. Fuelled by Peel’s patronage, the band released their debut album George Best in 1987. With a cover incorporating an iconic image of the legendary footballer, the album was an immediate success, and bagged the band the tag of ‘indie darlings’. It also ensured a meeting with the great man. “The record company had an idea that we should do a photo session with him,” Gedge recalls. “He was a bit bemused; he’d never heard of us – we were just a bunch of lads down from Leeds. He didn’t ask anything about us, we just talked about football and fishing, to be honest. I say talking, but most of us were stood there awestruck.” Shortly after, The Wedding Present ‘sold out’ and signed to the major label RCA, refining their sound on perhaps their best album, 1989’s Bizarro. The record contains their most famous song ‘Kennedy’, which includes the unforgettable couplet “Lost your love of life? / Too much apple pie.” However, rather than a reference to over-eating, Gedge’s lyric was, for once, a little more abstract. “It’s about conspiracy theories surrounding the death of President Kennedy. I did some research and found out that one of the methods the CIA used to get rid of people was this agent which induced a heart attack, but smelled like apples. They would inject it into apple pie. It may be all rubbish, but it sounded exciting to me.” After re-recording the Bizarro track ‘Brassneck’ with maverick engineer Steve Albini, the band decided to record their third album – the excellent Seamonsters – with him at the helm. “He had a reputation for being outspoken and belligerent but I’d just heard Surfer Rosa by the Pixies, which to me is one the best recorded albums ever; it sounds so perfect in every way. After the first two albums, we felt it was time for something new, and Albini did bring us on and created a new sound, harder for us.” It’s a relationship which has endured for

two decades – the band’s 2008 album El Rey was again engineered by Albini. The Wedding Present were never afraid to defy convention, either artistically (releasing a Ukrainian folk album at the peak of their popularity) or commercially. In 1992 the band released a single every month for a year and became only the second artist after Elvis Presley to score twelve Top 40 hits in one calendar year. Record collecting geeks had come out in force, as Gedge remembers. “When we did the twelfth single, someone from RCA found out about the record, as Elvis Presley was on RCA as well. It was a foregone conclusion – we limited it to 15,000 copies, and people wanted full set by that point. We had stories of people waiting outside the record shop on a Monday morning at nine o’clock.” During the early Nineties the band used different styles, exploring lo-fi pop and psychedelia on 1994’s Watusi, before – after a sabbatical of several years – returning to the indie jangle on 2005’s Take Fountain. Gedge is the only surviving member of the original line-up. Over the last 25 years, the band has undergone many personnel changes, but Gedge has remained omnipresent – The Wedding Present is his band. “It has been me at the core and a revolving door policy,” he agrees. “But, when people have joined the group, I’ve been really grateful that they’ve brought something to the table. The group would not have evolved, or reached the artistic levels we have, without their help.” A couple of years ago the band toured to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the George Best album, and they recently repeated the concept to commemorate Bizarro. “When the idea of doing the George Best tour was mentioned to me, I wasn’t really in favour of it. But when we did it, we really enjoyed it. It’s quite surreal going back and learning what you’ve forgotten,” Gedge reveals. But why do it again with Bizarro? “Because it is a better LP!” With him happily reminiscing, AU asks David Gedge for his favourite Wedding Present moment. It’s a daft question, asking him to choose from a quarter of a century of memories. But, the delightful interviewee that he is, he has a long think before replying. “Er, going to America for the first time, playing Japan, playing Top Of The Pops, but maybe the best was being such a big part of the John Peel show. Getting to hear your record played on his show; that was special.” www.myspace.com/theweddingpresent —29 AU Magazine—



Reggae legend Peter Tosh was fond of railing against what he called ‘Politricks’, and it’s true that in an age of dodgy intelligence dossiers, expenses scandals and gross economic mismanagement it’s easy to be cynical about the motives of those who govern us. The fact is, though, that politicians genuinely have the best interests of the populace at heart, are in no way out to line their own pockets and, at this difficult time more than ever, we should put our trust in them unquestioningly. Right? Am I right, guys? Anyone...? Words by Neill Dougan Illustration by Mark Reihill

—30 issue 70—


A to Z - Politics

A is for

dictators of the early-to-mid 20th century, today the term ‘fascist’ is largely meaningless, although it remains a handy insult to throw at anyone who disagrees with you.


AU once read some amusing graffiti in a toilet cubicle in Whelan’s pub in Dublin. Someone had scrawled “Anarchy is just middle-class wankers” on the wall, underneath which another (clearly better informed) commentator had replied: “No, you are quite incorrect. Anarchy is the absence of government.” That’s telling him.

B is for

Brown, Black And Blue Shirts

Hitler’s crack SA unit (aka stormtroopers) were decked out in brown shirts. Mussolini’s CCNN paramilitaries wore black. And the quasi-fascist Irish Blueshirts favoured, er, blue. Say what you like about these right-wing nutjobs, but they certainly knew their fashion.

C is for


Nepotism. Embezzlement. Bribery. The alert citizen must be constantly vigilant in order to ensure their public representatives aren’t on the fiddle. The ‘Cashfor-Questions’ episode and the furore over MPs’ expenses are just two of the scandals to have dogged British politicians in recent years. Meanwhile in Ireland, the reigns of Haughey and Ahern as Taoisigh serve to remind constituents what these shameless chancers will get up to given the opportunity. The Eighties are back!

D is for


G is for


From its beginnings in the 1970s as a widely-derided fringe movement of eco-warriors, Green politics has gained mainstream acceptability and Green parties now sit in many Western parliaments seeking to push their pro-environment agenda. Except in Ireland where, as junior coalition government partners, they basically just do whatever Fianna Fáil tells them to [ooh, get her! –Ed.].

H is for

House Of Lords

Some people might opine that a second house of parliament – consisting of entirely unelected Lords who can delay or even block legislation drafted by elected MPs – is a tad undemocratic. Lucky, then, that in practice it’s an ineffective talking shop that has all the dynamism and vigour of a bingo night at the community centre.

I is for


From the Senators of Rome knifing Caesar in the back, to Ed Miliband shafting his own brother in order to assume leadership of the Labour Party, political intrigue is as old as politics itself. These people are sharks. So next time you see your local representative grinning for the cameras as he opens a new branch of Asda, just remember that he would quite literally kill your granny if it meant a step up the ladder for him. Bunch of granny-killing bastards.

F is for


Nasty ideology promoting authoritarianism and radical nationalism. Popular among European


A kleptocracy (literally, ‘rule by thieves’) comes about when the personal wealth and power of a select elite – say, for example, bankers and property developers – is extended at the expense of the populace at large. The recent history of the Republic of Ireland is but one fine example of this noble political tradition.

L is for


After almost two decades in the political wilderness, the British Labour Party swept into power under their dashing young leader Tony Blair in 1997 and stayed there for 13 years – and all they had to do was put the word ‘New’ in front of their name. Oh, and abandon all their principles.

M is for


Beardy German Karl Marx and his buddy Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto in 1848, setting out their theory of class struggle and revolution to bring about an egalitarian society. These ideas were put into practice by Lenin and his Bolshevik chums in Russia in 1917 – a spectacularly successful gambit, as shown by modern day Russia which is a veritable utopia. Er...

N is for


O is for

E is for

Interesting fact: Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern once called to the door of AU’s Dublin home, canvassing for votes in time-honoured fashion. Sadly, it was a Saturday and your correspondent – still in his pyjamas at 11am – was too embarrassed to answer the door. But rest assured if we’d have been dressed we’d have given him a right piece of our mind.

K is for

So-called NIMBY – ‘Not In My Back Yard’ – groups can be guaranteed to protest against the construction of a runway/power plant/methadone clinic near their homes. Can be distinguished from those who genuinely care about society by the fact that if it’s not happening near them, they’re not particularly interested. Most people, in other words.

Until recently, it was generally thought that the Irish and British didn't really “do” large-scale civil disobedience. The continuing economic apocalypse has changed all that, with student protests in London and a 100,000-strong march in Dublin both decrying the massive cock-ups the UK and Irish governments have made of things. Proper order too. Let's tear this place apaaaaart!


deliberately by those in power to keep us everyday schmoes in the dark as to what’s really going on. Surely not!

I J is for


Stalking Horse. Chief Whip. Gerrymandering. Filibustering. Few people actually know what any of these terms mean, and fewer still care. A cynical soul might suggest that these obscure phrases are used

George Orwell

Prescient novelist and author of classic political satires Animal Farm and 1984, Orwell had a reputation for rigorous intellectual thought. Despite this, he once accidentally ate the cat’s dinner instead of his own (note: this is a true story), which just goes to show that no-one’s perfect.

P is for


Having principles can be a serious drawback if you fancy a career in politics. Make sure yours are seriously bendy if you want to get ahead. Or – even better – abandon them altogether! (See ‘L is for Labour’) —31 AU Magazine—

Q is for

U is for

The ‘Quango’ – or Quasi-Autonomous NonGovernmental Organisation, to give it its glorious unabbreviated title – is a non-state body performing state functions. God, that was a boring sentence to have to write. Imagine working for one.

Once people get elected, they become very polite all of a sudden. Most national parliaments have a list of terms that it is considered very poor form


Unparliamentary Language

R is for

Revolution Some revolutions are violent and bloody, like the French and Russian revolutions. Others are peaceful, like the so-called ‘Bloodless Revolution’ in England in 1688. While these non-violent regime changes are obviously better from the point of view of, erm, loads of people not dying, they’re also quite dull. Give us the gore any day.

contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.” Someone should surely have thought to mention this to former US President George W Bush. Possibly some time around March 2003...

X is for

The ‘X’ On Your Ballot Paper

Once every four years or so, the hoi polloi are granted the privilege of choosing which bunch of crooked, useless gits they want lording it over them till the next time. Hooray for democracy!

Y is for

Youth Movements

Crafty politicos have long sought to hitch their wagon to the youth of the day, and every party worth the name will have a youth wing. Most infamously, a certain German dictator created the Hitler Youth movement to school the children and young adults of the Third Reich in the ways of National Socialism. Kind of like the Scouts, but with less knot-tying and camping and more gouging and killing.

S S is for

Student Politics So you’re a full-time student. Away from home for the first time. You have four years of blissful freedom before you’re forced to get your nose to the grindstone for the majority of the rest of your days. For God’s sake don’t waste this precious time handing out copies of The Socialist Worker and decrying the evils of global capitalism in heated college debates. Waste it in the pub.

T is for

Tea Party

Though their name suggests a merry troupe of picnickers skipping gaily through the meadows, the Tea Party is in fact a coterie of ludicrously right-wing nutters in the States who believe Barack Obama is a communist and who count Fox News maniac Glenn Beck and moronic Alaskan bear killer Sarah Palin amongst their number. Scarier still, apparently many of these people don’t even like tea at all.

Z is for

Zeitgeist to use. In the UK, an MP would face censure for calling a colleague a git, liar, rat, swine, stoolpigeon, tart or traitor. In Ireland, meanwhile, a TD should avoid using terms like scumbag, guttersnipe, chancer, fatty or yahoo. Of course none of these can touch the efforts of Green Party TD Paul Gogarty, who caused uproar in the Dáil in December 2009 by bellowing “Fuck you” at an opponent. Well, it certainly made that week’s edition of Oireachtas Report more watchable.

V is for


Politics is full of petty disputes, simmering animosities and vicious feuds. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, for example, famously despised each other, while former Tory Prime Minister John Major was notoriously caught out calling three members of his own cabinet ‘bastards’. To be fair to Major, this description was nothing if not entirely accurate.

W is for


T —32 issue 70—

Attempts by politicians to boost their popularity by seizing the elusive ‘zeitgeist’ invariably end up being entirely cringe-worthy. Think Tony Blair conspicuously shaking hands with Noel Gallagher in 1997, or Gordon Brown professing to be a fan of Arctic Monkeys. Yeah right Gordon. What next, David Cameron proclaiming his love of dubstep?

According to 19th century Prussian military strategist Carl Von Clausewitz, war is the continuation of politics by other means. The wily Von Clausewitz also believed military intelligence to be highly over-rated, stating “Many intelligence reports in war are



9 7 B O T A N I C A V E , B E L F A S T, 0 2 8 9 0 2 3 1 4 2 8


ShelfRespect Yourrs’ Guide The AU Buye

neil gaiman

The first book Neil Gaiman ever published was a biography of Duran Duran in 1984. After that, the innovative author moved on to bigger and better things and spent most of the Eighties writing graphic novels – most notably the renowned Sandman series. It was through a collaboration with Terry Pratchett that Gaiman started writing novels. Since then his work, although technically deemed fantasy fiction, has appealed to a far wider audience than that due to his depictions of real people plunged into abnormal, fantastical places and books that are terrifying and magical in equal measure. Words by Deirdre O'Brien Illustration by Shauna McGowan

—34 issue 70—

good omens: the nice and accurate prophecies of agnes nutter, witch


Gaiman’s first novel, which in many ways gave a perfect taster of his work to come, was his collaboration with fantasy fiction legend Terry Pratchett. The combination of both of these wild imaginations was a match made in fiction heaven and, along with an impressive storyline, the humour in this book is unmatchable. Containing a balance of Gaiman’s fondness of the gods, and Pratchett’s already well-known penchant for witches and other strange creatures, Good Omens was named in BBC’s Big Read as one of the top 100 books of all time.

In many of his novels, including Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book and Stardust, Gaiman picks very ordinary characters, Richard Mayhew in this instance, and plunges them – mostly against their will and better judgement – into extraordinary worlds. In Neverwhere, the protagonist is leading a stable, settled life in London when he stumbles across an injured girl on the pavement and helps her. This one act changes everything. Shortly after, he finds that he has ceased to exist in “London Overground” and the only people who he can communicate with are the people of “London Underground’, i.e. Neverwhere, like the girl Door whom he saved.


The story follows a rather intricate series of characters that are all linked to a prophesised apocalypse. The representatives of God and Satan on earth, the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, have spent so much time on earth that they have become friends and quite enjoy living there. When news comes that, as the witch Agnes Nutter prophesised, the antiChrist has been born on earth, they decide to club together to keep an eye on this boy – who is unaware of his fate – joined by a large number of strange beings including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Neverwhere places normal London above a seedy and mysterious underworld which has angels, people who communicate with rats and ‘openers’ like Door. He has no choice but to follow her on a mission to avenge her murdered family and submerge himself in this terrifying world.

Best Bit: The characters of the demon and angel Crowley and Aziraphale are a work of comic genius and both the dialogue and the inner thoughts are always laugh-out-loud brilliant. La Triviata: The writing of Good Omens was conducted mostly via daily telephone conversations between the authors.

Best Bit: Gaiman’s ability to make what one might imagine a London underground to be many times more terrifying. La Triviata: After Gaiman was originally asked to write a series for the BBC, he found that certain important elements of his script were left on the cutting room floor so he decided to accompany the series, aired in 1996, with a novel, which he began writing on the first day of production of the drama.

american gods



American Gods is Gaiman’s epic and without doubt his finest work to date. A more mysterious and brooding presence than the protagonists of Neverwhere and Stardust, the aptly named lead character Shadow is pulled from his ‘normal’ life and, after an early release from prison due to the sudden death of his wife, surrounded by the hitherto unseen world of gods, nymphs and angels. Gaiman leads Shadow on an epic voyage, chaperoned by Mister Wednesday who is a representation of the god Odin, into a battle of the American old gods versus new gods. Shadow travels across America with Mr Wednesday, calling all the old gods into battle as they go, until they reach their destination and the gripping finale Gaiman creates. For anyone who has never read a Neil Gaiman book American Gods is an absolute must. Following a gripping storyline, Gaiman delves into ideas of gods, Americana, old beliefs, morality and so much more. American Gods is a stomachchurning, knuckle-whitening read from start to finish. Shadow is a creation of perfection by Gaiman and gives away very little of himself while madness erupts around him. Best Bit: The marathon battle between the old gods and the new gods which leads to a heartstopping twist La Triviata: In 2010, American Gods was voted the first ‘One Book One Twitter’ through an online poll.



A story quite unlike many of his other adult novels, Stardust was inspired by the fairy tales of Gaiman’s childhood. The main plot derives around two things; a wall that Gaiman drove past which gave him the initial idea for the story, and a shooting star he saw one night while at a party, which he found made the idea even better. He took his Sandman collaborator and illustrator Charles Vess aside and told him about the inspiration he had for a grown- up fairy tale. Vess and Gaiman went on to release an illustrated book called Stardust in 1998. The following year Gaiman was encouraged to publish Stardust as a novel in its own right. The story follows the journey of Tristan Thorne, who has always been intrigued by the village beyond the wall. When he is trying to cajole “the love of his life” Victoria, into all the things he would do for her to be with her, they notice a falling star and Tristan makes a pact with Victoria that if he brings her back the star she will marry him. The story could never be as simple as catching a falling star and putting it in your pocket and Tristan’s journey is beyond the realms of imagining what he bargained for. Best Bit: The almost ever-bickering relationship between Tristan and the falling star elevates Stardust far beyond a swashbuckling fairy tale. La Triviata: In 2007, the novel was adapted into a movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert de Niro and Claire Danes.

Following the success of his first eerie children’s novel Coraline, Gaiman created a masterpiece in The Graveyard Book, which chills adults and children alike. The idea for the novel came to Gaiman in the mid-Eighties when, still living in Britain, he watched his son ride his tricycle through a graveyard. A type of Jungle Book story came to him and, almost 20 years later, he finally set down to writing the novel. The story follows a boy called Nobody Owens who, as a toddler, narrowly escaped the fate of the rest of his family as they were all murdered by the ominous figure of The Man Jack. That night he is rescued by the inhabitants of a graveyard. He is the charge of the people of the graveyard and protected by them until he turns 18 while The Man Jack, relentless in his mission to finish the job, makes the world outside the graveyard walls a far scarier place than the grounds within them. Best Bit: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone and a blade finer and sharper than any razor... if it sliced you, you might not even know that you had been cut – not immediately.” With an opening paragraph like that, it’s hard to choose a highlight. La Triviata: It has been rumoured since shortly after the release of The Graveyard Book that it is to be adapted for the big screen by Neil Jordan.

IN CONCLUSION Despite all the acclaim, Gaiman has always made sure to stay as close as possible to his fans and, since his publishers set up a blog for him when he was writing American Gods almost 10 years ago, he still updates it surprisingly regularly. The author has been an inspiration not only for writers but for musicians too. His close friend Tori Amos has written songs about him on four of her albums. Gaiman is very much a writer of the present with a vivid imagination and a true talent for placing the ordinary right beside the extraordinary and seeing how the former will fare. His quality and quantity of work over the past 20 years is prolific to say the least, having not only written novels and graphic novels, but also film scripts, poetry, songs, short stories, comics and children’s picture books. His secret seems to be always knowing the best way to use the talent and imagination he possesses. —35 AU Magazine—

Classic Film - O Brother, Where Art Thou?


Classic Film


A reinterpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, set during the Great Depression, and featuring a bluegrass soundtrack. It shouldn’t work, but then again nothing the Cohen brothers have ever done has been straightforward. With the promise of big sums of cash on the horizon, join AU as we accompany the Soggy Bottom Boys on a metaphorical quest for greatness and fortune. As Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney) and his two companions (played with subtle charm by John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson) escape from a chain gang to pursue the dream of a $1.2 million treasure, they find themselves entering into a spiritual realm, populated by fascinating grotesques and historical archetypes. The film’s plot takes our hapless heroes through various incredible escapades, as well as touching upon the dark side of spirituality, with McGill ending up with that age-old conundrum of what you do when you’ve actually got the girl, and then have to work out how to keep her? Upon its release, the film was rightly hailed as a minor classic, and Clooney’s star power ensured that it became a cult hit, one of those films that lie slightly off the beaten path, but reward the journey to find it tenfold. But as the years have gone by, the film’s stature has only increased, to the point where it is hailed as one of the defining movies of the last decade. And, in a surprising turn of events, it took on a life of its own due to the idiosyncratic nature of the soundtrack, kick—36 issue 70—

starting what occasionally threatened to be a new movement in American roots music. Joel and Ethan Cohen have stated that the similarities to Homer’s Odyssey were not initially intentional, but began to assert themselves as the creative process progressed, and it does lend a fantastic level of depth to the film, drawing it away from the obvious slapstick sensibility that lies at its heart. Yes, the characters might find themselves in madcap scenarios, but the film also works as a sublime reflection on notions of homecoming and travel. The quest these three convicts undergo has epic connotations and implications, and there are times where their (and by extension, our) moral soul is in jeopardy. The devil looms large in this story, and the Cohens are not afraid to look hard into the eyes of evil. And as if this wasn’t enough, the film is saturated in incredible bluegrass music, making it an entirely immersive cinematic experience. The impact of the music in the film cannot


Words by Steven Rainey

be underestimated, almost functioning as a character in its own right. The collection of Appalachian folk ballads, bluegrass standards, and gospel songs serve to illustrate the story, acting in a similar way to a Greek chorus. The soundtrack was so successful that it spawned a standalone album and concert, breathing new life into a much maligned musical style. Much as McGill and his two-man gang go on their own personal odyssey, bluegrass began its own subtle journey into the heart of the mainstream, songs from the film slowly but surely entering the popular consciousness. Ten years later, it still stands as a uniquely enjoyable cinematic experience, a film that was not afraid to show its philosophical smarts, but was also confident enough to let you laugh at the simple joy of someone doing a pratfall. In a career which has often seen the Cohen brothers lauded as the auteur’s auteur, O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the moment where they came down from the mountain and shared their gift with everyone.

P.56 Two Door Cinema Club

p.42 Kinect

p.38 Grinderman

p.52 Not Squares

“People keeping asking us about pressure, but we’re not feeling it that much. We’re just looking forward to it.” “We are fronting up to issues that most men would rather not face up to”

“You are Tom Cruise. You are Jean Michel Jarre with his keyboards made from shafts of light. You are the future.” “It was obvious that we needed to become an electronic band. Some kind of weird club band.”

p. 44 Simian Mobile Disco

“Everywhere you go, there’s something wrong that people are into eating.”

—37 AU Magazine—


—38 issue 70—

Grinderman Three years ago, when Nick Cave and a trio of his Bad Seeds mutated into Grinderman and released their eponymous debut, it howled and raged with sexual menace. However instead of slinking back to oblivion, they’ve bettered it with one of the albums of 2010. AU meets the purveyors of fantastical beards and incendiary garage-punk to find how improvisation has created the ultimate “thigh opener”. Just don’t call it a mid-life crisis. • Words by John Freeman • Outside a North London recording studio there is some filming going on. Members of the band One Night Only are practising opening a door in an adjacent house, walking towards the steps of the studio’s impressive Victorian frontage, and entering the front door. They are in the process of recording a single with a short film to accompany it. The lads, with carefully messed-up hair and skinny jeans, are trying to look like indie rock stars and walk at the same time. It’s harder than you think and the process is repeated for some minutes. Suddenly, during one take, a huge black Audi pulls up to the entrance. A chauffeur opens the rear door, and out steps a man dressed in a lime green shirt and tight black trousers. His hair is slicked back and he stalks, insect-like, up the studio steps. It’s Nick Cave and he has obliviously walked straight through the ‘scene’, ruining that particular take. Minutes later, bandmate Warren Ellis does exactly the same thing. Clearly, Grinderman don’t give a fuck about One Night Only’s filming schedule. Grinderman have arrived to rehearse for a European tour to promote their quite frankly brilliant latest long-player – the imaginatively titled Grinderman 2. Their debut album appeared to be a celebration of libidinous middle-aged men exercising, and perhaps exorcising, their right to lust. Multiple reviews suggested it was a sonic mid-life crisis, a description which Cave is understandably riled by. “The ‘mid-life crisis’ was an easy journalistic

tag. It’s patronising about something which is quite complex and possibly threatening, on some levels. So it’s an easy way to dismiss it and render it impotent. I did find it very fucking patronising.” His words hang heavy in the air. Grinderman 2 is a very different beast; it is more expansive musically and lyrically more diverse – even if the trademark talk of wolfmen and bogeymen still prowls the songs. While testosterone and aggression are still in evidence, the wonderful psycho pop of ‘Palaces Of Montezuma’ and the Lou Reed-inspired ballad ‘When My Baby Comes’ both display a softer, feminine side to the band. Cave pounces on the assertion, “There is a vulnerability in Grinderman that I think women recognise. They understand intuitively that we are fronting up to issues that most men would rather not face up to. Vulnerability is the wrong word. It’s a neurosis. We’re not ashamed to admit that we are neurotic. We are being driven by neuroses.” “And as we all know, that’s a real thigh opener,” drummer Jim Sclavunos deadpans. “The sage speaks,” laughs Cave. “We open ourselves up to both ridicule and awe.” In the flesh, Nick Cave is a wondrous sight. It’s his 53rd birthday today (AU ashamedly arrives empty-handed), and he looks as if he could be in his mid-thirties. Tanned, lean and wrinklefree, he looks like a bastion of health next to his

—39 AU Magazine—


“It’s not like you’re young and care what anyone thinks. You just don’t give a shit after a certain point.”

grizzly bandmates. Guitarist Warren Ellis possesses a beard of natural wonder and a hideous cackle to match, while at 6’ 7” Sclavunos is a tower of sardonic insight. The fourth member, bass player Marty Casey, sits behind his shades and barely utters a word. Grinderman has become something of a creative salvation for Cave. The method of writing songs through improvised jam sessions has given him a jolt of freedom. After The Bad Seeds’ magnificent Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus albums in 2004, Cave felt his energy levels had sapped. “It was getting very difficult for me to sit in my office with a blank piece of paper and come up with songs. I have written over 200 of them and it is difficult to find that original spark of creation to write another song. You just run out of things to write about.” Was he ever concerned that he would lose the capability to write songs? “Yeah, there is a certain panic about things. I’m always worried about being spooked as a songwriter and not being able to do something and it snowballing into flat-out writer’s block and then you don’t write anything for a couple of years. I’ve made every effort to not let that happen, but sometimes when you have had a day when you’ve played a whole lot of bullshit, you start doubting your abilities or whether you’ve still got it.

—40 issue 70—

“Suddenly, Grinderman offered a whole new way of making music which was a) collaborative and b) didn’t require any time or effort on some level because it was largely improvised. So, you go into the situation with absolutely nothing, with no ideas and you just play music for five days. In that process, stuff just comes up. Then I go back and try and stay true to those themes that were coming up within the improvised session, work on them and bring them up to scratch. That’s a whole new way of writing that has really enriched the songwriting process for me for The Bad Seeds, where I can now sit down with a blank piece of paper and feel freed up by that.” It’s a view that’s shared by the others, who between them have played in dozens of bands including The Triffids, The Cramps and Sonic Youth. Warren Ellis seems particularly invigorated; “With Grinderman, I like the fact that we are trying to find something all the time. It feels to me that we are going into it with the same enthusiasm we did when we were 19 to find something different, musically and lyrically. It feels like that energy is still there, which I find really addictive.” Suddenly, all is not well in Nick Cave’s world. “What, are you saying that we were going back to the studio like kids, or something?” he asks Ellis, accusingly. “All I’m saying, is not that we’re like 19

years old again, but it’s with the same enthusiasm that I’ve always felt with these people still seems to be there, no matter what,” Ellis replies defensively. “That’s all I meant. Fucking hell, it’s lucky there’s two people between us on this couch.” An unlikely diplomat, Sclavunos attempts to defuse the situation by talking over his glowering bandmates. “I think it’s just in our temperament to have this restless creativity, whether you are talking about Grinderman or The Bad Seeds, individually or collectively. We set a high bar for ourselves.” But Cave is having none of it; he has a point to make and he’s going to make it. “I’m more excited about the process of making music than I was when I was 19. When I was 19, I was really ambivalent about it to begin with. I didn’t know anything about it or if that’s what I wanted to do with my life – to be a musician. It took quite a long time to get to something where I felt that I was actually going into the studio and doing something important. And now it really feels like that.” “Fuck – I’ll let you off because it’s your birthday,” soothes Ellis to AU’s relief. “Any other day and I’d have jumped on your…” As both Grinderman albums have been created by an initial intense burst of improvisation and

jamming, there is no sense of moulding how each record might sound. There will be no premeditated sonic evolution for future Grinderman records. “What we are actually doing is not preparing and going in and improvising and really allowing that hothouse situation to take the music to somewhere completely different. That’s what we are looking for,” Cave explains. “The interesting thing about the last Grinderman improvised sessions is that we left (at least Warren and I did) feeling like we didn’t really get that much.” Ellis writes songs in a similar way with his other band, The Dirty Three, and concurs with Cave’s view, “You leave and you are depressed and you throw it all in the bin. And then you come back again, and there is something really good about that. It teaches you humility.” But out of dejection, came the light of salvation. “It was only when we listened to it later on that we were like, ‘Fuck, this is amazing’, because it was very different from what we anticipated the next Grinderman record to be,” Cave admits. The other defining change for Cave in the last few years was that he began to play the guitar; an act which has completely changed how he perceives music and the songwriting process. “There is something very immediate about the guitar. Before, when I present a song I have written on the piano

the kind of chords you play are different, and they don’t actually sound like rock ‘n’ roll. As soon as I started playing the guitar – which I only have a basic ability to play – I was immediately able to understand why rock ‘n’ roll was rock ‘n’ roll. Within a week of learning three chords I could pretty much sit there and play about 10 Velvet Underground songs – this is why and how it’s done.” A week later, and with their UK tour in full swing, AU catches Grinderman’s Manchester show. It’s an exhilarating experience; time may have dimmed the debauched anarchy of Cave’s Birthday Party performances, but there is a still a deliciously controlled fury. Whether it’s ending up in the crowd during a particularly sleazy version of ‘Kitchenette’, or accidentally falling into Sclavunos’ drum kit while vamping up ‘Heathen Child’ (“Sorry Jim”), Cave is still a master of menace and his fellow Grinder-guys are seriously skilled musicians. The new track that is greeted by the biggest cheer is the next single ‘Worm Tamer’. During our interview, we reflect on the fact that almost every review has made reference to the perceived humour of the lyric, “My baby calls me the Loch Ness monster / Two great big humps and then I’m gone.” “There were probably a lot of guys having a serious meltdown at home listening to that one,”

chuckles Ellis. Cave, however, is aghast at the idea that the line is comedic. “That wasn’t supposed to be funny. It’s tragic.” There is, however, a refreshing level of selfdeprecation running through Grinderman songs, be it the Loch Ness admission or the defeated air of ‘No Pussy Blues’, a track from their debut album. According to Ellis, it’s a deprecation brought about by self-confidence and experience. “It’s a fucking age thing at this point – it’s not like you’re young and care what anyone thinks. You just don’t give a shit after a certain point.” With band bonhomie restored, Cave nods in agreement, “That’s what happens, you get to a certain age and you don’t give a fuck.” “I could be completely wrong about this,” he continues, coming full-circle on our discussion. “But I think that women respond to the fact that we are quite open about the male situation and that there is a certain levity about it that they enjoy.” There is seemingly no end to Grinderman’s ability to open thighs. Grinderman 2 is out now on Mute www.grinderman.com

THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE Kinect pushes gaming forward In recent years videogames have become an increasingly lucrative art form that even threatens to eclipse the film and music industries. New console technology is more powerful and versatile than it has ever been, as evidenced by Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral. Currently selling in the millions and being given away on umpteen American chat shows, we find out if Xbox’s new gizmo is as good as everybody says it is… Words by Ross Thompson Illustration by Mark Reihill

—42 issue 70—

The Wave Of The Future In a famous scene from 2010: A Space Odyssey (1968), Stanley Kubrick’s emotionally aloof deconstruction of the sci-fi genre, a prehistoric ape tosses a bone in the air and we jump cut to a satellite floating silently in outer space. The subtext is simply but elegantly staged: technological progress does not evolve steadily throughout time; long periods of intellectual stagnation are infrequently broken by sudden, violent lurches forward. The same rule applies to the videogames medium. We’ve come a long way since the invention of Pong (1972) and Dig Dug (1982), but the intervening decades cannot be plotted on one smooth upwards curve. Rather, they are plateaus on a graph broken by occasional upwards spikes. For example, when Wolfenstein 3D (1992) refined the first person shooter genre or Half-Life (1998) not only introduced believable physics but also told a fantastic story, more people caught on to the idea that games were not wasteful entertainment: they were slowly approaching a serious art form. For close to a century futurists and cyberpunks have been imagining something more disconcerting: controlling technology through the power of the mind, or at the very least, with a flamboyant wave of the hand. Think of Spielberg’s terrific Minority Report (2002), in which Tom Cruise’s psychic detective accesses and manipulates criminal databases by barking commands and gesticulating wildly. Or Cronenberg’s EXistenZ (1999), in which gamers lose themselves in virtual worlds by jacking game pods into organic ports in their own spines. This vision of the future has always been fantastical rather than speculative, though if you spend any time on buses, trains or university lecture halls you will spot dozens of people jacked into a different kind of pod. While it’s a nice idea to change channels by flicking the air or stir a risotto from the comfort of one’s own chair, surely nobody would possess the know-how to, in JeanLuc Picard’s words, make it so. That opinion altered radically with the arrival of the Nintendo Wii. The console, cased in clean, white plastic and jutting upwards like the monolith Kubrick’s apes worshipped, was a game-changer, literally speaking. Released four years ago, it promised a level of interactivity never before achieved with home technology of this type, and it just about delivered it. While the Wii was stymied by a poor selection of launch games – a problem which, to be honest, still dogs the console – it sold like the Japanese equivalent of hot cakes and became the must have gift that Christmas. Most impressively, it broke all clichés and marketing patterns when it was bought up largely by female consumers. The jiggery-pokery might now seem primitive, but at the time players were wowed by the concept of playing bowling and tennis just

Look Ma, No Hands! Kinect isn’t the first peripheral to try to change the way people play games. Here are some other oddities… Duck Hunt (1984) This Nintendo classic came with the ‘Zapper’ light gun for taking down birds and clay shots. No actual ducks were harmed in the making of this game. Power Glove (1989) Nintendo’s multibuttoned gauntlet was supposed to make you look and feel like a badass future hero.

by waving the controller at the television. It may have led to a significant number of punctured flat-screens and broken ornaments, but Nintendo’s box of delights once again hit the sweet spot through its wholesome, unthreatening quality. The wireless control system was almost secondary to the fact that this was the first console to truly bring the family together to play videogames, which was previously an isolated, unsociable pastime. Gaming was no longer a guilty clandestine pursuit practised by agoraphobic nerds: it had become a family activity. With Nintendo selling millions of Wii and handheld DSi units, it wasn’t long before other corporations tried to reclaim some ground. Sony recently released the Move motion controller for the Playstation 3, a peripheral which looks not unlike a microphone with a glow-in-the-dark ping pong ball glued on top. Reviews have been mixed so far, with critics praising the way the tech has been used to beef up pre-existent releases such as Resident Evil 5 (2009) and immersive noir thriller Heavy Rain (2010), but once again drawing attention to the paltry smattering of launch titles. Nonetheless, it has still managed to shift over four million units. Of course, the main problem with the Move controller is that it exists at all. In that respect, Microsoft’s Kinect is much more tantalising. Initially developed under the moniker Natal, which sounds like an acronym for a shady medical institute, the self-proclaimed “gaming and entertainment experience” tickled the fancy by boasting that it would jettison the controller altogether. Early footage of Natal was at once exciting and baffling. A notorious presentation at the E3 games expo back in 2009 featured the project Milo and Kate, where players were invited to interact and talk to an animated young boy. You are no doubt already imagining how some folks reacted – and you would be right. A particularly incensed Charlie Brooker, who has made a career out of playing videogames and being enthused and/or incensed about them, commented that the concept was just a bit weird. The naysayers, however, were missing the point. Milo was most likely a tech demo rather than a fully fledged game, an indication of what Microsoft’s new gadget could do. To that end this new gadget was pretty wonderful. What if a console could track your body movements and recreate them onscreen, in the same way that motion capture is used to design Gollum, the Na’vi et al, though in the form of a cartoon avatar or an animated videogame character? What if a console could recognise your voice and obey your instructions? Surely the most incredulous gamer, who would be of the opinion that videogames are best accompanied by a large sofa, a Big Gulp and a jumbo

It looked like something culled from the frame of a decommissioned cyborg. Sega Activator (1993) An unwieldy plastic octagon which required its own power supply to run a series of infrared beams. How did it possibly fail? Sega Bass Fishing (1999) The Dreamcast fishing simulator was bundled with a miniature rod for ‘more realistic play’. Guess what? Pretend fishing is just as dull as the real thing.

bag of nachos, would be intrigued by such witchcraft. Having spent some quality time hands on – or off, rather – with Kinect, it’s safe to say that it lives up to expectations. Admittedly, it feels weird at first. Switch on the Xbox and the black, elongated webcam-like device tilts up and down, scanning your body. Its glowing red eye and whirring lends it the appearance of a benign Terminator. Surely it can’t be long now before Skynet becomes sentient and nukes the world. Apocalypse be damned, because this is jolly good fun. A straightforward tutorial walks you through the set-up process, politely asking you to stand in the designated area and make a series of hand gestures while your avatar mimics them. No, it doesn’t accept rude ones. Place your hand over an imaginary button and a loading circle will appear onscreen. When the meter fills it takes you to a new menu. This might sound like basic stuff, but the effect is charming. You are Tom Cruise. You are Jean Michel Jarre with his keyboards made from shafts of light. You are the future. And then you have the voice commands. You say “Xbox,” over-accentuating the consonants and flattening the vowels, and a set of options pops up. You say “Play Disc,” more normally this time, and the disc will indeed play. The console, like HAL the obtuse computer in A Space Odyssey, does not intone, “I’m sorry, Dave, I cannot do that.” It does indeed play the disc. Yes, that is your spine tingling. Those are your fingers twitching. The effect is undeniably stirring. It feels like those childhood Christmases when there was still magic and wonder in the opening of parcels, not the fear of naff gifts or the longing for something better. “Play disc,” you say again, repeatedly, putting on funny voices. It still plays the disc. You can’t imagine a time when this will lose its thrill.   The launch titles, as you might expect, are a mixed bag. Pick of the bunch are Kinect Sports, a compendium of football, bowling and boxing that guarantees a proper workout; Kinectimals, which has you petting impossibly cute tigers until you reach a kind of safari Zen; and Dance Central, a non-stop disco-‘em-up with a cracking soundtrack. Yet what really titillates is the potential of what savvy designers can do next. Think of how much more visceral Call Of Duty would be if you were able to hold an invisible gun, or what it would add to Star Wars if you could wield a pretend lightsaber and see your Jedi – or Sith, depending on your moral standing – dissecting and bisecting enemies onscreen. Think of the ways in which Kinect could be adapted to operate PCs, music centres or home entertainment systems. The possibilities are boundless. We are on the crest of another upwards spike, so let’s jump before we hit one of those boring plateaus.

Perfect Dark (2000) Originally, the idea for this innovative first person shooter was for players to use the Game Boy Camera to take pictures of their faces and scan them onto in-game characters. Parents weren’t quite so keen on the idea of their offspring blasting each other in the skull. Guitar Hero (2005) Mashing away at a plastic Gibson SG might not be anything like playing an actual guitar, but the franchise is unstoppable nonetheless.

Resident Evil 4 (2005) Some limited edition copies of the acclaimed Survival Horror included a controller in the shape of a bloody chainsaw. Its impractical size and shape made it just as useful for playing the game as for cutting down actual trees. Tony Hawk: Ride (2009) The once great franchise hit a new low when it was shipped with a wheel-less skateboard controller. A New Mexico landfill is no doubt packed full of the things. —43 AU Magazine—

A Taste Worth Acquiring - Simian Mobile Disco

A Taste Worth Acquiring

Simian Mobile Disco

—44 issue 70—

After the dance-pop smorgasbord that was 2009’s Temporary Pleasure, Simian Mobile Disco serve up a techno palate-cleanser in the shape of new collection Delicacies. Jas Shaw talks AU through the culinary inspirations behind this latest offering and whets our appetite for next year’s third studio album proper. Words by Francis Jones First, an apology. This feature contains numerous, rather forced, food related analogies and metaphors. In our defence, we would like to point out that it was Jas Shaw and James Ford what started it. The English production/DJ duo better known as Simian Mobile Disco have just released a new compilation titled Delicacies. The album brings together a number of previously released, techno-centric singles, each of the individual tracks named after an exotic and, to this uncultured mind, revolting foodstuff. There is ‘Hákarl’, an Icelandic speciality made from fermented shark; ‘Casu Marzu’, an Italian cheese teeming with live insect larvae; and ‘Ortolan’. This latter dish is legendary among gourmands, illegal in fact, made as it is from an endangered species – the yellow-throated songbird of the same name. Ortolan provided one of the courses at former French President, Francois Mitterand’s infamous last banquet. There are various ways to serve the dish, but often the

thumb-sized creature is force-fed, then drowned in brandy before arriving at the table. The diner must bite off the unfortunate critter’s head before devouring the rest of the bird in one mouthful bones, internal organs, the lot. Although in theory he’s familiar with all the barely edibles that lend their names to Delicacies’ tracks, Jas hasn’t actually tried the ortolan. In fact, as he rather sheepishly admits, there are quite a few of the stomach-churning delights that neither he, nor James, have sampled. “Well, the hákarl is actually quite hard to come by,” he protests, “but, yeah, there are definitely a few that I wouldn’t be putting my hand up for. I have been in Jakarta before, though, and eaten skin cracker [think pork scratchings] and cow’s brain, oh, and knee ligament. We travel a lot and as soon as we were onto this idea, everywhere we went, we would ask the promoter and the people knocking about after the shows, ‘What weird kind

—45 AU Magazine—

A Taste Worth Acquiring - Simian Mobile Disco

of shit do you eat out here?’ You’d be surprised at some of the responses. Everywhere you go, there’s something wrong that people are into eating.”

is wholly in keeping with the spirit of the music birthed in those cities during the Eighties, music unapologetically brutal of beat.

What, we wonder, could such bizarre cuisine have to do with the senses-throttling techno of Delicacies? As Jas kindly points out, the parallels are plentiful. “We talked about how these foodstuffs were considered delicacies, but the very term ‘delicacies’ is a trick. You find the most revolting, disgusting part of any animal – offal, the leftovers, the less obvious cuts that no one wants to eat it – call it a delicacy and everyone is into it. It creates this strange situation in which the most grotesque things are held in high regard by this select group, the connoisseurs. Everyone else, though, is like, ‘Why do you eat that?’.

What’s more, these are tracks created primarily by the two SMD men alone, unlike Temporary Pleasure, which was an album awash with collaborators. Looking back on their previous studio effort, Shaw insists it wasn’t quite a case of ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’, but admits that the album, “turned out more vocal and poppy than either of us predicted. That was kind of a warning, for us to say to each other, ‘There aren’t gonna be any choruses here, dude’.”

“There’s a parallel between how those foods are perceived and the music that we are into, not just techno, but psychedelia. You play those types of music to certain people and they’re like, ‘Well, it’s just fucking noise’. Not that I’m trying to suggest that there’s anything exclusive about Delicacies, or that only certain people are going to like it, but the idea that it didn’t have such obvious appeal, the strangeness of it all, the extremes and the unusual aesthetic, that was the message we were going for.” After the eclecticism of Temporary Pleasure, Delicacies is a refreshingly straight-up techno record, one that journeys further into this thrillingly harsh dance genre than even their debut, Attack Decay Sustain Release, dared. As Jas wistfully casts his mind back, recalling his techno epiphany, the name of one act comes sharply into focus: Aphex Twin. Richard David James, the electronic music pioneer better-known under that name, provided the catalyst for Shaw to explore Warp Records, to become smitten with the likes of Autechre and LFO and, eventually, to immerse himself in the music of techno’s twin motherlands, Detroit and Chicago. Delicacies —46 issue 70—

At present, such thinking extends to their next album, a record that is still very much in its infancy, but which Jas expects to be less pop than Temporary Pleasure and, certainly, less guest heavy. “We haven’t thought about it too much, but, recently, we did have a bit of a chat. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve even started to put together some ideas and got down to making stuff. Actually, this part is the most exciting part for me. The process, it’s a real challenge. We’ll come up with lots of ideas, but just have no clear concept, at this early stage, of how it’s all going to fit together. That process will probably take quite a while and we’ll also likely ditch a lot of stuff. All I know for sure is that it will be out at some point next year.” For those familiar only with SMD’s more poptastic moments, ‘Audacity of Huge’ for example, this change of tack and the full-on barrage of club beats unleashed on Delicacies may come as something of a shock. But, as Jas points out, that’s not his concern. “We tend to just get on and make music and not really worry about that side of things. This record definitely wasn’t a conscious effort to change how people thought of us, but we did feel that we needed to differentiate it from the two albums

we’d already put out. Both those albums were, largely, for home listening. However, these songs, they come to life in clubs. Some of these tracks, if you listen to them on a laptop you can’t really hear everything that’s going on - it’s all under 60 hertz, or whatever, it just sounds like a load of clicks. But, you hear it on a PA and it makes complete sense. We wanted to make it clear that this was not music for home listening, or for your iPod. This is club music.” Aside from the studio, the club is the habitat that SMD most readily call home. Much of their music, not just Delicacies, is tailored for that setting. The duo have a residency at New York’s Fixed and have, more recently, begun to run their own ‘Delicatessen’ parties. The latter venture allows them to exert more control over the club nights at which they play. Jas is refreshingly old school when asked what constitutes a good club night, as far as he’s concerned, it’s about “getting sweaty” and “doing the business”. He bemoans the current vogue for ‘table service’, “where they rope off an area, you pay for a table, then they bring over bottles of champagne and vodka, or whatever. It’s basically for show-off Miami types, who turn up with their boys, sit there sipping their booze and try and buy more expensive drinks than the table beside them”. He’s also none too enamoured of photo-bloggers. “People are turning up at 11pm, or even midnight, and once they’ve gotten their photo taken, they fuck off home! When did that become a good idea? Bottle service and photo-blogging are killing clubbing, they’re the antithesis of what clubbing should be about. All you need for a good club is a pretty dark room, very loud music and people there who love the music,” he pauses, before summing up, “ultimately, it should all come back to the music.” Delicacies is out now on Delicacies Records www.simianmobiledisco.co.uk

30 Recession Remedies You Can Find In Your Own Backyard Have you ever heard the saying ‘It’s better to shine a light than to curse the darkness’? Well, we at AU are firm believers in that school of thought. At the moment there are a lot of doom mongers out there, talking smack about how pants everything is, and how the recession is going to consume us all alive before grinding down our bones and snorting them. Now, we know that they have a fair point; the economic situation across the world is indeed dire, but it’s not all bad. Ireland might have taken a nosedive of epic proportions, and Northern Ireland is facing deep cuts as well, but there is still an absolute

plethora of good things around that we can take stock of and pride in. From small DIY record labels in Dublin to vibrant arts spaces in Belfast and buzzing gig venues in Galway, there is no shortage of ways to take your mind off the grind. And then there’s that ever-present method of escapism – sport. Our national football teams and the Irish rugby team may struggle to inspire, but look towards golf, boxing and even semi-professional football and there are plenty of opportunities to smile. So here is our shot at shining a light – 30 reasons to be cheerful and glad that you’re still here.

Words by Kiran Acharya, Jonathan Bradley, Niall Byrne, Reggie Chamberlain-King, Tia Clarke, Neill Dougan, John Freeman, Niamh Hegarty, James Hendicott, Chris Jones, Francis Jones, Nay McArdle, Gary McCall, Karl McDonald, Aoife McKeown, Joe Nawaz

—47 AU Magazine—

18 - 30


Wayne Simmons, novelist

Belfast man Simmons has published two novels in the past two years, which is achievement enough, without the need for either to be successful. The first, though, Drop Dead Gorgeous, a post-apocalyptic chiller set in a recognisably lifeless Belfast, proved a very popular small press release, while the second, 2010’s sick biohazard fantasy, Flu, has been up and down the Amazon horror charts like Ingrid Pitt’s gown in any number of Hammer romps, selling 3000 copies in six months of release. He has taken to his new responsibility as a proper author by turning waynesimmons.org into a depository of interviews with and insights from his colleagues in the world of horror and urban fantasy, updated regularly, even while he works on a cyberpunk thriller, Plastic Jesus. RC-K - waynesimmons.org


NI Commonwealth Games Boxers

The Commonwealth and its attendant ‘Games’ may be a somewhat off-colour anachronism to some, but all geo-political integrity goes south when Northern Ireland’s verdant corner of the former empire gets within a snifter of gold. How sweet was it to land a hat-trick of the shiny wee buggers in the boxing in Delhi, where prize pugilists Paddy Barnes, Paddy Gallagher and Eamonn O’Kane skipped away with the light flyweight, welterweight and middleweight titles respectively? Sweeter still the fact that O‘Kane and Gallagher walloped a pair of Albion’s finest in their final bouts including, brilliantly, a former Big Brother contestant. Following his Olympic bronze with Commonwealth gold, the deliciously cocky Barnes declared, “Next year I'm going to be the champion of the world.” We’ll have an airport named after him yet. JN


Catalyst Arts, Belfast

As unconventional and provocative as ever, Catalyst Arts turned 16 this year and has admirably maintained its reputation for providing a great platform for contemporary art and artists alike. Highlights of the past year included the ‘Danse Macabre’ project which featured a collaborative sculpture/sound piece from tattoo artist Helen McDonnell and The Continuous Battle Of Order’s Hornby, a gig from Dublin’s Logikparty, and the opportunity to chuck paint at members of epic-rockers Kasper Rosa under the guise of performance art. The gallery also recently moved into a new space at the site of a former skate park. AMcK - catalystarts.org.uk



Block T, Dublin

Operated on a not-for-profit basis, Block T is – like Exchange Dublin, Basic Space and The Complex, one of several DIY venues to have risen from the ashes of the recession. Situated above a Chinese supermarket in Smithfield in a former tile factory, Block T host all manner of arty events. Expect everything from BYOB gigs organised by Skinny Wolves, to art exhibitions, to dance performances and sound workshops. As a venue, it’s a harsh industrial space, all concrete and sharp strip lights, but it’s the electric atmosphere and energy that keeps people coming back for more. Dublin’s economy might be going down the drain, but everyone’s here to party like it’s 1999. Vive la pop-up space! TC





Solar Bears


Skinny Wolves

Belfast-based film-maker Will McConnell has been steadily building a strong fanbase for his excellent music site, bandwidthsessions.com. What marks Bandwidth out from all the other music blogs and sites is the quality and uniqueness of the videos. A few weeks back, Will filmed Brendan Benson surrounded by lizards at City Reptiles and most recently Feet For Wings at the carousel in the Christmas Market. But the videos aren’t gimmicks – the music is all top quality too, with some great tips for new bands. The site also has some fantastic music-related features and free video podcasts and mixtapes. Bandwidth has recently been tipped by The Guardian and The Irish Times, and we at AU are inclined to agree. TC

Joining the ever-increasing ranks of good bands named after bears (see also Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear, Bear In Heaven), Dublin/Wicklow electronica duo Solar Bears (Rian Trench and John Kowalski) had a stellar year in 2010. Signing to Planet Mu, they followed acclaimed debut EP Inner Sunshine with one of the year’s best albums in the form of She Was Coloured In. 2011 should see more ‘Bear action – the pair are currently preparing for live shows (“We are rehearsing at the moment and that is our primary focus,” Kowalski tells AU) and they tantalisingly promise they have a “few surprises” up their sleeves as well. We can’t wait. ND

Jamie from Cap Pas Cap is the arbiter of taste that runs Skinny Wolves – both a music promotion company and a record label. Always ahead of the pack, the Wolves have been consistently bringing stellar bands to Ireland for the last few years, including the likes of Telepathe, Ariel Pink and Gang Gang Dance. The tagline ‘artrockin’ music you can dance to’ sums them up perfectly. Put simply, if it has got the Skinny Wolves seal of approval, you can bet it’s quality. Plus, their posters and record covers are a thing of beauty, and you can delve into the mixtapes by SW artists on skinnywolves.com. TC

- bandwidthsessions.com

- myspace.com/solarbears

- skinnywolves.com

—48 issue 70—

Reasons to be Cheerful




The Black Box, Belfast

The heart and soul of the Cathedral Quarter’s arts scene, The Black Box provides a wonderful melange of everything cultural, from club nights and exhibitions to its monthly Black Market craft fair, and over the past year it has seen great gigs from acts such as Liars, Errors, Villagers and Laura Marling. Despite its great reputation, however, and what would be assumed to be its success, Belfast City Council announced earlier this year that it would be withdrawing its funding for The Black Box from 2012, leaving it with an uncertain future. A Facebook campaign, among other protests, was launched to lambast the cuts and to try and save this much-appreciated venue. Let’s hope it does the trick. AMcK


Matty Burrows’ Wonder Goal

Glentoran players have achieved many notable feats over the years – AU’s favourite was when Keith Gillespie fulfilled the dream of every young football fan by punching Alan Shearer – but until Matty Burrows’ audacious back-heeled volley in injury time against Portadown, none had become a YouTube sensation (four million views and counting) and been nominated, alongside Lionel Messi, for the FIFA Goal Of The Year award. Since then, Burrows has appeared on Sky Sports’ Soccer AM as well as in every media outlet Northern Ireland has to offer. Forget the draw against Italy – this was NI football’s high watermark in 2010. JB - bit.ly/burrowsgoal

- blackboxbelfast.com


Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast

If ever a space transcended the mundane and transmuted to the kick-ass, then it’s Belfast's dedicated Music Centre, Oh Yeah. In 2010, it was up to its substantial oxters in the thick, sustaining musical porridge that was Belfast’s first ever Music Week, launched a second excellent compilation CD, and completed a rather spiffing extension. As an organisation with a clear, empowering agenda it’s been in the running for the Lottery-backed People’s Millions, put together climate change gig ‘Set Carbon to Nil’ and it is currently undertaking serious, democratic ruminations on how best to mark the passing of the unofficial, imported but ohso-perfect patron saint of Oh Yeah – Joe Strummer. Glorious, gavel-banging business as usual, then. JN - ohyeahbelfast.com



Stephen Downey, comic artist

Belfast-based Downey is now mostly living up to the success of 2009’s Cancertown, his first professional graphic novel, produced in partnership with writer Cy Dethan. It sold beyond conservative estimates, becoming a recent cult classic, and was one of the earliest comics to be made available digitally, via Sony, for the PSP. A sequel is already being prepared, but the pair return before that in 2011 with their second collaboration, Slaughterman’s Creed, from Markosia comics. In the interim, Stephen has drawn for the Torchwood comic, both here and in America, and will be teaming up with writer, Robert Curley, for the ominously-titled, but entirely proper, Irish adventure series, The League of Volunteers. RC-K - stephendowneygallery.com

19 2

Retro Game Shops, Dublin

Dublin sadly lost independent record store Road Records this year, but gained The R.A.G.E. (Record - Art - Game Emporium) in its stead. From Mega Drive to N64 consoles, retro turntables to vinyl, it’s the kind of place you could lose an afternoon browsing in. The surge in popularity of retro games in Dublin has (unfortunately) seen a rise in prices, but store owner Nicholas Di Maio strives to keep these old favourites affordable rather than exclusive. He added that old school games are also a fun and inexpensive option for parents who can’t necessarily afford the latest Call of Duty game for their kids. Free instore gigs are planned for December, kicking off with a hip-hop night on the 9th. A must for all video game enthusiasts, you’ll find The R.A.G.E. on Fade Street. NH


Roisin Dubh, Galway

Ask any Irish musician what the best venue in Ireland is, and a disproportionately huge number will name Galway’s contemporary music über-hub. Guided by the brilliant Gugai and luring in the locals with a selection of top-end talent playing week in, week out in a room that is, frankly, bordering on the insultingly intimate, this is the West’s place to be. The venue is home to the iconic ‘Strange Brew’, a weekly club night that has featured half the Irish bands you’ve ever heard of (and costs absolutely nothing to get into) and has branched out into bringing mammoth names to the West by hosting gigs in the city’s sizeable Radisson Hotel. Throw in some of the city’s cheapest pints and friendly regulars, and you’d be a fool not to try it. JH - roisindubh.net —49 AU Magazine—

9 - 17


Belfast’s Festival Scene

Talk of the economic crisis is both impossible to avoid and irritating in equal measure. Refreshingly, there is no sign of such woes affecting Belfast’s ever-growing festival programme. Belsonic continues to develop, with this year’s edition expanding to eight nights, four of which were sell-outs. The event brought million-selling stars such as David Guetta, Paul Weller and Florence and the Machine to Belfast, while also reminding everyone that the Stereophonics still exist. Custom House Square and the surrounding area also played host events such as the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, the Out To Lunch Festival and the Open House Festival. Encompassing gigs from the likes of The Divine Comedy, Modest Mouse and Villagers, literary readings, film screenings and even a Chillifest, the line-ups were nothing if not varied. Meanwhile, festivals such as the Belfast Film Festival, Cinemagic and the Belfast Festival at Queen’s continued to flourish, each celebrating the work of local artists and those from further afield. While it’s clichéd to say that there is something for everyone, if you couldn’t find anything to pique your interest in that lot then it really is time to find a hobby. JB



Popical Island

16 2

Harmless Noise


BBC Radio in Northern Ireland

Ireland has suddenly found itself with a sprightly collective of musicians operating under the Popical Island parasol. In May, the Popicals presented a united front of indie-pop with Popical Island Compilation #1. The release showcased the hidden purveyors of rickety and self-proclaimed bockety lo-fi pop in the country with bands like Squarehead, Yeh Deadlies, So Cow, Tieranniesaur, No Monster Club and The Walpurgis Family all featuring. Label figureheads Groom’s superb Marriage album followed, while an all-day gig in Dublin established their collected live credentials and a monthly club night was started in Dublin, called Popicalia. Most importantly, this day-glo camaraderie will produce plenty more music to look forward to in 2011. NB

There are music blogs, and then there’s Harmless Noise. Anyone making relatively alternative music in Dublin or even anywhere on the island will have come across Nay McArdle’s astoundingly legwork-driven corner of the internet. She plays the aggregator, sharing gig posters, new videos, new tracks and general band news, filtered through the arbiter of (open-minded) taste. There are posts every day, making what was once a tangled, disconnected mess into something resembling a scene. But she also Gives A Shit. She listens to the music she promotes and clearly cares deeply about it. In a world of matesy music television presenters, burnt-out journalists and disinterested bloggers, that makes all the difference. KMcD

While this feature quite rightly celebrates a spirit of solidarity throughout Ireland, it is also worth remembering that there is a crucial media connection between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. It’s called the BBC. Across The Line (on Radio Ulster) and Electric Mainline (on Radio Foyle) showcase the brightest young talents from Northern Ireland and beyond. Rory McConnell does something similar under the BBC Radio 1 Introducing in Northern Ireland banner, which means he has the ear of national radio tastemakers like Huw Stephens and Zane Lowe. Just ask Not Squares or LaFaro, who would each have found UK airplay and major festival appearances much harder to come by were it not for the BBC’s support. CJ

- popicalisland.tumblr.com

- harmlessnoise.wordpress.com

- bbc.co.uk/northernireland/atl



—50 issue 70—

Ireland’s ‘World-Leading’ Animators

As technology evolves, so computer generated imagery (CGI) has transformed the world of animated movies into one of the most lucrative genres in the film industry. Irish people made a notable impact in 2010 with Academy Award nominations for Granny O’Grimm and The Secret of Kells, while Richie Baneham won an Oscar for his visual effects work on the ground-breaking Avatar. According to Animation Ireland, “Ireland is rightly regarded as a world leader in the animation field with Irish companies creating sophisticated and leading-edge 2D and 3D animation for cinema screens, television, web, mobile and games consoles.” Sounds like they’re spot on. NmcA 13: AVATAR

- animationireland.com


Game Of Thrones

The Cast Of Cheers

These fertile times for the Northern Irish film industry are perfectly exemplified by the ongoing production of Game Of Thrones, a medieval fantasy drama series due to be shown on HBO in Spring 2011. The series stars Sean Bean, Aidan Gillen (The Wire’s Mayor Carcetti) and Mark Addy (The Full Monty) among others, and filming has centred around the Titanic Paint Hall in Belfast, as well as on location around Northern Ireland. Oh, and Malta and Scotland, but we’ll gloss over that. For a series of that magnitude to be based in Belfast is something to be proud of. CJ

In a bumper year for Dublin’s music scene, one band has stood out above the crowd. Releasing free-todownload album Chariot back in February and then producing a string of the most pulsating live performances the local scene has encountered in years, The Cast Of Cheers went from their front bedrooms to a slot at Berlin Festival in no more than a few months. Abrupt, mind-meltingly energetic and intensely of the moment, the band are currently edging their way from ‘most-likely-to’ status into genuine cult heroes. Witness their utterly manic recent Dublin headline shows, should any evidence be needed. Dance and repent! JH

- hbo.com/game-of-thrones

- thecastofcheers.bandcamp.com



Northern Ireland’s Electronic Music Scene

A video recently appeared on YouTube, a 10 minute excerpt from a Channel 4 TV show in 1993 (bit. ly/belfastdance), which gave an overview of the thenburgeoning Belfast dance music scene, centred around David Holmes’ Sugar Sweet club at the Art College and raves at the Ulster Hall. Later in the Nineties the legendary Shine club ruled the roost, but in the 00s the Northern Irish scene endured something of a fallow period. Lately that has changed with the arrival of the Stiff Kitten club, regular nights like Ecker, Twitch and La Musique in Derry and three local figureheads – techno kingpin Phil Kieran, electrofunk-house prodigy Space Dimension Controller and Derry big-room dance trio The Japanese Popstars. All tour the world, all appear regularly at home. Ambassadors to be proud of. CJ - thejapanesepopstars.co.uk - philkieran.com - myspace.com/spacedimensioncontroller


State Magazine

Having started as a luxurious print magazine, State.ie is now arguably Ireland’s best music website (apart from www.iheartau.com, of course!) Run by Phil Udell, Niall Byrne (whose blog Nialler9 has its own entry on this list) and a host of willing contributors, the site is known for its excellent multimedia content, including regular mixes, mixtapes and a podcast, as well as plenty of well-chosen reviews, features and photosets. Plus, the web design is exemplary. No self-respecting bookmark list should be without it. - state.ie


—51 AU Magazine—

—52 issue 70—

Reason to dance and grin like a maniac, more like. Following the release of their corking debut album, Belfast party band Not Squares tell AU how losing a member allowed them to find a new purpose, and why flying blind is sometimes the best way to go. Words by Chris Jones There’s a slight disconnect between the respectable outward demeanour of Not Squares, and the boisterous, even confrontational music they make. Thirtyish, softly but confidently spoken and extremely well-educated (they comprise a Doctor of Philosophy and two architects – one studying for a PhD himself), you might imagine something altogether more polite than the blistering electro-punk that they have made their name with. A self-described “party band”, their songs are built on piston-like drums, deep bass grooves, simplistic vocal mantras and a head-spinning barrage of synthesisers and electronic effects. But maybe they have had enough of being serious. Keith Winter (drums), Michael Kinloch (bass and synthesisers) and Ricki O’Rawe (likewise) spent their twenties in some of Belfast’s best-loved underground bands. Keith and Michael played in the instrumental rock band Tracer AMC, who released two well-received albums and garnered quite a following in Japan. Michael also played guitar for a time in the melodic indie band Heliopause, who recently released a fine debut album of their own. Ricki, meanwhile, played bass in two of the city’s noisiest bands of recent years – The Killing Spree and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them Gaju, who broke many a Belfast indie kid’s heart when they imploded all too quickly. This time, however, it was to be different. In 2008 a dance-punk party band was born, initially with fourth member Rachel Keenan performing synth duties on her own, and a limited edition cassette EP was sold at gigs, entitled WroK. That was followed by a double A-side 7” single – Ay Yo Pa/IYOUUSIT – but just as things were starting to take off, Keenan emigrated to California and it was back to square one. “I think people wondered what we were going to do,” Michael recalls. “Were we going to turn into a rock band? And it kind of went the other way, which isn’t what anyone was expecting. Like, ‘What are you going to do without your synth player?’” Ricki answers the question: “‘Well, we’re going to learn to play synths!’” “It was a catalyst for change,” Michael explains, “and we had quite a lot of shows booked – quite big shows. We had Latitude [Festival] and a tour booked in England, and it was an intense two weeks – ‘What the hell are we going to do?!’ It was probably the most productive two weeks we’ve ever had.” “We went up to Ards and wrote [album tracks] ‘Asylum’ and ‘Bi Kan Na’ and ‘Don’t Do Nothing’,” Ricki recalls. “Then we went away

and at Latitude we really realised that the songs worked really well. We’d pulled it off.” “It’s a different band now,” says Keith. “You listen back [to the early material] and you think, ‘I’d like to see that band, that would be a nice band to watch’. It’s kind of like Q And Not U, jittery, girl-boy, call-and-response rock, but it was obvious after that week of touring that we needed to become an electronic band. Some kind of weird club band.” Ah yes, electronics. While still a four-piece, the band used a synthesiser but in a rather primitive way, adding electronic embellishment to what were essentially rhythmic post-punk songs. Now Ricki and Michael would both play synths as well as bass guitar, and on several tracks the electronics would now take centre stage. After drooling over and experimenting with the Moogs available in Belfast’s Start Together studio, the trio decided to ditch the idea, dismissing the sound they made as “too pretty”. “We were looking for dirty synth sounds,” says Michael. “It was at that stage that we just sat down and explored the synth that I bought with my student loan when I first went to university,” says Ricki. “This is the first time I’ve got to play it in a band.” “The fact that we kind of didn’t know what we were doing was appealing too,” adds Michael. “Rock bands that don’t really know how to play very well, I find that way more interesting than people who are really proficient, unless it’s really good. And the fact that we were stumbling and maybe doing things that were maybe a big nono in the synth world, if it sounded good to us we’d use it, and that made music exciting again. It was a good time.” The debut album that the band have arrived at, Yeah OK, was recorded over several sessions. Two songs – a re-recording of the band’s early signature song ‘Yeah!’ and album closer ‘53’ – survive from an initial session in the spring of last year, while the other eight tracks were accumulated over the subsequent 18 months. “The older stuff was done before Rachel left, but we’ve been all over the show,” says Michael. “We did bits of drums in Start Together and a lot of vocals and synths and basses in our own houses and different places around Belfast. Bits here and bits there.” If it sounds like a rather piecemeal way of recording an album, that’s because the band appear to have quite a relaxed approach to they way they do things. Not in a lackadaisical, ‘that’ll do’ way, but there is an underlying ethos of fun and experimentation underpinning everything. The double bass guitar idea, for example, was never an idea at all.

“At the start the whole idea behind the band was, ‘Let’s get some people who haven’t really played music together’ – apart from me and Keith,” explains Michael. “I’d played guitar in other bands and decided I didn’t want to play guitar any more, so I grabbed a bass. It didn’t really matter what it was – a lot of the parts could be transposed between bass and synth. So we don’t say, ‘Should we do a song with two basses in it?’, it’s just whatever’s at hand at the time to make a noise.” And everything is born out of jamming? Do you ever sit down and actually write something? “Most of the album is born out of jamming,” says Michael. “Some things are done in bedrooms.” “Everything comes back to the practice room, though,” says Keith. “All of those songs have definitely been played in the practice room and were structured and worked out in the practice room. Which probably goes some way to account for the band’s formidable live reputation, honed over two years of private jamming and public gigging. By the time you read this, the band will have completed three gigs supporting Two Door Cinema Club in Belfast, Galway and Dublin – three of their biggest shows to date – and later in December they embark on a short UK tour before returning to Ireland for two – yes, two – New Year’s Eve shows. First, they support Les Savy Fav at the Button Factory in Dublin, and then they hotfoot it up the M1 for a sweaty, intimate midnight show in Belfast’s Auntie Annie’s. Touring, festivals – including Latitude and Reading & Leeds – and national UK and Irish radio airplay have all helped to spread the word, and the band see the benefit when they play live. Keith recalls, “In Galway they all knew ‘Asylum’ because they play it to death in that Strange Brew club in Roisin Dubh. That was amazing, to watch everyone sing it. Which is great, because at that point we’re all frantic and shattered, so if anyone else want to sing it they’re more than welcome! It’s been very positive, even in Cardiff we had a bunch of kids who were going nuts, and progressively through the set you could see the wide-eyed riot dance forming. Somewhere between pogo and punchbag!” With the album out, initial reactions good and a Japanese release planned, Belfast’s brainy party boys are set to take the wide-eyed riot dance far and wide. Yeah OK is out now on Richter Collective Stream and buy the album at notsquares.bandcamp.com

—53 AU Magazine—





As Ireland finds itself crippled by an economic crisis, it is also amidst the beginning of a big wave surfing gold rush. It is in the cold, dark depths of winter that it really comes alive. A far cry from the sunny beach boy life of Hawaii, conditions are fickle as it is tough to get the right combination of swell and wind. When everything falls into place, though, there is a small network of dedicated surfers that exists across Ireland who group together to surf these waves, which can be as big as three or four-storey buildings. These are truly exciting times for the surf scene in Ireland: it’s just possible that the world’s first 60ft wave could be ridden off our own coastline. GMcC




Smalltown America Records

—54 issue 70—

Glasgowbury Turns Ten.

The Draperstown festival tends to be less small and more massive with each passing year. For its tenth edition, Fighting With Wire manned headline duties, making up for their cancellation last year. A long-awaited live return ahead of their follow-up to 2008’s Man Vs Monster was a typically raucous and gleefully-received performance. Other highlights saw LaFaro and Fight Like Apes showcase their new albums, And So I Watch You From Afar return to these shores for their slot as the most widely known ‘secret guests’ in recent memory and, of course, the traditional laughing at first-timers who think that, as it’s a sunny day in July, jumpers wont be necessary atop the Sperrin Mountains. JB

2010 was another big year for Derry’s Smalltown America Records. Let by Jetplane Landing frontman Andrew Ferris, the label followed the success of 2009’s debut album by And So I Watch You From Afar with a series of prominent Northern Irish releases – long-awaited debut albums from LaFaro and Skibunny, a debut EP from newcomers More Than Conquerors as well as releases from Illness, Alan MX and Crooked Mountain, Crooked Sea. Expect more of the same next year, the first half of which will feature follow-up albums and intense touring from LaFaro, Fighting With Wire and ASIWYFA. Now all we need is for Jetplane to reform properly… CJ - smalltownamerica.co.uk

Big wave surfing


- glasgowbury.com


Northern Ireland’s Golfers

Golf doesn’t usually feature much in AU. It’s a bit, you know, boring – a good walk spoiled, an’ all that. That was until this year, when it got very, very interesting. Firstly, we took a twisted delight in seeing just how many ladies would crawl out of the woodwork to dish their dirt on poor ol’ sex-addicted Tiger Woods (think of a number and then double it). Secondly, and getting back to all things Irish, Northern Ireland’s golfers took the world by storm. Not only did Portrush’s Graeme McDowell win his first major tournament – the US Open at the notoriously difficult Pebble Beach course – but he also bagged the crucial point, by having his putt conceded (we are totally digging the lingo), that won the Ryder Cup for Europe and, just before we went to press, he overcame a four-shot, final-day deficit to beat that





Music blogger Nialler9’s reach and influence is spreading further than these bankrupt shores and it’s all down to his superhuman ability to tip his readers off about new music and music news several light-years before his contemporaries. Dublin-based Niall Byrne eats, sleeps and dreams music. His taste is impeccable and spans many genres from electronica, hip-hop, indie, rock, pop, dubstep, electro, grime – you get the picture. And that’s without mentioning the excellent Nialler9 podcast. This year he also travelled to South Africa to bring us Shangaan electro and namecheck some fine homegrown bands, so we can only wait to discover what musical delights he has in store for us in 2011. TC - nialler9.com


The Richter Collective

Irish DIY champions the Richter Collective will remember 2010 as a year of spectacular music and humble growth. Amongst this year’s releases are an EP from Logikparty and albums from The Redneck Manifesto, Not Squares, The Continuous Battle of Order, Enemies, Jogging and Worrier, while Adebisi Shank’s second album took the trio to Japan once more. They’ve developed the business side too, with in-house publishing staff and an official partnership with UK manufacturers DMS. “Our model has been to do what you can with what you have at the time,” says label head Mick Roe. “I read that investment in feelgood films has gone through the roof. People will go in droves just to escape reality. Arts can do well in a recession. People say, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to listen to music today instead of worrying about the economy’. Richter digital releases cost about five Euro and you can listen online for free. Everyone can afford free.” KA - richtercollective.com


man Woods in a play-off at the Chevron World Challenge. Incredible. Then there was Rory McIlroy – the 21-year old from Holywood set the golfing world on fire by winning his first tournament on the US PGA tour (good), ending the year ranked in the world’s Top 10 (great) and sporting a ridiculous mop of curly locks (we suspect it is fake hair sewn into his cap). Actually we like his hair, it means he must have a sense of humour, and it gave golf fans the world over another use for their Harry Enfield ‘Scouser’ wigs. And it wasn’t just the dynamic duo – Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin, Ballymoney man Michael Hoey and a rejuvenated Darren Clarke all ‘chipped in’ (we just cannot help ourselves) with some great golf. If McDowell doesn’t win the BBC’s Sports Personality Of The Year, we have been robbed. JF

—56 issue 70—

ethin Som

g Good Can W ork :

The irresistible rise of…

Two Door Cinema Club

Three young lads from Bangor began the year with high hopes, but surely nothing could have fully prepared them for what 2010 would have in store. A successful album, sell-out, celebrity-attended shows in the USA and a triumphant festival summer have made them Northern Ireland’s biggest musical export since Snow Patrol. In the week that they made their Jools Holland debut, AU met up with the band in Dublin for a hectic day of radio sessions, and their first appearance on RTE’s legendary Late Late Show. Words by James Hendicott Photography by Lili Forberg Jet lag. That ‘thing’ that happened in Chicago. Pool parties. Celebrity hangouts. Groupies, Dawn French and Jools Holland. Spend five minutes with Two Door Cinema Club, and it’s clear that their ever-growing status as ‘rock stars’ is something that still dominates their dialogue; still fills them with childlike awe. Their conversations twist and bounce, the happy in-joke banter of a group of inseparable childhood friends. Singer Alex Trimble – a man who can’t go 10 minutes without strumming his guitar nonchalantly – plays off the group’s joker, bassist Kevin Baird, who’s determined to gas the tour manager out of the van with a bad case of flatulence he refers to as his ‘American gas’. Sam Halliday, the quietest of the bunch, tends to sit calmly and take it all in, occasionally cutting in with a pointed quip or off-hand reference. The vibe – Kevin’s gassy contribution aside – is of three down-to-earth lads who are determined to make the most of a mammoth opportunity, but, equally importantly, to have the time of their lives doing it.

At the turn of the year these three ‘boy next door’ rockers were labelled as ‘on the brink’; the Northern Irish music industry’s great white hope, endorsed by the BBC, NME and of course AU. The Bangor lads – mischievously named after Sam’s inability to pronounce the name of their local Tudor Cinema – were yet to even put out an album. Those pre-album-release support tours in early 2010 were the calm before a thunderous storm; come March, debut Tourist History was about to put a big, red, danceable indie-pop mark on Ireland’s music map. The journey that has taken Two Door Cinema Club from local heroes to internationally hyped gold-record owners has seen them flog nearly 100,000 albums, appear on numerous TV shows and become the talk of Ireland’s biggest festival. With 240 shows to be squeezed in before the end of this year on four different continents, supporting The Maccabees in Dublin’s 1000 capacity, half-empty Academy just under a year ago must seem a distant memory.

—57 AU Magazine—

While the group never forget to mention their time at home – performances at Oxegen and Reading are still fondly discussed – their new international experiences inevitably jump to the fore: “Japan was crazy; really intense. In Korea they stuck us with two dozen sweaty journalists in a room for half a day, and other than that we only saw the festival site. We don’t even know where it was. Everything takes twice as long as it all has to be translated, but just being there is unreal.” Looking to America has always been a major landmark for musicians. “We want to make it everywhere, but making it in America would make life a whole lot easier,” admits Alex. Getting their music on TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and reaching number one on the Hype Machine blog aggregator has cracked the door to a substantial market, one that allows them to head off elsewhere and avoid saturating the British and Irish gig-going public. Candid as ever, Two Door review their American experience with mixed feelings.

—58 issue 70—

“New York and LA were big sell-outs, and they were superb. Some other places, though, we were playing to almost empty rooms. In Kansas City, for example, we had to wait until an hour before the show to set up because a kid’s birthday party hadn’t finished. We don’t mind, though, you can’t expect to sell out somewhere the first time you play”. The work ethic is relentless: a week after the American tour, three days off are bracketed by an appearance on Later… with Jools Holland and today’s Late Late Show outing. In two days’ time, the next tour begins. Problems with jetlag aside, feelings towards the schedule are overwhelmingly positive: being busy means going places. Today, though, is all about the well-worn promotion trail. Whilst a year ago that might have meant scrabbling around for a little press attention and fielding questions from journalists who have only the vaguest familiarity with their music, these days Two Door are in high demand.

Spending a day cruising Dublin’s radio stations before finishing up with an evening performance on Irish television institution The Late Late Show is as much as they can cram in, but it’s not for a lack of requests. Being from Northern Ireland and not owning televisions, only tour drummer Ben has ever seen today’s biggie, The Late Late Show; we opt not to tell them the average viewership is around 15% of the Republic’s population: 650,000 potential fans is a whole lot of pressure. Like most bands, promos are not something Two Door particularly enjoys. Kevin starts the day by telling us, “If I make it to the end without getting angry or frustrated it’s been a good promo day,” and jokingly gives out about the “torture” of an atrocious promo session in Japan that came in at an excruciating four days. Despite their apprehension about the media spotlight, the happy demeanour never slips, and the closest we see to an ego is Alex’s continuous but very

“It’s incredible, the landmarks just keep coming. Every one’s worth celebrating. We can’t take it for granted.”


sarcastic requests to keep his on-loan acoustic guitar. The acoustic side is something Two Door rarely bring out in live shows. Alex is a collector of original Fender Bullets, a make of guitar he became obsessed with after borrowing one from Phoenix’s Laurent Brancowitz when on tour with the French band earlier this year. Despite the first-edition version being produced for only one year – eight years before his birth – he has already managed to acquire four, and intends to collect a whole load more (“They’re cheap on eBay as nobody knows what they are, but they sound great”). When it comes to the radio shows, though, the tiny studio spaces mean set-ups must be acoustic. Visiting Phantom FM, Spin and finally RTE’s 2FM, the three-piece disappear into padded boxes and produce stunning rearranged versions of ‘Undercover Martyn’, ‘I Can Talk’, ‘Something

Good Can Work’ and ‘Cigarettes In The Theatre’, each minus the electronic trickery. Performances like these toned-down radio shows emphasise the musicianship: the songs are at least as strong when tweaked and mellowed, emphasized with ‘oohs’ rather than bleeps and strummed subtly. Alex’s voice is given the chance to shine, and it’s utterly outstanding, yet for all the professionalism there’s also a laidback charm: you can still picture the group practising in their bedrooms trying not to wake their parents. The Late Late Show is a different story. Two Door have never mimed before, and while Alex will be singing live, both Sam and Kevin express their discomfort at faking the guitar and bass parts. Two Door have always come across as comfortingly genuine, and the option of removing strings from the guitars – or doing something else to make the miming obvious – is briefly thrown around along with banter about Muse’s line-up alterations while



miming on an Italian show. The scale of the show in the Republic eventually tips the balance. Playing under the studio lights is an experience they later describe as “one of the weirdest ‘performances’ ever; we have no idea how it went. How can you even measure that?” Things can’t have been too bad; the Twittersphere explodes, and the walk back to the dressing room includes Dawn French rushing out of a locked door to greet them. Six to eight months ago, something like the Late Late might have been life-changing, but shooting through Dublin’s backstreets in Kevin’s people carrier ten minutes later, tonight’s TV appearance barely warrants discussion. It’s this relaxed take on life that often comes to the fore. The walk from the dressing room to the TV studio at RTE saw Kevin coolly strumming a bit of Hendrix before being silenced by the studio runners. Back at the radio stations, the band showed the effect of playing together every day for months on end:

—59 AU Magazine—



Two Door’s highlights of 2010: Best Show – “There have been so many. Playing the second stage at Glastonbury was amazing, it’s great to go back and see how it changes year on year. The main stage at Oxegen, coming out and seeing 40,000 people was special, too. And Reading. Reading was one of the best shows of our lives. The benchmark just keeps getting higher through the year.” Most Rock And Roll Moment – “We broke into the rooftop pool of a hotel in Melbourne at 3am. That was great. But everything’s so surreal; you’re never really taken aback by anything that happens. It takes going home and telling people about it for someone to stop you and say “your life’s ridiculous”. Best City – “It’s a really weird answer, but we loved Brighton. You’d expect us to say somewhere really exotic. So many places are really cool. We loved Seattle, too, in part because the first time we were there we hated it. If something bad happens, you automatically associate it with the city. Brighton’s a feel-good place. You never really see much in each place, though. It’s just a quick taster.” Most Interest Celeb – “Prince Charles? The most surreal one was when we met Guy-Ma from Daft Punk. They came back stage at our show in Paris. Anybody can sing you a Daft Punk song but nobody has any idea who he is to look at. I could only concentrate on how small he was. We haven’t met all that many big celebs. We met Will Farrell, and watched the World Cup Final next to Jay-Z.” Key Touring Lessons – “We’ve learnt to speak slower. At first in Japan, and in America, we found that people just didn’t understand us. We’ve also grown in confidence a lot. There’ve been bad shows, but we’ve really gelled as a unit over the year. It’s inevitable when you play so much together.” —60 issue 70—



nearly every pre-recorded track was reeled out immaculately in the first take. Tuning up, though, involved a tongue-in-cheek rendition of Toto’s Africa (“we’ll bring it out on the next tour”). Even the production of an unrehearsed Christmas song at the last minute was considered, though it is shot down by a media-savvy band manager after the station suggests Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, a track to which Alex only knows the chorus. The nerves that made early live shows a touch uncomfortable have largely faded, but the sense of appreciation surrounding newfound stardom still shines through. “It took us a long time to actually think we’d make it,” says Alex. “Signing the record deal didn’t feel like a turning point. We did it in Kevin’s parents’ kitchen, which shows where we were at that point. Releasing the album – and seeing it do well – was perhaps the biggest moment. But it’s incredible, the landmarks just keep coming. Every one’s worth celebrating. We can’t take it for granted”. After a year like 2010, you could be forgiven for suggesting that the traditionally difficult second album could be a cloud hanging over the newcomers. Not so: “The tours are great, but they’re relentless,” the singer continues. “Our lives are basically on tour or in the studio, and it’s been forever since we were in the studio. People keeping asking us about pressure, but we’re not feeling it that much. We’re just looking forward to it. The new album will be a chance to show how we’ve evolved.” Having just released an enhanced version of Tourist History, the next step will be to write some songs on tour, but the more substantial moves towards album number two will get underway come April. One track has already been penned, and will feature in the upcoming shows. It’s an ode to Alex’s experiences in a London backstreet, where he was threatened by a drugged up local with a

broken bottle. It has yet to be named. The rest of the album is likely to follow a similar lead: while Tourist History explored their hometown of Bangor in County Down, the follow-up will take on a more expansive, global theme that reflects the group’s experiences over the last year or so. As for the long term, Two Door’s upwards trajectory of sell-out shows and international attention shows no sign of abating: even NME treated the band with a certain amount of respect on their second encounter (“First time it was like we had to pass a test. They were quite hostile in their questioning and acted very indifferent. The second time one of the journalists met us, they said, ‘I can be nice now, you’ve done your first feature’.”). It’s a building process, but should Two Door end up in stadiums, they wouldn’t change a lot. “We like to connect with our audience, and keep things simple,” says Alex. “If we had a U2esque level of budget, we might add some extra live backing and a few stage props, but we like to keep things clean cut. Our music’s designed for dancing, and you need to connect with the crowd. We want to show them a bit of our personality.” As three lads in their early 20s with an enviable talent and – perhaps even more importantly – love for what they do, the latest focus has been quietly different but markedly defined: longevity. With a legion of new fans behind them, things are a far cry from the slightly shy up-and-coming act that was Two Door Cinema Club just a year ago. Come December, when they are presented with their Irish gold record on stage at their Dublin show, the celebrations will include at least one eye on a platinum future. Two Door Cinema Club play the Mandela Hall, Belfast on December 7, Tripod, Dublin on December 8 and Black Box, Galway on December 9 www.twodoorcinemaclub.com

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


pg 61 Record Reviews | pg 67 Live Reviews |pg 68 Unsigned Universe

Illustration by Mark Reihill

Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy MERCURY

Is there such a genre as progressive hip hop? Well, there certainly is now and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is its first masterpiece. So good is it, in fact, that Pitchfork’s self-appointed arbiters of musical taste awarded a flawless 10/10 score. Smitten as I am, I can’t quite bring myself to say that it's without fault. However, if not perfection itself, then perhaps it is, at least, the perfect record for our attention-deficit generation, and Kanye the ultimate icon for these fame-obsessed times. He continuously sheds his skin, renewing himself in each interview and on every record. He is whatever you want him to be: the geeky MidWestern kid, fashion icon, the saviour of hip-hop, false prophet, girl interrupter, egoist… the most compelling pop star in the whole goddamn world. ...Twisted Fantasy encapsulates his multi-layered personality. Like a downtrodden immigrant in search of a better life, boundaries are jumped with impunity – rock, disco, funk, soul, electro, hip-hop – all genres are grist to Kanye’s musical

mill. Sounds are gobbled up and regurgitated, narratives are fractured, multiple and contradictory perspectives offered up. Suffice to say, on first listen it is an overpowering, brain-frazzling experience. It’s ostentatious and ingenious, crammed with more treasures than the Louvre. That the album reputedly cost in the region of three million dollars to record comes as no surprise. It takes a certain full-blooded insanity to go as far out on the ledge as Yeezy does here. However, he’s not the only inmate in the asylum and the record benefits from some excellent guest contributions. Nicki Minaj delivers a scene-stealing turn on the raucous and heavy ‘Monster’, wresting the limelight not only from Kanye, but also Jay-Z and Rick Ross. Meanwhile a battalion of celebrity buddies – Rihanna, Elton, Alicia Keys, Fergie, La Roux, to name but several – shoulder-charge their way into the midst of the clattering hornsand-beats bonanza that is ‘All Of The Lights’. Elsewhere, John Legend’s celestial soulfulness and the horn-dog narration of Chris Rock bookend the brilliant ‘Blame Game’, whilst Bon Iver – with his auto-tuned voice – brings joyousness to the skittering electro of ‘Lost In The World’. Throughout, Kanye’s wordplay is taut and to the point – perhaps honed by all that tweeting he does. West is clearly a conflicted individual. Like poor old Oscar, he’s rolling around in the gutter but

eyeing the heavens, driven, as ‘Hell Of A Life’ makes explicitly clear, by “pussy and religion”. It is the contradictions he encapsulates that make Kanye West so captivating. On ‘All Of The Lights’ he revels in the glow of “cop lights, flash lights...” and, of course, “spotlights”. At times his egoism becomes so gargantuan that he seeks to elevate himself to the level of a god. However, no sooner has he put himself on that exalted pedestal than he’s tearing it down. On the symphonic-electro of ‘Runaway’ he lambasts himself as a “douche-bag”, “asshole”, and “scumbag”. Driven by tribal chanting and an inspired King Crimson sample, ‘POWER’ begins with Kanye declaring himself master of our times, a “superhero”. It ends with our ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ contemplating “a beautiful death”. West recently confessed to suicidal thoughts, but says that he felt he had more to give, that he had a responsibility as a “soldier for culture” to continue the good fight. With ...Twisted Fantasy, Kanye can consider his duties honorably discharged. Francis Jones



Fujiya & Miyagi Ventriloquizzing FULL TIME HOBBY

White Lies Ritual FICTION

White Lies’ second album pretty much begins where To Lose My Life left off. So opening track ‘Is Love’ starts with a quietly ominous Nuremburg stomp, a few mandolins and a vocal and lyric straight from the snowy wastes of Kilimanjaro. You could almost hear a teardrop explode… Ritual is as good a title as any for an album that invokes the full almanac of nocturnal, tasteful post-punk posturing. The chorus to standout track ‘Strangers’ reveals: “I’ve got a sense of urgency. I’ve got to make it happen. No stone unturned.” And that could indeed be a mission statement of sorts for Ritual. From Julian Cope to the Icicle Works to Depeche Mode, dropping off at Gary Numan, Psychedelic Furs and even Tangerine Dream, it’s a frantic whistle-

stop trawl through one of the better Ashes To Ashes soundtracks. Fortunately, in dark-rock veteran Alan Moulder, they’ve bagged exactly the right kind of producer to bring a cool economy and sense of immediacy to the epic likes of ‘The Power and Glory’. Annoyingly, the one band White Lies aren’t like is Joy Division, whose indefinable ethereal essence has been brutishly misshapen into cynical media shorthand for any bunch of callow youths with guitars, keyboards and a frown. For all their ‘50 shades of monochrome’ styling, White Lies are essentially crafters of catchy conventional guitar melody. Smile boys – you’re rather good at it. Joe Nawaz


Halves It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever)

My Pilot Spiders EP



Over two albums so far, Brighton’s Fujiya & Miyagi have fashioned a nice little spot for themselves, based on gently propulsive motorik rhythms (now courtesy of drummer Lee Adams rather than a drum machine), clipped funk and the peculiarly deadpan vocals of David Best. Guess what? All are still present and correct. However, that doesn’t mean that Ventriloquizzing is a mere retread of Transparent Things or Lightbulbs. For the first time they've used an external producer – Thom Monahan, best known for his work with folk acts Devendra Banhart, Au Revoir Simone and Vetiver. His influence isn’t immediately obvious, but a shift in mood is. Often somewhat whimsical, this time there is a sombre undercurrent to the band’s Krauty pop songs, and plenty of organ and piano as well as synthesisers (or maybe it’s an organ setting – either way it’s moody). Best’s fondness for non-sequiturs remains, with lots of appropriated clichés (“You don’t know what side your bread is buttered on / Has the cat got your tongue?”) and even a nod to ‘You Got The Love’ on ‘Tinsel & Glitter’, which begins with the frontman murmuring, “Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air”. It all adds up to a typically off-kilter pop record, but one with more emotional pull than before, and after three albums that is to be welcomed. Chris Jones


The Walkmen Lisbon BELLA UNION

2008’s You and Me was the absolute zenith of that year’s clench-fisted, heart-wrenching musical manifestos. That collection of impassioned missives from the frontline of heartbreak made The Walkmen the best band you’d never heard of. How to follow that universally revered album and the new-found weight of expectation? Easy – go to Lisbon for inspiration, let the Iberian sunshine permeate a little, then turn in 11 songs of immediacy and cockle-pleasing warmth.

This is a fine achievement indeed from Irish trio Halves, with guests including Amy Millan and the Kilkenny Choir on hand to turn these inventive, mysterious songs into things of great beauty. The contrast between the stunning, urgent drumming and serene piano and strings on ‘Blood Branches’ calls to mind Godspeed You! Black Emperor (whose Efrim Menuck recorded this album at Hotel2Tango in Montreal) at their best; indeed the novel use of percussion throughout the album is masterful, each track obviously built with great care and precision. This obsessive attention to detail is reminiscent of Takki-era Sigur RÓs, especially on the beautiful closer ‘Mountain Bell’, with its warm electric pianos, glockenspiels, strings and soaring guitars. Niall Harden

This debut EP from the Dublin-based quartet was recorded in singer-guitarist Neill Dougan’s bedroom. He may have been short on space, but Spiders is heroic in scope and songcraft. Opener ‘Man Vs. Machine’ possesses a tense, part-garage rock, part No Wave grumble while ‘Self-Medication Blues’ oozes paranoia and a nagging melody. Just as the pigeon-holing description of ‘lo-fi’ flickers to mind, the epic ‘Paddy Sez’ evokes the sonic mainlining of Spacemen 3 at their finest. By the time some grainy feedback, which closes the gnarled Americana of the title track, fades into the ether, a lithe and expansive talent has been revealed. John Freeman

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Right from the off, with the familiar chiming cascade of ‘Juveniles’, The Walkmen aren’t exactly keeping it soufflé-light on their sixth album, but there are shades of levity that were mostly absent from the sweeping, melancholia of its acclaimed predecessor. The band plays with a fluidity to produce a cohesive, cogent cacophony of tightly-sprung noise. Even the ever-so-slight and occasional similarity of singer Hamilton’s voice to that of the Stereophonics' Kelly Jones can’t impair the feel-good factor here. It’s not You and Me II – perfection can’t be serialised. Rather, Lisbon is its own thing – an affecting and effective album, sunny side up. Joe Nawaz


French Horn Rebellion The Infinite Music Of French Horn Rebellion ONCE UPON A TIME

French Horn Rebellion’s debut completely defies classification. ‘House-inflected electro-pop’ partly covers it – although that scarcely does justice to an album that shows little regard for genre boundaries. Much of the album bursts with pop hooks, such as the aching, melancholy ‘Last Summer’, while the thumping ‘Brasilia Girl’ – featuring a rampaging sub-bass line – is a thrill. But there are moments of introspection here too, such as the comedown coda of ‘Mawson’s Peak’ and album centrepiece ‘Antarctic/The Decision’, which is partly an ambient piano 'n' synth piece (and really quite lovely), and partly a truly strange, clanging, atonal slice of musique concrète. Nothing if not ambitious, it’s testament to French Horn Rebellion that the execution of The Infinite Music... largely matches their lofty intentions. Neill Dougan


Tanlines Volume On FAMILY EDITION

Credentials at the door here: one of the Tanlines duo was in Don Caballero, the seminal math rock band that also provided Battles' guitar virtuoso. You'd never tell, on the evidence of this everything-so-far compilation. They make Brooklynite electro-pop, dance music for the most self-conscious of dancefloor settings. The type of tropical rhythms they favour will be acceptable and even familiar to the indie crowd by now, but they're too often perturbed by preset-sounding synths doing uninspired synth-pop stuff. 'Bees' is an exception, giving the keys a break and instead taking the hit-or-miss stripped calypso route. It's probably the best song here, as a result. 'S.A.W.' has the opposite problem, grafting an electronic song onto a decent tropical groove and robbing it of its syncopated lull. But on the bright side, if you're into albums with four different versions of the same song ('Real Life') by bands that haven't done a studio full-length yet, you're in the right place. Karl McDonald


Scientist Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space TECTONIC

It was always going to be intriguing hearing one of the most highly-regarded dub mixers of all time take on tracks by dubstep artists he clearly influenced in a major way. Hopeton Brown’s career began at dub kingpin King Tubby’s

studios in Jamaica and it’s seen him work with everyone from the Roots Radics to Jah Thomas. This double disc LP showcases Brown’s take on tracks from Shackleton to Kode9 and from King Midas Sound to Guido. He adds a few layers to Shackleton’s menacing ‘Hackney Marshes’, sticks an iron girder up the backside of Guido’s ‘Korg Back’ and juggles Distance’s ‘Ill Kontent’ up into the stratosphere, unearthing a new level of paranoia. The dub icon even manages to inject an extra druggy vibe to Tectonic label boss Pinch’s ‘2012’ with Emika and then somehow makes the Spaceape sound even more abstract than on the original ‘Abeng’ with Kode9. If these tracks are already way out there, Scientist’s remixes take them into the woods. Adam Lacey


Meljoann Squick BOY SCOUT AUDIO

Following the release of the blogger's delight that was the Tour Guide EP, Dublin's Meljoann presents Squick, her first long-player. Like all good party planners, she’s conjured up an eclectic and, at times, fractious mix of guests. Eighties synths jostle alongside funk-driven bass, soul man weeps in a darkened corner, whilst pure pop melody tries to make itself heard above the din. Apparently this multi-faceted sound is known in Scandinavia - where it’s the hot new sound - as 'skweee'. Whatever you call it, it’s easy to admire the dexterity with which Meljoann manages to keep all her sonic plates spinning. Unfortunately, at times, tunefulness is martyred in the name of experimentation. For the most part, though, the results prove arresting; ‘Reptilian’ setting up a winning contrast between harsh synthetic clatter and hazy vocal, whilst ‘Forward Dream’ brings proceedings to a lovely, languid close. Francis Jones


Talons Hollow Realm BIG SCARY MONSTERS

Coming off sold-out splits with ASIWYFA and Noumenon last year, and increasingly becoming the subject of adoration in the blogosphere, Hereford's Talons are an exciting proposition lashing out at just the right time, with a bracing combination of post-rock atmospherics, hardcore urgency and mathematical structural nuances. Hollow Realm sees the band let loose, playfully diving around moods and exploring their ideas, such as the invigorating album opener 'St. Mary Will Be The Death Of Us All', investing beautiful guitar work and energetic performance with cutting, defiant strings. 'In the Shadows of Our

Stilted Homes' broods wonderfully, moody but involving, while 'Iris' moves along deftly, subdued yet lively, toward a compelling crescendo. Thrilling, inspiring, intelligent stuff from a band sure to become a staple of independent music for years to come. Mike McGrath-Bryan


Mark Sultan $ LAST GANG

Mark Sultan is one of the two greatest exponents of garage rock, doo-wop and soul alive today. Fortunately the other is his musical life-partner King Khan. Through their collaborations, King Khan & BBQ Show and The Shrines, they have released some of the most genuinely thrilling albums of the last 10 years. Solo, it’s a case of more of the same from Sultan, despite his protests of new directions. Don’t believe a word. ‘Ten Of Hearts’ sounds like Little Anthony & The Imperials, ‘I Get Nothin’ From My Girl’ could be a Rick Nelson A-side from his London heyday and ‘I’ll Be Lovin’ You’ will remind you of The Contours. Best of all is ‘Status’, a typically immediate blast of garage rock, peppered with a percussive racket, like the sound of two dozen tone-deaf orphans banging their bowls on the tables of the workhouse. A beautiful noise. Kenny Murdock


Twin Shadow Forget 4AD

George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, is the latest young(ish) starlet to take his place in the studly stable of 4AD. His debut album is a hugely selfconfident affair, so much so that when Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor (who also co-produced) first heard the demos, he declared the songs practically ready to go. It helps also that, in the main, it’s a richly accomplished collection of songs. Forget begins with a killer one-two-three opening salvo of cybernetic funk balladry, which of course it can’t sustain over 11 tracks. But when it’s good, it’s ravishingly so. Two parts dream pop to one part Eighties dance workout, it makes for a soporific yet sustaining listen. In ‘I Can’t Wait’, Lewis Jr even takes time out to show us what New Order might have sounded like if fronted by Edwyn Collins. For a man with a selfconfessed mission to make big, irresistible pop music to be heard beyond the indie ghetto, he’s made impressively assured first steps. Joe Nawaz



God Is An Astronaut Age Of The Fifth Sun REVIVE

Age Of The Fifth Sun, the fifth album to date from Wickow’s finest, is both a great leap forward and a distillation of everything that makes their back catalogue so compelling. The layers of sinuous, experimental textures that characterised their darkest effort, Far From Refuge, return to snake around the soaring melancholic/euphoric synth melodies perfected on previous career highlight All Is Violent, All Is Bright. While the sound is familiar, the band have really upped their game both in composition and execution, no longer feeling the need to lob the kitchen sink into every track. Aching ambient pieces, explosive postrock builders and moody key-led odysseys are dispatched with equal aplomb. It might just be their masterpiece. Lee Gorman


Strands Strands CASINO GRAVITY

Halfset's Steve Shannon goes forth with his first solo album under the Strands moniker. To call this album electro-pop is selling it short because Strands is almost neo-classical, with folk elements and the odd electronic beat. Comparisons to the likes of Steve Reich do ring true; the layered compositions are quite Reichian in their structure, with 'Framed' and 'Chow Bell' in particular being perfect examples of the similarity to one of modern classical’s great composers. 'Tremor' has a mesmerising pattern to its structure that is quite hypnotic and the horns on 'Awake' are reminiscent of Danish alt-folkers Efterklang, coupled with the ethereal feel that group captures so well. With Strands, Shannon has created a thing of ponderous beauty. Let’s hope there is more to come. Patrick Fennelly


Various Artists This Is UK Grime AVALANCHE

This is not UK grime. Or rather, this isn't the grime that fans know and love. This is the scrubbed-up post-Tinchy Stryder/Chipmunkas-chart-toppers version of the genre; grime as Americanised consumer product as opposed to an inspired, defiantly British reaction to living in pre-regeneration East London. The compilers, for —64 issue 70—

whatever reason, have decided that 90 seconds of each song is enough and this, coupled with the oddly low bitrate the tracks have been mastered at, leads to the whole thing sounding like a collection of YouTube rips being played on a Nokia on the back of a bus. Don't get me wrong, there are a few very talented MCs and producers represented here, but for every D Double E and Tempa T (who's 'Bad 2 Tha Bone' and 'Next Hype' respectively provide the highlights) there's a third rate rapper lazily 'sending' for another third-rater. To be reductive about it, this is the grime album mums will buy their 14-year-olds for Christmas. Not for the heads. Josh Baines


Various Artists Bangs & Works Vol. 1 (A Chicago Footwork Compilation) PLANET MU

Planet Mu has put together a fine collection of twitching high-tempo tracks designed to get young Americans to kick, hop and wriggle to. Footwork is a growing Chicago style related to ghetto tech and jit, with heavy bass, cranked drum machines and raw synths. The thing that sets this sub-genre of bangers apart from others is its skeletal, nagging style. The arrangements are typically sparse; with bpms often set to maximum itch. There are occasional bouts of smoothness which are hacked up and thrown back into abstract forms before getting back into stutter mode, and the samples are all pitched up and clipped to obscure their original sources (some sources are obvious – but they've been well warped before being served back). Bangs & Works Vol. 1 will irritate some with its helium vocals, but it will rock many with its weighty rhythms. Barry Cullen


Dreamend So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES

Previously a member of Chicago bleep-dweebs Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dreamend is Ryan Graveface’s neo-folk vehicle. However, not merely a set of strummy noodlings, this debut album is a sinister Blair Witch Project awash with imagery of an Oedipal bogeyman. Inspired by the diaries of a local serial killer, much of So I Ate Myself... ripples with mandolin, spectral percussion and uneasy acoustic jauntiness – like an album of nervous laughter – while outlining the parable of a madman’s descent into murderous violence. Opener ‘Pink Cloud In The Woods’ is bright and carefree - all bells, tinkling piano and sampled chirrups - but the gargantuan 10-minute closer ‘An Admission’ is

an unflinching outline of a fractured mind full of swirling drums and insane percussion effects. Gorgeous, bold and utterly unnerving. John Freeman


Engineers In Praise Of More KSCOPE

A number of line-up changes have occurred since Engineers’ previous outing – the exquisitely lush Three Fact Finder. The departure of Dan MacBean and Andrew Sweeney was soon followed by the addition of Ulrich Schnauss on synthesizers. This is perhaps why In Praise Of More is a much more grounded collection than its predecessor. While the harmonised vocals remain a prominent factor throughout, the guitar-soaked shoegaze impulses that coloured Engineers initially have been replaced by a more regimented and subtle sound that unfortunately lacks the spark of previous efforts. There are flashes of greatness in the synth-flavoured ‘To An Evergreen’ and brooding closer ‘Nach Hause’, but after taking us to an atmospheric summit in the past, this is ultimately a disappointment. Mickey Ferry


Gregory And The Hawk Leche FAT CAT

After 2008’s gorgeous Moenie And Kitchi, New Yorker Meredith Godreau and her Hawks have collaborated with their Big Apple buddies (most notably Mice Parade’s Adam Pierce) on this sumptuous, if unadventurous, followup. Godreau’s Vega-like lilt and cosy acoustic guitar still dominate, but the distant drone of ‘Frebreight’ hints at a tormented experimentation - like a gentle sister to R.E.M.’s ‘Let Me In’. Alas, it’s a momentary sojourn into the unexpected, and while ‘Leaves’ chugs along nicely and ‘Puller Returns’ elegantly recycles the chorus of Cutting Crew’s horrific ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’, much of Leche is very, very nice and just a teensy bit underwhelming. Godreau is a huge talent who needs a polite shove out of her comfort zone. John Freeman




Apparently when Not Squares first wrote their seven-minute techno-punk juggernaut ‘Release The Bees’, they knew instantly that it had to be first track on this debut album. It certainly leaves the listener in no doubt as to the Belfast trio’s intentions – you will dance, and you will get sweaty – but it’s something of a red herring, and the one track most indebted to the dancefloor. Recorded over a period of more than a year, both before and after the loss of fourth member Rachel Keenan, the band cover a lot of stylistic ground. ‘Don’t Do Nothing’, ‘Asylum’ and ‘Bi Kan Na’ are dance-punk rave-ups built around a thumping rhythm section and repetitive, sometimes nonsensical chanting, but some of the more recent additions are the most interesting. ‘Smith & Carlos’ rejoices in a lovely, loping groove, while the fabulous ‘Ojos Para Volar’ takes its sweet time but eventually hits hard, with a dreamy falsetto vocal playing against the propulsive bassline. Then there’s the turbocharged ‘In Front’, full of crunch and menace. What is most impressive is how the band have translated their deliriously intense live form into the studio and – with the help of Vinny McCreith of Adebisi Shank and The Vinny Club – augmented that bug-eyed urgency with a raft of neon electronic textures, giving the songs depth and vibrancy. Up close is still where Not Squares are at their best, but with Yeah OK the band have proven their compositional and production credentials as well. Chris Jones


Let's Wrestle In The Court Of The Wrestling Let’s FULL TIME HOBBY

There's such a thing as 'record collector rock', music made by people who've listened to lots of records, for people who listen to lots of records. It frequently descends into a safari of musical influences, completely devoid of any actual substance. Let’s Wrestle avoid this trap by utilising a subtle sense of humour and a genuine enthusiasm for the bands they rip off. And let’s be honest – this isn’t really an homage, it’s blatant plagiarism. If at any point you think you’re listening to Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., mid-period Blur or any other number of midNineties musical luminaries, then you’ve just been identified as Let's Wrestle's target audience. And it’s fun – gloriously messy, indulgent fun. There’s some real heartfelt sentiments in here, alongside all the wry asides and cooler-than-thou moments of apparent disinterest. But they definitely lose points for incorrectly pronouncing Hüsker Dü. Steven Rainey


Brian Eno Small Craft On A Milk Sea WARP

For his first solo outing in five years, Eno opted to work with Warp, whose catalogue of artists owe a huge debt to him. Also featuring Jon Hopkins on keyboards/synths and Leo Abrahams on guitars/ electronics, the album is broken into three sections. The first boasts some beautiful pieces of Eno-brand ambient, with the album’s film soundtrack roots (some of the work here is from his sessions recording music for Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones) seeming blatant. The more abrasive second section – led by

the uneasy chug of ‘Flint March’ and the skittery nervousness of ‘Horse’ – elicits the same dread as Aphex Twin’s scariest offerings. The simplistic style of ‘Bone Jump’ is out of place in the hostile middle section and as the final more cinematic third comes in with ‘Slow Ice, Old Moon’, the idea of experiencing a loose narrative takes place. That said, the ‘narrative’ could easily just be a hectic skunk-smoking session, but there’s no doubt this is engrossing stuff from the master. Adam Lacey



Various Artists Bugged Out! Presents Suck My Deck: Friendly Fires !K7

Indie darlings Friendly Fires seem an unusual choice to curate the latest Suck My Deck release. But despite their tender years, McFarlane, Gibson and Savidge’s track selection is, like all first-rate mixes, stylistically wide-ranging and often unexpected. It showcases a diverse palette, dropping plenty of surprising oddities and mixing disco party bangers with more reflective moments. It kicks off with an unconventional one-two, moving from classic Eighties cheese-synth into driving guitars; The Egyptian Lover's ‘Freak-AHolic’ setting the tone before a neat segue into Bot'Ox’s ‘Bearded Lady Motorcycle Show’.

Simian Mobile Disco Delicacies WICHITA

We all know how the saying 'Jack of all trades' ends, but Simian Mobile Disco look hell-bent on rejecting this received wisdom by confidently mutating at arbitrary points in a career that began with them as an interesting (if overlooked) indie band. Delicacies, their fine but slightly disjointed new long-player brings another shape-change. The blog-house producers who created Attack Decay Sustain Release now sound closer to DJ Koze and his Berlin kin, serving a set of relentless, tunnelling and often fidgety, straight techno tracks – all bizarrely named after rare foodstuffs from around the world. Delicacies aims squarely at the dancefloor, and that is undoubtedly where it will prove its mettle. Opening track ‘Aspic’ hits the floor from the start, urgent and uncompromising, but also borderline

annoying and just about saved by some fascinating details at the glitchy end of the mix. While its pace is typical of the album, other productions reward headphone-listening more readily. ‘Nerve Salad’ and ‘Casa Marzu’ in particular are excellent, dissonant riots of metallic microhouse detail that doff their caps to Villalobos and Hawtin. To criticise this album as disjointed is perhaps a little unfair, seeing as it is a compilation of individual singles released for the duo’s new club night, Delicatessen. Moreover, a second disc comprising a live studio mix of the album is a welcome addition that adds some form to proceedings. Like some of the dishes it references, Delicacies is raw, intense stuff and a step left by an inventive couple of electronic gourmands. Darragh McCausland


Chickenhawk Modern Bodies

Therapy? We’re Here To The End



Chickenhawk's second full-length is a prog-laden, thrash-punk tour de force. Containing tracks from their self-titled debut album, the A. Or Not? EP and the separately-released 'Scorpieau', it's more than a little surprising how fluidly it all goes together; with each and every track as ridiculously frenzied and pronounced as the next. 'Kerosene' is as brutal as Big Black's monster of the same name, the startling unpredictability of 'Gravitronic Life-Ray Table' recalls Ire Works-era Dillinger Escape Plan and 'Son of CERN' draws on the acerbic ferocity of Daughters and SikTh – thanks in no small part to Matt Reid's exceptional drumming. With no hint of exaggeration, Modern Bodies could very well end up as 2010's best heavy release. Brian Coney

Taped over a three night stint at a suitably sleazy London watering hole, We’re Here To The End sees Therapy? tread new ground as this is (quite surprisingly) the first ever live record in their much-storied career. Featuring a monstrous 36 tracks spread over two discs, it’s a loveably lairy release that does an admirable job of capturing the three-piece’s riotous gigs. Jam-packed with material from the band’s 20 year history, the opus serves as both an excellent introduction to their insanely inventive back catalogue (fluffed lines and all) and a great keepsake for their legion of loyal fans. In short, we reckon this album should be taught in schools ASAP as it’s an essential history lesson. Edwin McFee

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Far from the unrelenting barrage of house/techno often associated with such releases, Friendly Fires offer a little more in terms of variety, skilfully introducing slices of quality retro alongside more recent and expected cuts, such as Rebotini’s ‘777’. But purebred house devotees need not fear. Tensnake’s firm favourite ‘Coma Cat’ and Lindstrom & Christabelle's 'Baby Can't Stop' will keep you smiling, while Round Two’s emotive ‘New Day’ brings matters to a calming close. Hats off to Friendly Fires for reminding the DJ establishment of the importance of shaking things up. Eamonn Seoige


Terror Danjah Undeniable HYPERDUB

Watch out, there’s a gremlin in your stereo. No silly, not a cheeky psychopathic monster from Joe Dante’s ace Eighties movie... AU is talking about Terror Danjah’s gremlin cackle, the demented audio logo that pops up from time to time on Undeniable – his corking debut for the seminal dubstep label Hyperdub. Undeniable will be many people’s first exposure to ‘Danjah’s trippy hall-ofmirrors take on grime, but the producer has been knocking around for the best part of a decade, and it is a credit to Kode9’s sharp eye for bleeding-edge sounds that his label has got behind this release. There is more woozy, flashing madness going on in Undeniable than a dodgy fairground in Donegal, with near impossible rhythms (‘S.O.S’), star vocal turns from Danjah’s friends from the underground such as Mz Brattz and Griminal (‘This Year’), and a knowing hand on the tiller that, like Zomby, can slip between various eras in the evolution of British dance at the drop of a Teletubby’s big fluffy hat, and all the while sound more cutting edge than Richie Hawtin’s haircut. Darragh McCausland


Live Reviews

The FMC Tour / The Wedding Present / Klaxons

little attention he gets is well received, but it’s not an ideal platform for this young artist. And then David Gedge and his merry band take to the stage and rip the hearts out of a bunch of middle-aged men. There’s a brief jaunt through a few ‘Greatest Hits’ and then we’re into a full run-through of Bizarro, ‘Brassneck’ pummelling our emotions. It’s a testament to how heartbreak never ages, and as these songs celebrate their 21st anniversary, they sound as relevant now as they did back then. Gedge and band are proficient and kicking the life back into their material, and it feels like we’re celebrating something that we were all too scared to first time around. As Gedge artfully describes all our worst qualities, we love him even more, every arrow through our heart resembling a lover’s kiss. It’s painful, and it’s difficult, but it’s what we want to do. 21 years later, your heart is still broken, and David Gedge is the one doing the breaking. Steven Rainey


The FMC Tour Whelan’s, Dublin The story doing the rounds of the final FMC Tour in Dublin tonight – impending financial disaster aside – is how the Cork show suffered from the order the bands played in. Today, it seems, things have been sorted: while the relative status of bands on a triple-header tour is always going to be issue, increasing energy building to a rampant crescendo is the only way to go. Fionn Regan, then, lands the mellow ‘first on’ role. Performing alone with a small collection of electroacoustic guitars, Regan mixes hits from his debut such as the delicate ‘Be Good Or Be Gone’ and ‘Hey Rabbit’ with livelier newer efforts like the charactercommentary of ‘Violent Demeanor’. Even two albums in, Regan still comes across a touch awkward on stage, rarely saying more than ‘This is a song called…’, but his well-honed vocals fit nicely with an undeniably quirky character. He’s as much poet as musician, and sitting back and soaking up the lyrical gymnastics is an enchanting early-evening pastime. Jape displays no such tenderness, strutting on to stage as his usual bundle of bleary-eyed energy. With two new songs in his opening three, Richie Egan is using tonight’s half-hour set as a chance to display his prolific workmanship: the new efforts are top-notch, and written in amongst his new VisionAir material and that Redneck Manifesto album that appeared on the scene not too long ago. The man is a Dublin institution, but there are certain moments that just have to be part of his sets. They’re delivered tonight in the form of lively-asthe-day-they-were-written versions of the highly danceable ‘I Was A Man’ and offbeat ‘Floating’. Jape’s on-stage mannerisms include what comes across at times as a mere mime of his lyrics, yet the off-the-wall dynamism never fails to deliver. And So I Watch You From Afar, though, are not a band to be outdone. Littering a vicious set

with topical slagging of Brian Cowen and ‘D Is For Django The Bastard’ (rebranded for the night as ‘D Is For Dublin, You Bastards’). ASIWYFA are a band riding the crest of a wave that has grown to tsunami-like proportions. The display of headbanging in the front row seems to merge with the guitar-slinging energy that slams forth from ‘S Is For Salamander’, new single ‘Straight Through The Sun Without A Scratch’ and ‘Set Guitars To Kill’. This is a band that only ever looks a few chords short of whiplash, yet their impeccable timing and ability to make even the slow parts thud like the soundtrack to an Armageddon movie set them apart from your average heavy guitar band. And wow, what a live show. An odd triple-header? Absolutely, but as an eclectic glance at some of the classier corners of Ireland’s music scene reorganized into a stunning, slow-building beast of a night, well worth the ticket price. James Hendicott

The Wedding Present, Aaron Shanley Stiff Kitten, Belfast Like a first girlfriend that you never really got over, it’s always there, haunting you. All the things you might have done – but didn’t – and they’re right there in front of you, laughing at you and showing how sprightly they are compared to your current form. Seeing The Wedding Present isn’t for the faint hearted, but it's something that simply has to be done. But before the emotional turmoil, poor Aaron Shanley has the thankless task of getting this crowd of (mainly) men warmed up. Make no mistake: we want The Wedding Present, and we want them now. The acoustic troubadour’s material is swallowed up by the crowd, despite his best efforts. Shanley is a performer who needs 100% attention, and when he doesn’t get it, he pales into background music. What

Klaxons Tripod, Dublin Klaxons’ first gig in Dublin for some time gets off to a less than satisfactory start. Having arrived with no support band and opened the doors well before eight, stumbling on to stage – literally on the part of frontman Jamie, who’s on crutches following a sports injury – at approaching half past nine has large parts of tonight’s audience a touch antsy. Poor form, for sure, but it would take more than a bit of ill-planned tardiness to put off a fan base like tonight’s rock-ravers. Blending the abrupt guitar-dance fusion of their smash debut Myths Of The Near Future with the mellower developments of newer effort Surfing The Void, Klaxons manage – crutches and all – to display a level of pent-up energy that most bands couldn’t match at full fitness. The second album – while generally critiqued as being a more sedate and hence less accessible turn for the band – sits nicely amongst classics like ‘Golden Skans’ and the magnificently offbeat ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’, while the new material acts much like a bridge, helping the flow of a shortbut-tight set towards the older crescendos. Still, trading off the joys of moments past is far from disastrous when those moments are a mere three years ago. Superfluous covers might not be a thing of joy to us all, but ‘Not Over Yet’ morphs the Grace original into a thing of cyclic electro-pop beauty. It lifts the assembled into a dance-off encore that sees security running around Tripod in a frustrated blur as the front few rows utterly lose their minds. ‘Atlantis To Interzone’, meanwhile, is the shouty, clashing finale that finishes us off with a flourish. Klaxons might be a bit ‘2007’ for some, but their stage show still has the fist-pumping allure of a band playing their first large headline show. Fuse that with some tracks that still rank amongst the most essential of electro mainstays and you’ve got a vital live show. They don’t quite have the strength in depth to maintain their level for the entire set, but when they’re good, they’re utterly outstanding. James Hendicott —67 AU Magazine—

The Randals / Reviews

Unsigned Universe

Words by Chris Jones

The Randals Get A Real Job Omagh trio The Randals are a tad gauche, that is undeniably true. A bit naïve even, as ‘LRV’ is lyrically preoccupied with the cliché of slagging off indie wannabes. But they have something about them. That track absolutely explodes out of the speakers to the extent that their slightly misdirected rage is quite endearing. “I stopped believing when they changed the taste of Wagon Wheels” is another line, from ‘We Haven't Been Here Before’ – delivered with pure sincerity. More dodgy lyrics on ‘Where The Compass Lies’, but a lung-busting chorus too. The Randals are pretty far from the finished article but with energy and eccentricity like this, they’re worth keeping an eye on. WWW.MYSPACE.COM/THERANDALSNI

The Good Fight Let’s Start At Somewhere Else EP It’s hard not to damn The Good Fight with faint praise. They’re young, they can play and Ben Robinson can certainly sing, but does it have to be so utterly neutered? With plenty of hummable melodies and soaring choruses, the band’s teenage appeal is clear, and these four tracks will draw justified comparison to the likes of fellow countrymen General Fiasco, but it’s hard to recommend Let’s Start At Somewhere Else to anyone over the age of 18. In fact, it sounds like it was written and recorded with the help of a focus group. Next. WWW.MYSPACE.COM/THEGOODFIGHTNI

The Kybosh Ignorance EP Dublin quartet The Kybosh’s Eighties-indebted post-punk sound is a little dated. Double dated if you’ll forgive the term, since the 00s revival led by Interpol and chums is long gone too. Fortunately for them, however, this is a pretty strong release and fans of the aforementioned bands as well as progenitors like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure and (early) U2 will find something to admire. They’ve chosen poorly with lead track ‘Sunless’ – easily the weakest of the three – but ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Rise’ are bold and well-written, incorporating a hint of electronics along with the supple basslines, chiming guitar and strident vocals. Not bad at all. WWW.THEKYBOSH.COM —68 issue 70—



Somehow gigging regularly around Northern Ireland despite being split between Belfast, Derry and Enniskillen, Omagh natives The Randals are nothing if not committed to their craft. Their demo tracks landed in our inbox and made ears prick up immediately, with an entertainingly snotty attitude and indie rock chops. Corrie McCusker answers the questions. So, tell us a bit about the band. We formed in 2007 after realising that our unhealthy interest in music should go beyond the boundaries of communication, and we have been a three-piece since September 2010. The name ‘The Randals’ is derived from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, in which Jack Nicholson plays the character Randal P. McMurphy. We play with old-fashioned power and aggression and deliver our set quick and fast, just like a punch to the face. What was your best gig so far? It was when we played Queen’s Students’ Union

for the first time. We were nervous at first as the venue seemed to be getting more crowded minutes before we took to the stage. When we got on stage and tuned up, we were ready to go. I announced who we were and got a large cheer from the crowd, which seemed to settle us. In our opinion it was the best we have ever performed. Large venue, large crowd, played well, can’t be beat. Who or what are your biggest influences? When we write our music we mostly use our life experiences for the lyrical end of things, sometimes using lyrics that we have just made up randomly. We write our music with passion and in some cases it can help the listener relate to our songs. One of us may come up with a nice riff or a hard hitting drum beat and we work around it, throwing ideas at it, seeing what works and using what does. The bands we listen to also have an influence on the style of music we play, we take a lot from the likes of the Pixies, Manchester Orchestra, Eels, The Music and Kings of Leon, and a lot more as we all listen to different genres. What is your biggest ambition for the band? Like all bands we aim to one day be signed to a major label, but our more short-term ambitions are to produce our album in Jan/Feb time and promote it as much as we can throughout the UK with the help of promoters, gigs, magazines and radio time. As far as we know, we will be making music until we ourselves decide its time to call it quits.


The big talking points of 2010: “From its flashback sequences to the finale pilfered from Vanilla Sky, Shutter Island is a movie in which everything is exactly as it seems. But that’s not the point.”

P. 72 Games

The best of the last few months: “Say hello to your sofa and wave goodbye to your free time as Fallout: New Vegas slurps up hour upon hour that would normally be spent on trivial pursuits such as eating, sleeping and taking comfort breaks.”

P.74 Arts

On the importance of protecting the arts from the impending cuts: “Perhaps it is the fact that the arts by their very nature are difficult to quantify that makes them a sitting duck for politicians and civil servants who are disengaged from the artistic process.”

P.76 Keep ‘Er Lit

NI punk godfather Terri Hooley’s book dissected: “He is a DJ, a promoter, a record exec, and a general mogul, recognisable by his glass eye, brass neck, and silver tongue, as if he was pieced together over a lifetime of wedding anniversaries.”

P.78 Web

News studio disasters: “Suffice to say, we think they’ve got the wrong guy. Either that or the criminal capabilities of small household rodents have been sorely underestimated.”

—69 AU Magazine—




Ross Thompson looks back on the last year of big screen treats


After another tremendous year for cinema, we pick out the movies which may not have been either the best or the worst but certainly were the most interesting…

The Social Network

Infinitely more enjoyable than a doodle about selfish computer nerds has any right to be, the year’s most surprising movie charts the origins of the Facebook empire and the people it gobbled up along the way. Going through a purple patch with Zodiac and Benjamin Button, David Fincher directs with his usual brio, complementing Aaron Sorkin’s rata-tat script with visuals which deftly capture the competitive coldness of Ivy League life. Rising star Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg with blankeyed detachment and nobody skimps on the details of how self-serving and self-indulged the reluctant billionaire became when he grew too used to living off other people’s money. Apocryphal it might be, but it’s no less compelling for it. The nape hairs are already beginning to prickle for Fincher’s forthcoming remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Shutter Island


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Why, you might ask, is the grandmaster Martin Scorsese wasting himself on pulpy hokum like this? Twitchy gumshoe Leonardo DiCaprio and his partner (the always-value-for-money Mark Ruffalo) visit a gothic sanatorium to hunt down an escaped patient. If you can’t guess the supposed big twist from that blurb then clearly you have either never watched any movies or you have a brain made from Angel Delight.

From its flashback sequences to the finale pilfered from Vanilla Sky, this is a movie in which everything is exactly as it seems. But that’s not the point: from its Hell’s bells clanging soundtrack to its stock characters of rabbiting inmates and sinister psychiatrists with suspiciously German accents, this is a film which refuses to take either itself or the audience too seriously. Exchange your brain, whether it’s strawberry or toffee flavour, for a trough of popcorn and let yourself go.

The Road

Few films come more haunting than John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel. Essentially playing out the death rattle of a razed, pillaged and bleached earth, it is saved from unremitting bleakness from Viggo Mortensen’s sterling performance as the unnamed father trying to protect his son from cannibals, starvation and the onset of pneumonia. His desperation is etched into his gaunt face, written across his emaciated body, snared in the rough burr of his voice. Further, the film looks stunning, if not exactly beautiful. Real locations were chosen over computer generated ones, the beaches, coalfields, and turnpikes of Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Overall, The Road is a sad, sad film which is all the more remarkable for its refusal to offer easy answers or shoehorn a contrived deus ex machina plot device to wipe the slate clean.


The Crazies

This much underrated action horror may have been overshadowed by noisier, starrier movies, but it remains one of the most exciting of the year thanks largely to another brilliant turn by Timothy Olyphant as the tough but sensitive sheriff-o-type protecting a backwoods town from the same kind of virus which made Londoners spew blood and growl a lot in 28 Days Later. There is nothing new about The Crazies, most notably as it is based on a George Romero film, but at least it doesn’t tub-thump a half-baked eco-friendly message. Admirably, this small yet efficient picture has one purpose in mind: to give the audience a great time, which it does with aplomb.


Upon its release many griped that Christopher Nolan’s exploration of the complex yet fractured workings of the human mind was too brainy for your average cinemagoer, and too frenetic for the po-faced, highbrowed set. In truth, Inception was neither of these things, but it did make for terrific entertainment. Feeding off his experience on The Dark Knight, not to mention the budget that a studio grants after such a barnstorming success, Nolan crafted the rarest of things: a blockbuster which managed to have a brain, a soul and a big set of cojones. Inception thrums with good ideas and moments of visual wow, famously an anti-gravity bout of fisticuffs in a hotel room. It’s not the world’s first psychic detective film but it’s arguably the best, promoted from what could have been directto-video fodder by yet another top-of-his-game performance from DiCaprio.

The First Movie

In this documentary of sorts, film critic Mark Cousins swapped his laptop for a video camera – or rather, a whole bunch of them, which he handed out to children on the bombed-out streets of Iraq and asked them to go and shoot whatever they wanted. The results are startling. Far removed from Hollywood’s glossed and filtered version of war, theirs is a world of real explosions and real carnage. The heartbreak of seeing toddlers inhabit bullet-ridden, gas-burnt homes is entirely genuine, not triggered by the syrupy strains of middling soft rock. This is given extra gravitas by Cousins’ recollections of growing up in Northern Ireland – a pretty fair comparison, as it turns out. It’s not all despair though: The First Movie, a neat play on the late Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie, trumpets the FARGO spirit. The children, often living without human luxuries such as shoes, limbs, food or parents, never complain about their lot. A sobering thought for the taxi ride home.


covering The Banana Splits. Unfairly maligned as mindless, heartless nasty trash, it’s actually a silly but smart riposte to the more mardy superhero pictures of recent years, and has a heart where other films have a big bag of cash. Plus Nicolas Cage is back to his demented, Cheshire Cat grinning best.

Toy Story 3

It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have entirely computer-generated movies, yet while digitally animated dinosaurs and cowboys may have lost their lustre, Toy Story 3 remains a hugely affecting watch. This is due not only to the enduring and subtle brilliance of the characters but also to a script which poses thorny questions about human mortality in the guise of what happens to childish things when it’s time to set them to one side. Equal parts bitter and sweet, it’s the perfect swansong to the series.

Let Me In

One question hangs over this remake of Let The Right One In like Dracula swooping over the bed of some buxom, flouncy maiden: is it really necessary? The answer, of course, is a resounding ‘no’. The Swedish original remains a quietly stirring elegy to teenage angst which pushes all the scary buttons without ever being exploitative or graphic, so the prospect of a rush job refit seems as worthwhile as repainting The Sistine Chapel ceiling or refilming Psycho. D’oh! The problem is that Matt Reeves directs with at times startling panache,

not only drawing sensitive, mature performances out of his young actors Chloë Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also displaying considerable action chops in a car crash viewed entirely from the back seat. Several subplots have been excised but the odd frisson between the teenage leads remains - the fact that their relationship is largely dialogue-free adds to the futility of this alternate version. Overall, Let Me In makes for by turns enthralling viewing but it is no better or worse than its predecessor – it’s as if two Michelin-starred chefs entered a cook-off and both made the exact same sandwich.

Scott Pilgrim Versus The World

With its gawky protagonist and biff bang pow fight scenes, Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the beloved comic series was in many ways a cuddlier version of Kick-Ass. The fact that the latter soared at the box office while Scott Pilgrim bob-bombed is arguably due to the deluge of videogame in-jokes, movie references and chiptune soundtrack which characterised the movie. Admittedly, not everyone is going to appreciate the fact that some incidental music is lifted from the Fairy Fountain in Nintendo classic The Ocarina Of Time, and most viewers over the edge of 25 will find it difficult to watch this (final) fantasy without their eyeballs vibrating. Wright throws everything – wire fu, punk rock, dance central arcade machines, Liu Kang dragons et al – and most of it sticks.


This ultraviolent, potty-mouthed comic adventure courted controversy before filming had completed, but really put the Catwoman among the pigeons when the red band trailer launched online. Most adults, as it turns out, are not comfortable with a young girl swearing like a Mexican sailor but have no real problem with her dismembering drug pushers with a samurai sword to the strains of The Dickies


—71 AU Magazine—




Console Yourself!

After a lacklustre summer for gaming, the shelves are groaning beneath a slew of top quality releases. The following titles are likely to bulge many a stocking this Christmas...

Words by Ross Thompson

Goldeneye 007 (Activision, Wii) Widely regarded as one of the finest first-person shooters of all time, the N64 smash still brings misty geek tears to the eyes of nostalgic gamers. A remake in name only, this is exactly the shot of adrenaline the Wii sorely needs. Building on their work on the excellent yet poorly performing Dead Space: Extraction, developers Eurocom have done a tremendous job in making you feel like a genuine superspy. From the sexy ladies title sequence to the shootouts, gadgets and vehicular carnage, it’s presented just like a Bond film. Inventive level design, most memorably a nightclub firefight, and polished presentation complete a well-rounded package. Top notch entertainment.

Halo: Reach (Bungie, Xbox 360) Bungie’s epic series signs off with a bang – or a lot of bangs – in this explosive shooter. From the thrilling campaign to the wealth of multiplayer modes, this is about as slick and accomplished


—72 issue 70—

as gaming gets. Every detail, no matter how throwaway, is rendered with spit, polish and real love for the medium. It’s a fitting swansong to a yarn which has always been adventurous on a scale which videogames rarely ever touch. Reach is aptly named: it grasps the trophy and holds it proudly above its head.  

Metroid: Other M (Nintendo, Wii) No game evokes the loneliness and isolation of outer space more effectively than the Metroid series. The latest instalment tries to recall the franchise’s finest hour on the SNES but ultimately fails through some baffling design choices, as every neat idea implemented by Ninja Theory is offset by a perplexing one – please note, baddies who zap half your health right before a boss fight is a dirty trick. Fans will either love or loathe the way the writing team has played with the mythology, while others will lap up the balance between item scouring and gun-and-running. The Nintendo magic still shines through, thanks largely to the crossover appeal of female protagonist Samus, but ultimately this feels like a step backwards.


being played out by Desmond Miles in the present, currently on the lam from a shady Illuminati type organisation. This Chinese boxes narrative is by turns unsettling, absorbing and downright weird. Proof, if any were needed, that the lowly videogame is just as valuable art form as any other.

Vanquish (Sega, PS3 / Xbox 360) CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS

Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock (Activision, PS3 / Wii / Xbox 360) Six releases in and the fret-tickling, noodle-fingered brand is beginning to show its stretch marks and laughter lines. It’s not that the central concept is tired; it’s more that we’ve seen it before. Neversoft have added levity by dressing the avatars in metal hair, spandex leggings and multiple piercings, and filling backgrounds with more brimstone pyrotechnics than you would find in Gene Simmons’ living room. Rockers may find it a midge too cartoonish but again will be indulged with a typically eclectic songlist: the disc is bulging with brilliant tracks from the Buzzcocks, Rammstein, Muse, ZZ Top, Bad Brains, Megadeth and, umm, Jethro Tull.

Medal Of Honor (EA, PC / PS3 / Xbox 360) This update of the war-themed series has bravely gone toecap to muzzle with other big name gunners like Black Ops and the upcoming Bad Company 2: Vietnam. However, it has held its own by already shifting millions of copies. Sadly, the set-up is the same as with its fellows: uninspired, uninspiring single player missions are bolstered by the frenzied multiplayer. Confined maps and quicker kills make for shorter, more intense rounds, and proceedings are leant an eerie realism by maps set in a smoking, crumbling Afghanistan. The setting and story content have understandably earned the game considerable infamy, but many will relish playing shadowy Tier 1 elites.

Sonic Colours (Sega, DS / Wii) While a sniff short of the magnificent form hedgehog fans have been hoping for, this is still head and tails (wakka wakka!) above the flood of embarrassing releases of recent years. The Sonic formula is at its best when kept simple and

straightforward, where the only real goal is to make it from one checkpoint to another by barrelling and bounding through multicolour environments at high speed. In that respect it seems that Team Sonic have rediscovered their mojo. By limiting themselves to these parameters they’ve created a kinetic and addictive platformer with ingenious stages which offer an impressive amount of replay value. Old school gaming at its finest.

Fallout: New Vegas

(Bethesda Softworks, PC / PS3 / Xbox 360) Say hello to your sofa and wave goodbye to your free time as this sequel slurps up hour upon hour that would normally be spent on trivial pursuits such as eating, sleeping and taking comfort breaks. Like its predecessor, New Vegas presents a postapocalyptic world where literally anything and everything is possible. Whether it’s investigating a secret society of criminals, wiping out giant scorpions, rewiring a sexbot or playing blackjack at an irradiated casino, there are literally dozens of quests up for grabs. Completing the main story, a noir-influenced tale of dead couriers and an elusive poker chip, accounts for only a fraction of the adventure. The latest Fallout iteration is huge with the emphasis on HUGE, and packed to the mutated gills with things to do and ghouls, mercenaries and cowboys to talk to. Further, the oppressive atmosphere is nicely counterbalanced by a thick dollop of gallows humour – look out for the cult of Elvis impersonators. Disregard the stories of – soon to be patched – glitches, for this is a mammoth achievement. Get ready to (wait for it) fall out with your significant other when you lose yourself to its charms.

Hard as it is to believe, Platinum Games have produced a game which is even more crackerjack than last year’s Bayonetta. At heart a cover shooter, Vanquish is the game that Capcom’s disappointing Lost Planet 2 should have been. It mixes hulking Japanese robots, tongue-in-cheek dialogue and a head-bin plot about Russia and America competing to harness the power of the sun. With anime-influenced art direction and relentless action, it’s all deliberately hyperbolic. Quite literally lots of bang for your buck.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops (Activision, DS / PC / PS3 / Wii / Xbox 360) It’s easy to understand why the COD behemoth has to date made billions of dollars. Each chapter in the long-running series offers an exhilarating buzz ride through real-world battlefields, skirmishes and blitzkriegs. Every little boy wants to play guns and soldiers, and undoubtedly there’s something both empowering and unnerving about unloading a rail gun’s hot contents into the belly of a troop carrier. Black Ops courts controversy by referencing Cuba, Castro and the Cold War yet would benefit from a greater emphasis on stealth. Instead, each level is paced as an exhausting crescendo, rounded off with increasingly hyperviolent crescendos. The multiplayer, in contrast, is where the most man hours will evaporate, and has been beefed up with new kill streaks, weapons and challenges.

COMPETITION Win a Copy of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Ubisoft, PC / PS3 / Xbox 360) Those of the opinion that videogames are eye candy for the illiterate should spend some time in the company of Assassin’s Creed, which serves up one of the most intriguing, intricately structured plots in recent memory. Threading together elements of classic history, conspiracy theory, science fiction and religious symbolism, Brotherhood expands upon the already fascinating life of Ezio Auditore, a Renaissance-era hitman scouring Rome for the goons who murdered his family. But then Auditore’s life is a simulation

We have two copies of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood to give away, courtesy of the kind folks at Ubisoft. To be in with a chance of winning one, send your name, preferred format and answer to the following question to ross@iheartau.com. Which of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions plays a key role in Assassin’s Creed II?

—73 AU Magazine—


As we brace ourselves for the economic pain to come, AU argues the case for Northern Ireland’s beleaguered and besieged arts sector. Words by Jason Mills Illustration by Rebecca Hendin

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I’m sure that you are quite accustomed to hearing and seeing the word ‘cuts’ everywhere since George Osborne, Brian Lenihan and Northern Ireland’s own Finance Minister, Sammy ‘Warld’sWirm’* Wilson launched their blitz on the public sector. At least they could have flown a Chilean miner over to make the announcement and soften the blow, but maybe that would have only brought back bad memories of Thatcher’s War on Coal back in 1984. This all came about in a climate where David Cameron was trying to whip up a bit of wartime patriotism, resurrecting the old ‘Your country needs you’ slogan to try and cover up the fact that he’d shat the coalition bed. Meanwhile the media was repeating the phrase ‘austerity measures’ to get everyone accustomed to leading frugal existences in order to get the government out of debt. Not many people are particularly happy about any of this, as has been illustrated many times across these islands in recent weeks, and not least by the sea of faces and placards outside Belfast City Hall at the trade union-led protest on a wet Saturday in late October. At the tail-end of the procession of disaffected firefighters, health workers, teachers and other workers, were members of the city’s beleaguered arts community. This positioning within the greater public organism was probably accidental, but symbolic nonetheless of the perception of art by many as an added extra, a nonessential component of society. As one of the 4% of people in Northern Ireland who rely on the arts for my livelihood, I am used to seeing varying degrees of indifference at street level – in the half-empty rooms of the underground music scene; in the numerous establishments which refuse to stock The Vacuum (my employer) paper due to its unsanitised representation of Northern Irish life; in the working class areas beyond the vaguely cosmopolitan environs of South Belfast. It is often difficult to persuade people that taking time to wander outside Artsnarrow Shorts confines of mainstream culture can be the rewarding and enlightening.

arts SHORTS The life of one of snooker’s most colourful characters, Alex Higgins, comes to the Grand Opera House in Belfast in the form of Hurricane. This awardhoovering West End production sees Richard Dormer take centre stage as the flamboyant, dangerous, substance-abusing, sporting legend. Focusing on every aspect of Higgins’ life, from the personal darkness to the bright, burning light of his talent, Hurricane is not to be missed. Hurricane plays at the Grand Opera House,

Essentially the problem is bureaucratic in nature. The Arts Council, the body responsible for lobbying the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure for money, is fond of comparing Northern Ireland’s annual arts funding per head of population to other areas (latest figures; £7.58 in NI, £14.04 in Scotland, £10.10 in Wales, £8.47 in England, and €17.92 in the Republic of Ireland), thereby illustrating its inefficiency in securing parity for Northern Irish artists. You only need to read some of the minutes from ACNI meetings with government ministers (although I wouldn’t recommend it as leisure activity) to see that the discussion is framed entirely in commercial terms. Culture is something that has to be justified by demonstrating that it brings in tourists and thus creates economic ripples throughout the service industry. It doesn’t help that the Culture Minister is Nelson ‘Dunderheid’* McCausland, who recently complained on his blog about “a barrage of bad language” in an unnamed performance that it is fair to assume is Black Watch, a multi-award winning play in this year’s Belfast Festival about soldiers serving on the frontline in Iraq. Indeed, Nelson’s primary role in his ministerial position appears to be ‘plowtin aboot’* in his wee Ulster Scots paddling pool whilst totally missing the point of everything else he is supposed to be helping facilitate. Perhaps it is the fact that the arts by their very nature are difficult to quantify that makes them a sitting duck for politicians and civil servants who are disengaged from the artistic process. The effect is more subtle and cumulative than providing X number of jobs and generating X amount of money for the economy in X amount of time. Grown men and women in cold, dilapidated buildings, nourished only by discount biscuits and prepackaged sandwiches, are dismayed to see their vocation turned into a statistics game and boxticking exercise. Foremost, art is about having a critically engaged population which has the means to express itself. It can act as a social irritant in that it encourages people to challenge the norm and ask

difficult questions, as with the recent Blasphemous exhibition in Dublin which aimed to generate debate about the introduction of the new Irish blasphemy law. A gallery, a theatre or an arthouse cinema can provide its patrons with an oasis from the corporatisation of modern life, somewhere they can simply sit and consider, through a piece of art, how someone else views the world. In order to put the arts firmly within the bigger picture, I propose that the populace participate in a radical conceptual art protest in solidarity with public sector workers. Basically this would involve taking the ‘No Cuts’ slogan to illogical extremes, with everyone avoiding having anything to do with the word ‘cuts’ in their daily lives, a kind of linguistic veganism. Think of the consequences; restaurant kitchens would no longer be able to operate, clothes wouldn’t get made, wounds would go untreated with plasters or ointments, hairdressers would close, films would be virtually impossible to make due to the necessity of capturing the entire script in a single extended shot. This would culminate in a final human intervention on the day of the Stormont elections in May 2011 whereby tens of thousands of hairy, ragged, undernourished people with wildly overgrown toenails (note: those of us already operating within the arts community need only adhere to normal levels of grooming) would set up a protest camp at the parliament building. The fuel could be siphoned out of the chauffeur-driven ministerial fleet to help power generators and Nelson’s Ulster Scots kilt requisitioned to patch up leaking tents. Now that’s austerity.

*A HELPFUL GUIDE TO ULSTER-SCOTS warld’s-wirm: a miser dunderheid: an idiot, simpleton, one not possessed of all their mental faculties plowtin aboot: splashing around

Words by Adam Lacey

Belfast from January 25- 29 and tickets cost between £13.50 and £19.75 Starting to feel Christmassy at all? Well get it in gear and head along to an amazing production of Howard Blake’s incredible The Snowman Movie – Live Concert. There’s a full orchestra playing live, a boy soprano singing ‘Walking in the Air’, dancing and possibly a visit from Santa for the earlier performances (bring the kids/some kids/a kid/go alone). Get festive!

The Snowman Movie – Live Concert is in the National Concert Hall in Dublin between December 12 and 23. Check www.nch.ie for more details. Another Yuletide one for you: Christmas markets. Belfast’s City Hall has the fantastic Continental Christmas Market – with over 28 countries represented in the booze and food department – until December 19, while Dublin hosts the Docklands Christmas Market

until Christmas Eve and the 12 Days of Christmas at the Point Village, with carol singing and all that Christmassy cultural extravagance. You’ll be spoilt for choice, really. Bring cash and get drunk on mulled wine with rum in it. The Christmas markets run in Dublin, Belfast and nationwide. William McKeown is fascinated by nature and how it affects our daily lives as we bustle about, heading to work, meeting

deadlines and taking much of it for granted. A renowned sculptor, painter and creator of specialist installations, William’s exhibition at the Ormeau Baths Gallery is meant as a five-piece meditation on our existence with. William McKeown’s Five Working Days runs in the Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast until January 15 and is absolutely free to enter. Liam Campbell’s Allotments exhibition is a series of photographs from Dublin and

Belfast that document the way in which people with garden allotments use their space and how those spaces subsequently represent them. The spaces begin to reflect the personalities of those tending to them and Liam’s photographs capture this in the vibrant national gardening community. The Allotments photo exhibition runs in the Group Space Gallery in Ulster Hall, Belfast between January 3 and 29.

—75 AU Magazine—

SWEET AND TENDER HOOLEYGAN? Examining the life story of a self-styled Godfather of Punk Words by Reggie Chamberlain-King Illustration by Rebecca Hendin

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Keep 'Er Lit

As Belfast music biz veteran and serial mythmaker Terri Hooley releases his autobiography, AU considers the man, the myth and the book. I look on a book such as this with trepidation. Not, of course, because of the subject, who is worthy, but because of the timing: the moment of push and surge into the musical heritage industry. It is a relief to note that, at last, Northern Ireland is taking a certain pride in itself and the achievements of certain of its citizens (nations having no achievement of their own), but there is the risk of overselling ourselves for the tourists; it is on their money that such an industry would thrive, so we must convince them that the walking tour is worth it, that the memorabilia should be looked upon, and that talent is a national characteristic, otherwise how is our musical heritage any different to that peddled in Manchester or Sheffield or a dozen other homogenous postmodern cities? It is possible that one can too easily make heroes out of plasticine saints we’ve done it many times before on gable-end murals. It could as easily be D:REAM or Baltimora. The layout of this Hooley book does not help to dispel the thought: the photographs, of which there are many, are affixed to the pages at lively angles, marginalising the text, which, at cursory glance, could appear as mere footnotes to an extensive anthology of gig posters and 45 sleeves. Neither do the frequent contributions from professional friends (Glenn Patterson, David Holmes) manage to suppress the feeling that this is a group effort at mythmaking. Terri Hooley, as we are thankfully reminded, is ‘the Godfather of Punk,’ but only in Northern Ireland of course. The coarse design of the graphics focus on this, as if he weren’t also the father to some children and a whole bunch of

other things beside. It would be easy to mistake the book for nothing but a companion tie-in to the Mr. Hooley film that is now in post-production. The impresario is better than this, of course, as is known to anyone who has had the unique experience of his company. He is a DJ, a promoter, a record exec, and a general mogul (in this sense, a small mound of snow for skiing over), recognisable by his glass eye, brass neck, and silver tongue, as if he was pieced together over a life-time of wedding anniversaries. I would add a tin ear to that too, if I thought anyone shared my opinion on ‘Teenage Kicks’, but it seems they do not. Understandably, a lot of space is given over to the release and success of that first The Undertones epee; it changed Mr. Hooley’s life, along with many other people’s. It is also a proud moment from which to dangle the long strands of a life lived on either side of it. However, it is these dangling ends that are the more fascinating: the elements that existed long before punk and remained some time after. The accounts of 1960s Belfast, for example, are colourful, if vague: the Maritime Hotel, Vietnam protests, and Van Morrison pissing into a gutter. Pre-Troubles times are omitted or so poorly captured in other media that it is nice to see them mentioned at all; it is reassuring to think of Belfast as a vibrant town, catching some of the mirror ball scatter from Swinging London; the sort of town in which Bob Dylan might play and tell Terri Hooley to fuck off. Or, perhaps, a young Belfast man could slip into London counterculture with enough ease to punch John Lennon. This might explain why the contributions from friends and colleagues are necessary: every once and a while, one needs to be reminded that Terri Hooley is an unreliable narrator. He is

a mythmaker in his own right, but the maker of a different myth than a tourist board might want. He was of the music industry, but apart from it. And, so, he is of the music heritage industry, but apart from it. After all, his walking tours meander and digress and end with only a seventh of the walkers with which they begin. It is not the rock'n'roll autobiography that it could have been: Mr. Hooley proves himself too virtuous, giving toys to the children in Barnardo’s and organising festivals in Divis Towers. Nor does it do him complete justice: Terri Hooley is an anecdotalist, not a writer, and, as Stuart Bailie points out, he can be a bit of a bore with it sometimes too. Even with a co-writer to knock some structure into the story, it doesn’t feel ample enough. There is, I think, an objective book to be written about Terri Hooley, with a bit more insight, without the exuberant graphics, and without those close to the subject nudging it in any particular direction. For now, though, this book will suffice; if anything, reading it will probably be a lot quicker than having a conversation with the man himself. Hooleygan: Music, Mayhem, Good Vibrations by Terri Hooley and Richard Sullivan is published by Blackstaff Press


...with AU's very own super-scribe, Edwin McFee As we race towards the finish line of 2010 like Linford Christie speeding away from a horde of lunchbox-crazed zombies, it’s feels like the time is right to look back on the last 12 months in the four colour world of comics, reflect on what happened and hand out some metaphorical awards to boot. Anyway, here’s a SPOILER WARNING for the rest of the column and off we go. First up is Hero of the Year and 2010’s stand-out legend has to be author of The Walking Dead (among others) Robert Kirkman. As we go to press, the world is currently going barmy for the TV version of his zombie comic and with issue one of the book currently valued at $1,825 we think that the following 12 months are only going to get better for the Image writer.


Villain of the Year has to go to Twilight from Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. After leading us a merry dance for the past few years, Joss Whedon finally revealed that the masked menace is none other than Buff’s former squeeze Angel and mighty shocked we were too. It has to be said that 2010 was an unusual year for comics as neither of the so-called Big Two (Marvel and DC) launched a summer event book. So, without the likes of a Final Crisis or a Civil War to dominate the market, it was left to individual books to come up with the goods without relying on line-wide crossovers. While this writer was happy to take a break from the blockbusters, stories such as the return of Bruce Wayne in Batman and the “what happened to Peter Parker and Mary-Jane’s marriage” One Moment in Time tale that ran in SpiderMan’s book just didn’t have enough oomph. So, with that in mind Story of the Year has to go to JMS’ run on Thor. Yes, technically the writer began his truly visionary tale back in 2007, but as it wrapped up at the start of this year and the essential omnibus edition is due to hit shelves soon (which collects everything in one handy and hefty hardback), we thought it a fitting touch to tip our hat to his work that has redefined the character for the 21st century. Congratulations Mr Straczynski.

—77 AU Magazine—


Here's Looking At You(Tube) / Weird Wide Web

Here's Looking At You(Tube) Bad News

Everyone loves it when the news goes wrong on live TV. For one thing, these onair cock-ups provide the current affairs fan with a rare, if unexpected, moment of levity in what is normally an unremitting litany of war, terrorism, economic meltdown and horrible natural disasters. For another, a lot of newsreaders tend to be quite po-faced and, well, pompous and it’s kinda excellent to see them getting jerked around or otherwise making a mess of things. And finally, everyone loves to see other people fail miserably. Well, AU does anyway, being bitter, jaded, cynical and – let’s face it – downright nasty.


What A Guy To start us off, a blooper that has achieved legendary status. Unsuspecting Congolese IT professional Guy Goma turns up at the BBC for a job interview. Inexplicably, he’s mistaken for technology writer Guy Kewney, and is ushered into a studio for a live interview about downloading. Goma’s face when he realises he’s broadcasting to the nation is just awesome, but to his immense credit he gets through the interview pretty much intact. Hope he got the job after this. - tinyurl.com/yougoguy Wild Style

Words by Neill Dougan

WEIRD WIDE WEB Surf Far, So Good

Here’s a fluffy news feature from Dallas that goes drastically wrong. Our affable presenter is chatting to a Steve Irwin-type local wildlife expert. The anchorman seems happy enough handling the fivefoot-long Texas Rat Snake – no problems there.

Side On In an online world of bafflingly pointless websites, this is a top contender for most headmeltingly strange. It’s Google, right? Except it’s on its side. That is to say, your view of the Google homepage (and any pages you might subsequently navigate to) is tilted exactly 90 degrees anti-clockwise. And, er, that’s it. Admittedly it might come in handy if you are lying on your side looking at your computer, and are extremely lazy. - antimatter15.com/misc/rotatedgooglecss3.html Fight Test “Fight! Fight! Fight Fight!” went the traditional cry in the schoolyard any time two aggrieved pupils lost the run of themselves and took to battering each other. Ah... great days. And you can re-enact those days now with the help of howtofight.org, which fills in the reader on all sorts of fighting techniques, from Ju Jitsu and Kung Fu to, er Tomahawk Fighting. But just

—78 issue 70—

But when another of the beasties brought on to the show – some sort of small lizard, apparently – makes an unexpected leap towards his genitals, well that’s a different matter altogether. The entirely unsympathetic reaction of his guest rounds off the episode nicely. - tinyurl.com/lizardleaps The Hamster Did It Sometimes, of course, presenters are entirely blameless for the on-air errors that enliven our day. Here we see an American news report on the disappearance of a teenage lifeguard. Naturally, a serious and troubling matter. However the picture flashed up on screen of the local police’s prime suspect somewhat spoils the report’s sombre tone. Suffice to say, we think they’ve got the wrong guy. Either that the criminal capabilities of small household rodents have been sorely underestimated. - tinyurl.com/hamsterdidit

remember the site’s disclaimer: “We do not guarantee the results of any fight you get yourself into”. Indeed. - howtofight.org Pranks A Lot Yes, it’s juvenile, puerile and childish, but everyone loves a good prank. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that getting one over on your mate is one of life’s most satisfying feelings. See for yourself at the Prank Site, where all manner of practical jokes and cruel tricks are recorded on video for your viewing pleasure, including a series of the classic ‘scaring your girlfriend’ pranks – because, after all, what’s funnier than a freaked-out, angry woman? - pranksite.com

Words by Neill Dougan

Story Of The Video / Get Your Clicks

"aaagh! my eyes!"

The column that sometimes weeps softly to itself...

Story Of The Video El Guincho

Title: ‘Bombay’ Director: Nicolás Méndez

Barcelona’s Pablo Díaz-Reixa (aka El Guincho) makes music as vibrant and colourful as the city he lives in, and the video for his single ‘Bombay’ is the perfect visual representation of him as an artist. It’s a beautiful, funny and just a wee bit sexy. It’s also one of our favourite videos of 2010, so we got in touch with director Nicolás Méndez. How did you come to work on the video? Pablo always talked about how this record [Pop Negro] was all about the good old hi-fi times of

music recording. That concept took us right away to the image of a golden record, which is a perfect icon of hi-fi. That linked with Carl Sagan and the Golden Record he made for the Voyager probes the US launched in 1977. In those, he recorded an hour-and-a-half of music from the world, greetings in 55 languages, different sounds of the earth and 155 images that explain the earth. These were made to be found by alien civilisations [so they could] understand us. We thought that was lovely. So we imagined Pablo recording a golden cassette of images that explained the world and launching it to be found somewhere. What we see in the video is the content of that cassette. Can you explain the significance of the opening scene, where Pablo recites some words about the cosmos? Those lines are taken (and edited) directly from the actual Cosmos TV series hosted by Carl Sagan. He wrote those beautiful words. In the video, as in the TV series, these words just work as an introduction of what we are about to see.

Barry only went to the disco for the pussy. tinyurl.com/DiscoCats

Dave decided to up the ante after his neighbours the Moran family failed to return the lawnmower they’d borrowed from him. tinyurl.com/getabraindave

The video is full of short snippets of bizarre, surreal and striking imagery. Why did you take that approach? The world is bizarre, surreal and striking, among other things.   Why so many naked breasts? Every time I turned around the girls in front of the camera took their shirts off.  And sex is a very important issue here on earth. The video has been viewed over 1.5 million times on YouTube and Vimeo. Why do you think it has been so popular? El Guincho is known all around and the video is just fun to watch.

Words by: Chris Jones

Watch the video online at bit.ly/elguinchobombay www.elguincho.com

Jim was all for practical jokes, but his friends had gone too far this time. He didn’t mind the pain so much as the fact that he’d actually asked them to carve ‘Belle & Sebastian’. tinyurl.com/slayerback Words by Neill Dougan —79 AU Magazine—

Not Squares album launch @ Queens's University Bunatee Bar

In Pictures

Andrew, Rachel, Matt, Stu & Cazi

Aimee & Adlai

Bam, Josh & Skye

Paddy, Lindsay & Lyndsey

Stephen & Holly

Viv, Tom, Michelle & NJ

Lloyd, Tom & John



Ireana, Rachel & Raphaelle

Richard, Dean, Laura, Thomas & Sam

Not Squares album launch Queen's University Bunatee Bar The Bunatee Bar was host to a throng of excitable Not Squares fans last month as the band were joined by Dublin's Logikparty to celebrate the release of their debut album Yeah OK with an uproarious live set. In typical Not Squares fashion the band played an incredibly high energy set on the floor with the crowd practically dancing on their synths. Plenty of tipsy smiles all round.

Maeve, Dermot, Ciara & Michael

Photos by Ryan Hughes Words by Harriet Pittard

Alex, Lee, Dean, Ben & Steve 68— —80 issue 70—


Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project

Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project 14 Countries, Worldwide Six continents, 10 time zones, 14 countries, 18,000 people – that’s what the Smirnoff Nightlife Project spanned on one night in late November. The idea was to host a global nightlife swap, where partnering countries switched the experiences and elements that go into making their best nights out. Ireland swapped their nightlife with that of Argentina, Sydney swapped with Brazil, India swapped with Canada, and loads of other countries were involved in the swap too. AU was at the India/Canada event held in Bangalore, and if our experience there was anything to go by then good times were the order of the day. Here is a selection of images from events round the globe.


Great Britain





United States







Great Britain

—81 AU Magazine—

Subbacultcha The Last Word

The Ting Last Tings Word

The Last Word With Tigs of:

Chew Lips "I love Googling serial killers. Chances are, any venue in any city, in the endless hours waiting to sound check I’ll be there on Wikipedia, perusing.

The Last Word

When was the last time you offended someone? Not for a good long while, unless I’ve done it unknowingly. I’ve always been plain speaking but you learn how to be less of an idiot as you grow up.

When was the last time you doubted yourself? Interview by JohnNo Freeman memorable conscious moment of doubt, existence is more of a tightrope; you sort of wobble and lean towards these feelings from time to time, without acknowledging When was the last time you were scared? Katie: “Chicken and salad cream sandwich. You can them. I contain doubt self-belief simultaneously. Katie White: “On a flight to Toronto from LA. tell we’re on the roadand again.”

With: The Ting Tings

We flew through a terrible storm. I jumped out of my seat in a fit and Bette Midler’s interior designer, sitting next to me, reassured me and got me through it. I really thought it was curtains.” When was the last time you were embarrassed? Jules De Martino: “Shouting from the stage, “Madrid, we can’t hear you” in Spanish during a Barcelona show. If anyone knows the rivalry that goes on between the two regions, they will sympathise with my drunken stupidity.” When was the last time you time you had a fistfight? Jules: “Four years ago I stupidly agreed to play a five-a-side football match in North London. It was overly competitive and somehow I found myself surrounded by the opposition, fighting my way out of a scrum. I got my nose broke and ended up having an x-ray. Fighting sucks but I’m damned if I’m going Philip Larkin, to sit back andpoet take a beating for nothing. We drew (August 9, 1922 – December 2, 1985) 4-4.” “I am going to the inevitable.”

Famous Last Words

When was the last time Unnamed Medic in Call of you Dutythrew up? Katie: “We recently both many agreed a night in Berlin “I'm sorry! I'm sorry! It's just...so guystoare gettin' management. killed out there...it's just...oh, God, they'reare masters in with Our management shootin' too! Oh, God...” and absolutely smashed the artmedics of tequila drinking us. We had two toilets beside each other in our Berlin studio and there we were both on our knees projecting in synch.”

This Issue Was What was the last By... good record you bought? Powered Katie: “Tusk by Fleetwood Mac has blown us both Office moves, Jack Frost, Mini Eggs, new threads, away.”

multi-jobbing, passing driving tests (and failing them), charidee, mass recycling, cut and run. What was the last mealtheyou had?

Jules: “Cheese and Branston pickle sandwich with a mug of tea; the pleasures of being back in Blighty.” —82 issue 70—

When was the last tine you did something you regret?

When was the last time you offended someone? I don’t believe in regret. Jules: “We’d say never but maybe we’re blind to it. We value remember When wasrespect the lastand timecan’t you felt guilty? a time when someone felt offended by us. The stuff that’s blown Summer. Summer is for naughtiness. up online about Kanye West pissing in our dressing What has wasbeen the last piece of good advice you were given? room exaggerated.” “Have a word with yourself” – from James [Watkins, bandmate], regularly.

When was the last time you doubted yourself? Katie: “I don’t do time much doubting, When was the last you cried? I leave that to Jules. He’s super-fussy andnephew the combination of my Properly, solidly? When my and niece were born instinctive reaction and his obsessing is, in my last year. Justgut so overwhelmed. view, the magic we thrive on.” When was the last time you were embarrassed?

New Year’s it’s atime long story. When wasEve... the last you felt vulnerable? Katie: “Columbus, Ohio in December 2009. I was What was your last argument about? lying in hospital from the extreme Something stupid suffering and small about detailsexhaustion. of the single I wanted to beintricacies somewhere safe and endless. had no idea where cover. These are seemingly safe was anymore.” When was the last time you time you had a fistfight? It’s never happened. When was the last time you did something you regret? When was the last time you threw up? Jules: “I regret having a Blackberry. I spent hours My birthday in December. Sambucca. I was reading and sending what I on thought were serious ALLEGEDLY found sleeping the bathroom floor under emails. I have an iPhone - it encourages you to fur coats.Now Allegedly. be daft.” What was the last good record you bought? I’m not was muchthe of alast record buyer. When time youI know brokethat thesucks, law?but you just get“Officially, given so much... last record I acquired Jules: I gotAnyway, a speeding fine doing 36 was The Big Pink, and I like it a lot.

mph in a 30 mph zone about three years ago. I hate speeding cars. makes nervous but 6 mph is What wasinthe lastItthing youme downloaded? ridiculous.” Colin Farrell sex tape. No joke. It’s pukey. Katie: “Unofficially, I often break the law.” What was the last thing you Googled?

Serial love Googling Chancesyour are, If the killers. worldIwas about toserial end killers. what would any venue any city, in the endless hours waiting to sound last wordsinbe? check I’ll be there on Wikipedia, perusing. Katie: “Bye-bye.” Jules: “Let’s have sex.”

What was the last meal you had? Earlier this evening I had vegetable chilli and broccoli, followed by homemade flapjacks. What was the last good book you bought? Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, but it was a gift. What was the last good movie you watched? Pretty In Pink on a gals’ night. For fashion warm fuzzies. What does the last text you received say? “Just to check you remembered its Dad’s birthday today” (I hadn’t) “Does this make up for me missing yours?!” from my brother. We’re not so hot with birthdays in our family. What was the last bad job you had? I used to temp. Good money, extreme boredom, but it ain’t factory packing meat so I can’t complain. When was the last time you set something on fire? I accidentally set myself on fire when I was 18 or so. I had problems sleeping and one morning, just before dawn, was lying in bed trying to sleep, smoking a joint. I obviously fell asleep smoking it, as actor when I woke up the entire bed was on Edmund Gwenn, fire. It was a very call. I burnt the eyelashes off one (September 26,close 1877 – September eye. I’ve been pretty wary of fire – candles etc. – ever since. 6, 1959)

FAMOUS LAST WORDS When was the last time you were in hospital?

“ItI had is hard to die, but it islate harder do was an absolute riot. meningitis in my teens.toThat comedy.” When was the last time you broke the law?

I never, ever break themum) law. in Shaun Of Barbara (Shaun’s The Dead (2004)

When was the last time one of your heroes disappointed you?

“It’s been a funny sort of day, hasn’t it?” Just Have you seen the Iggy Pop commercial? He’s not selling before she dies he’s fromselling a zombie wound. Also Patrick car insurance, time,bite apparently. When she for reanimates, Swayze, dying. Shaun blasts her head apart with a Winchester rifle. When was the last time you bought a band shirt at a show? I haven’t. But I’ve been given a few, from doing gigs with other bands. The Veils one is particularly good.

This Issue Was Powered By...

If the world was about to end what would your last words be? “TIGGO!!!!!!!!!” In an Australian accent.

Cricket, snow,DEBUT even more officeUNICORN moves, IS OUT CHEW LIPS’ ALBUM NOW ON fucking off KITSUNÉ to India, the smell of burnt wheat, *that* piercing, mailouts, the WWW.CHEWLIPS.CO.UK dulcet tones of Huey, the amazingness of Kanye, the sadness of AU without Ciara.

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—83 AU Magazine—


reated c s a h t s a Belf t in music ic iPhone app. s r fi d l r o s aw ern elfast Mu B e h t , ut of North an o m g s i in r m u o to in ic c new mus itage, and n of l her usic h musica n explosio ic a r is ’s y e r it Belfast M e. e c h d e T a th lo n n o w to do nytim uilding e, the free Ireland, b ywhere, a il n b a o – m ll d a n ps a lore it age of ap ou to exp y s w o ll a p iPhone ap



—84 issue 70— This project has been part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and administered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

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AU Magazine Issue 70  

AU Magazine Issue 70 featuring Reasons To Be Cheerful: Showing two fingers to the recession with Two Door Cinema Club, Not Squares, Big Wave...

AU Magazine Issue 70  

AU Magazine Issue 70 featuring Reasons To Be Cheerful: Showing two fingers to the recession with Two Door Cinema Club, Not Squares, Big Wave...

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